Day Out: St Bride’s Bay, Pembrokeshire

UFOs, falling moons and strange lights out at sea – we explore The Broad Haven Triangle, a four-decade-old mystery on the south-west coast of Wales

St Brides Bay, Pembrokeshire ©Alamy

St Bride’s Bay. Cormorants roost on Stack Rocks and large vessels wait for anchorage in Milford Haven.

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Behind the rugged red-and-grey cliffs, bent sometimes into extraordinary caves, broken sometimes by sandy bays, is a hinterland of undulating pasture and isolated farms. In 1977, this was the setting for an episode of modern folklore. 

Broad Haven Triangle UFO drawings
Among the witnesses were 14 children who all drew similar pictures of a craft said to have landed near their school ©Wales Online

Mysterious lights

It began on 4 February when a group of children saw what they believed to be a silver spaceship hovering above trees behind the school. The headmaster asked them to draw what they’d seen under exam conditions, and received consistent results. Hundreds of strange sightings were subsequently reported across St Bride’s Bay.

Sensible down-to-earth people were constantly seeing objects and mysterious lights in the sky
PC Ernest Jones told an interviewer

As the year progressed, the reports became stranger. Rosa Granville of Haven Fort Hotel reported an object “like the moon falling down” in a field behind her house, out of which came tall silver characters.

The Coombs at Ripperston Farm were so terrified by a shimmering figure outside their window they had to be evacuated. “And we’re not talking about a big softy man working nine-to-five in an office,” said PC Jones. 

In an unusual move, the MOD commissioned a discreet inquiry. They suspected pranksters may have been responsible for the silver aliens, noting “it is perhaps not irrelevant that a local factory manufactures clothing of this type for the oil   installation in Milford Haven”. Some of the pranksters confessed in later years; one recalled hiding in a rhododendron bush. But they didn’t confess to everything.

Broad Haven
Broad Haven ©Tony Atkin

Pembrokeshire has many military bases, but residents were used to the lights, craft and flares from RAF Brawdy. RAF engineer Gordon Bowden himself saw “strange lights out at sea that accelerated at such phenomenal speed” his military training couldn’t account for it. A particularly secretive American base turned out to have been merely monitoring Russian submarines. And whatever the schoolchildren saw, has yet to be explained. 

Stealth mission

From a six-mile stretch of coast path between St Bride’s and Broad Haven, you can see Stack Rocks, believed by some to be a UFO base. Ripperston Farm lies just a mile across the fields, and the former Haven Fort Hotel stands gaunt and gothic on the Little Haven headland. And on a stealth mission out in the bay, a gannet quarters the air  and spears the sea.  

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©Alamy