The Pembrokeshire Coast Path explores Britain’s most spectacular stretch of coastline.
Covering every type of coastal landscape the UK has to offer, the trail winds for 186 miles (300 kilometers) over wild cliff tops, red sandstone coves, along glorious golden beaches, past quaint harbor villages, flooded glacial valleys, and tidal estuaries.
Along the way you experience a landscape so beautiful and so rich with wildlife it is easy to see why Pembrokeshire is the only coastal national park in Britain.
With birds of prey soaring above, dolphins swimming in the glistening sea, seals resting in the coves below, and immense wildflower displays in summer, prepare to be amazed. The area also boasts geology that dates back 500 million years, as well as a historical sights from the Neolithic period to the Napoleonic invasions.
The trail is a challenging undertaking. Crossing a rugged and, at times, formidable landscape, there is a total of 35,000 feet (10,668 meters) of ascent and descent to contend with—said to be equivalent to climbing Everest.
In this Collection, we split the Pembrokeshire Coast Path into 11 stages, which makes for a challenging two-week hike with some rest days. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.
Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it is worth planning in advance and scheduling any rest days accordingly.
If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Haverfordwest railway station, which is served by direct trains from Swansea and has connecting services around the UK. You would then need to catch T5 TrawsCymru bus service from the station to Cardigan. When you reach Cardigan, you can either walk the one-and-a-half miles to St Dogmaels or catch the 408 bus service.
To get home, you would need to catch the 351 bus service from Amroth to Kilgetty, then catch a train from Kilgetty railway station, which runs direct trains to Swansea and has connecting services around the UK.
If you are planning to arrive by car, your best bet is to negotiate with a hotel or B&B a rate to stay for a night either side of your hike in St Dogmaels.
To get back, you would need to catch the 351 bus from Amroth to the arcade at Sandersfoot, then the 381 bus to Haverfordwest, then the T5 TrawsCymru bus service from the station to Cardigan, and finally you can either walk the one-and-a-half miles to St Dogmaels or catch the 408 bus service.
For more information about the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, visit: nationaltrail.co.uk/pembrokeshire-coast-path.
For train timetables and tickets, visit: thetrainline.com.
For the T5 TrawsCymru bus timetable, visit: trawscymru.info/t5.
For the 408 bus timetable, visit: bustimes.org/services/408-cardigan-poppet-sands-2.
For the 351 bus timetable, visit: bustimes.org/services/351-tenby-pendine-via-saundersfoot.
The first stage of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path makes for a challenging introduction to the trail.
With near-constant ascent and descent to contend with, as well as a tough terrain and sizeable distance, this stage explores a wild and remote landscape.
From St Dogmaels, you follow the estuary past Poppit Sands, continue climbing to Cemaes Head, and then follow the trail south.
After passing the cavernous green pool known as Witch’s Couldron, it is a steep climb along a sublime section of trail, before you gradually descend to Newport Sands, which is regarded by many as the finest beach in the area.
This stage finishes in the town of Newport, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
Please be aware, you do not pass anywhere to resupply between the start and end of this route, so make sure you have enough food and water.
With classic cliff hiking, Neolithic and Napoleonic history, and plenty of stunning scenery, this is a wonderful stage.
Before leaving Newport, it is worth taking a small detour to see Carreg Coetan, one of the best-preserved Neolithic burial chambers in the area.
From there, you rejoin the trail and follow it east over a gently undulating terrain.
The big climb on this stage is to Dinas Head, where you are afforded breathtaking views. If you are lucky, you might even spot dolphins from the headland.
You then hike southwest to Fishguard. Here, it is worth taking some time to explore the free-entry Fishguard Fort, which was completed in 1785.
This stage finishes in Harbour Village. This area has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
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Sheer coastal cliffs forged from ancient volcanic activity dominate this dramatic stage.
If you are hiking during spring and summer, the landscape transforms into a rich purple and yellow thanks to the heather and gorse blossom.
From Harbour Village, you descend gently past Carregwastad Point, the spot where the French landed in the last invasion of Britain in 1797.
Soon after, you get a delightful view over Strumble Head Lighthouse, which sits in a magnificent position on a tiny island just off the coast.
It is then a steep climb around Garn Fawr, past YHA Pwll Deri, and onto Abercastle. Once you reach this village, it is worth a short detour to see another highly impressive Neolithic burial chamber, Carreg Samson.
This stage finishes in the village of Trefin, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This thrilling stage takes you along rugged cliff-tops where the geology is spectacular and the wildlife is abundant.
From Trefin, you hike east past Porthgain and the ruins of the village’s old slate quarry, all the while gazing out across the enchanting Irish Sea.
When you reach St David’s Head, prepare to have your breath taken by the wild landscape and spellbinding views. The dramatic headland is dominated by the peak of Carn Llidi and boasts geology that dates back 500 million years.
As the trail winds around the peninsula, you will see some spectacular natural rock arches; all shaped by centuries of waves and weather erosion.
Any birdwatchers will find this stage particularly exciting. Keep a look-out for peregrine falcon, kestrel, gannet, raven, and chough.
This stage finishes close to the cathedral city of St David’s, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
Gorgeous coastal scenery and glorious nature make this a memorable stage.
If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming in the glittering ocean, seals nestling into the coves, and birds of prey swooping above you.
From St David’s, you rejoin the trail and head east along a relatively flat and low-level section.
