Nestled on the rugged west coast of Mid-Wales is St David’s Peninsula, taking its namesake from the near-by city of St David’s; frequently renowned as Wales Smallest City. Like other cities across the country said David’s gains its obscure status from the simple fact that it holds a cathedral at its heart.
In reality, the ‘city’ of St David’s appears little more a small town or village to eye, but turn the corner by the square and you will seize to miss the grand religious monument in all its glory. A magnificent feat of architecture, I found myself encapsulated. I’m not one to usually find pleasure in such monuments, but the detail in the construction and the setting in which it was placed, combined caused me to weep. I felt as if I’d been transported into the world of Harry Potter. The streets surrounding the cathedral grounds are equally as picturesque, the cobbled streets and stone-built cottages reeking of old world charm.
Top Tip: Keep an eye out for the bookshop, near the SeaSalt store…
The town is built-up around a square in the centre, offering a array of cafes and independent shops, but my real reason for visiting was for the recommended coastal walks. Due to time limitations, I couldn’t traverse them all, but I hand one particular path in mind, but it took a bit of a while to find!
Winding round the back streets out of the town, with some luck, will eventually lead you to the sheltered inlet of Porthclais Harbour. But don’t be confronted when you spot signage for The National Trust. Whilst they maintain the natural habitat, you only have to pay if you opt to park in their yard by the harbour. Whilst the Preservative Trust is a good cause, it is possible to avoid payment. You could park off-street on the outskirts of St David’s and enjoy the walk in, or potentially park on the bank (provided there is suitable space and you’re not blocking the only road in).
Built by the Romans in 12th century, the harbour was created to serve the St David’s and was foretold to be quite the bustling port. Timber and grain were transported, as well as limestone to the local kilns and coal to the nearby gasworks. Walking the harbour’s perimeter you can still see remnants of the old lime kilns. Today the harbour is used primarily for leisure, acting as an ideal spot for kayaking or canoeing. However, I wasn’t there for the water sports, for I had donned my boots for the dirt track
Leading up the cliffs, a circular route runs through the scrub along the harbour side and transports you out to the open plains above. There a two neighbouring paths along the cliff edge, one lower and slightly more precarious, the other raised. For the most part, I dared to scale the hazardous track, but when the wind picked up I changed tact.
Looking out to the horizon you get wonderful panoramic views of the Solva Coastline, with a direct outlook over Ramsey Island. Follow the muted earth tones beneath your feet, as you traverse the verdant scrub. Take the opportunity to gaze down at the crashing waves in rocky inlets, as the gulls cry out above. Gazing out at the blue lagoon before you, you’re sure to feel alive. The atmosphere is calming and the remote location places you into a timeless, tranquil scene.
Eventually the path leads on to Stumble Head, a large outcrop on the north western-tip of the Pembrokeshire. Here, a white lighthouse sits above a small island populated by a wealth of seabirds and they aren’t the only form of wildlife round these parts. During breeding season, dozens of seals congregate along the shores to moult off fur coats. Whilst porpoises are said to be sighted in the depths of Ramsey Sound.
Behind Strumble Head, the surrounding countryside, holding ancient hamlets and home farms. Looking at the ageless beauty of the area you can understand why the peninsula is also home to the last remaining producers of woollen textiles in Wales. Find yourself transported in time, as you view the weaving looms and watch the water wheels in action. For more info visit: solvawollenmill.com
With a mere afternoon with which to peruse my activity, I only got a pocket glimpse into the delight that St David’s holds. Rest assured if you’re after a rural escape then this distant realm of Mid-Wales might just be for you. For further information on what else you can do in the affluent county, check out: visitpembrokeshire.com