A weekend in Pembrokeshire

With its sprawling sandy beaches, endless skies, atmospheric castles and churches, and a dramatic coastal line teeming with wildlife - Pembrokeshire is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Britain.

 

 

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For outdoor lovers Pembrokeshire is also the perfect location for a summer holiday – or for a couple like us, a long weekend break away to celebrate a birthday. From hiking the gorgeous Pembrokeshire Coast Path to sea kayaking or surfing or even coasteering, this wild and wonderful place is one of my favourite places in Wales to visit. Revisiting the Welsh coast always brings back fond memories of road-tripping around Wales during my student years at Aberystwyth University in a somewhat temperamental but much loved Nissan Sunny, and lots of evenings enjoying beach BBQs.

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After a long day in the office, we decided to break up the journey from Bristol with a night’s camping, staying in a deserted campsite in the Rhondda Valley. I wanted to test out a new backpacker tent, camping stove and sleeping mat for the magazine’s kit section before taking it out on the trails, and happily can report that the tent was up in five minutes and didn’t involve a single cross word. After a good night’s sleep we were woken by the sound of a sheep chomping grass with enthusiasm, having made a break from a nearby field in the night. Sadly, our new neighbour hadn’t put the coffee on the stove.

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For the rest of the weekend, we were staying near the pretty coastal village of Newport in a tiny converted barn, and enjoyed the drive along winding country lanes listening to the sound of birdsong while admiring hedgerows bursting with colourful wildflowers. Pembrokeshire in the sunshine really knows how to pull out all the stops. An unexpected highlight of the journey was encountering my first ever tractor procession. Pulling into a handy gateway, we sat and watched as each driver chugged past with a friendly nod and wave.

With the stunning Preseli Hills and Pembrokeshire Coastal Path on our doorstep we were spoilt for hiking routes, but decided to do a coastal walk on the first day, starting at the quaint village of Dinas Cross and heading up to Dinas Head, which is 465 feet above sea level and offers incredible panoramic views. An easy circular walk of five miles or so, the walk almost too conveniently ends at the Old Sailor’s pub, which serves seafood and real ale – winner!

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On the second day, we took a stroll along the lower Preseli Hills where, after getting ankle deep in a bog, found ourselves in a wildlife haven, which was a magical spot with birdsong filling the air – I was excited to spot a woodpecker, which I’d never seen up close before.

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After sparking the curiosity of some local horses, which came over to be patted, we unfortunately also interested a couple of young bullocks, so took that as our cue to wander back for a beer in the sunshine, and to enjoy a simple meal of delicious homemade bread and local farmhouse butter and strong Welsh cheese bought from the weekly Newport food market – worth a visit if you’re in the area.

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Unfortunately, this blissful Welsh adventure didn’t end quite as planned, as I was taken ill the following evening and we were forced to drive across the misty and atmospheric Preseli Hills at sunset to pay a visit to the local A&E. Thankfully, I’m on the mend now, but what’s a weekend away without a bit of drama? Pembrokeshire – we will be back.

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Read our Discover feature on Pembrokeshire in the August issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine – on sale 1 July