Early in the hike, it is worth a short detour to see Chapel of St Non. Situated in a field above the path, St Non's is said to be the birthplace of St David.
The trail winds around numerous bays to the enchanting village of Solva. Packed with cafes, shops, galleries, and more, it makes a great spot to stop for a while.
You then follow the path south past Newgale Beach and Nolton Haven until you reach the seaside village Broad Haven, where this stage finishes.
Broad Haven has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
This stage affords leisurely hiking along red sandstone cliffs that are topped with stunning wildflowers during spring and summer.
There are some good opportunities to spot seals along this stage, as well as plenty of birdlife.
From Broad Haven, the trail winds past Little Haven, Musselwick Bay, Martin’s Haven, Wooltack Bay, and onto Marloes Sands.
Boasting interesting rock formations, and surrounded by cliffs, Marloes Sands is an atmospheric beach to explore and is a photographers’ paradise.
The trail continues south to Westdale Bay, a serene beach surrounded by red sandstone cliffs with views to Skokholm Island and Grassholm Island.
The village of Dale, close to Westdale Bay, has some accommodation options and places to eat and drink.
Level walking and an easy-going terrain afford for a leisurely hike—but be aware of the tidal crossings on this stage.
From Westdale Bay, you hike around St Ann’s Head; past the tranquil Watwick Bay and the 19th-century Dale Fort.
When you reach Dale, you have to make a crossing to Musslewick which can only be completed at low tide. To avoid a lengthy detour here, be sure to check the tide times via the link below.
The trail continues east past Watch House Bay and Wenall Bay and onto Sandy Haven, where there is another crossing that can only be completed at low tide. To avoid another lengthy detour, be sure to check the tide times.
You continue past the sheltered sand and shingle beach at Gelliswick Bay and onto the town of Milford Haven, where this stage finishes.
Milford Haven has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
To check tide times, visit bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/tide_tables.
This stage takes you outside of the national park and into a landscape that is alive with industry.
At 22 miles (35 kilometers) long, this is a tough distance and will be a real test of your fitness and endurance. Because this stage is not as memorable as others, it is a great opportunity to get your head down and smash in a challenge.
If you want to split the hike, though, your best bet is to finish this stage in Pembroke, which would be 11 miles (18 kilometers). From Pembroke to Angle is roughly the same distance and both places have accommodation options.
From Milford Haven, you continue east and pass St Tudwal's, a serene church that affords wonderful views over the waterway.
You continue through Neyland, cross the marina and then cross the Milford Haven Waterway to Pembroke Dock.
As you pass through Pembroke you can see the Grade I-listed medieval castle.
From there, you pass through an industrial landscape to Angle, where this stage finishes. Angle has a few options for accommodation and food and drink.
You step back into the national park with a bang on this wild and rugged stage.
Exploring a terrain that is intentionally managed to be remote and challenging, you will not see much civilization on this classic coastal hike.
From Angle, you walk along Chapel Bay, which has a military fort that tells the tale of weaponry through the ages.
A short time later, you get a lovely view over Thorne Island, a rocky little island that was fortified in the 1850s amid growing concerns about the strength of the French Navy.
The trail continues past West Angle Bay, Castles Bay, and Whitedole Bay, with views over Rat Island and Sheep Island.
You continue past Parsonsquarry Bay, West Pickard Bay, and East Pickard Bay, before skirting along the northern edge of the Castlemartin military firing range to finish in Castlemartin itself.
There are a few accommodation options in Castlemartin but the village does not have much.
You see some of the most iconic sights and best beaches on this stunning stage.
As the route crosses a military firing range, though, it is essential that you research firing times ahead of your hike as you do not want to miss these sights—or put yourself in any danger. Information on how to check is below.
From Catslemartin you are immediately into the military range and walk through farmland to the coast.
When you reach the shore, you can see two breathtaking natural sculptures within a stone’s-throw of each other.
Firstly, is the Green Bridge of Wales, a dramatic natural rock in a very atmospheric setting. A little further down the coast you see Elegug Stacks, two grand stones in the sea that would have also been a natural arch at one point.
You continue along the coastline and before you leave the firing range, you are afforded another iconic, if a little quirky, attraction, St Govan's Chapel.
Found at the bottom of a long and steep set of steps, St Govan's is a hermit cave that is nestled into the cliffs. The unusual building is shrouded in mystery and folklore.
The trail continues along the shoreline past some of the best beaches in Britain; affording flat, low-level walking for the remainder of the hike.
This stage finishes in the village Manorbier, which has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.
CHECK FIRING TIMES: to check if Castlemartin Military Firing Range is open to the public call Pembroke Visitor Centre on 01437 776499 or visit gov.uk/government/publications/castlemartin-firing-notice--2.
The final stage takes you past some beautiful beaches and affords dramatic views over Caldey Island, The Gower, and Exmoor.
Due to the spectacular beaches in the area, this is the busiest stage on the entire trail.
From Manorbier, you head east along the coast to Giltar Point, where you experience wonderful views out to sea, over Caldey Island and beyond.
You hike onto Tenby, a delightful harbor town. Steeped in ancient history and surrounded by an imposing medieval stone wall, Tenby makes for a good place to stop for a while.
The trail continues past Monkstone Point, around Saundersfoot Bay, and just beyond Amroth, where this stage and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path finishes.
Amroth and the surrounding area has a good range of accommodation, places to eat and drink, as well as shops and other attractions.