Aber-west Beach

Aber-west is a little known sandy cove tucked under the armpit of Dinas Fawr peninsula to the east of Solva on the northern side of St Bride’s Bay.

It is not easy to get to, accessible only from the National Park Coastal Footpath either from Solva to the west or from Penycwm or Newgale to the east.

For this reason it is little frequented, except by the locals who know it well.

There is a roough farm path down from the main road before east-west traffic descends into Solva, but possibly the best route is from Solva Harbour car park and thence via The Gribbin and the coastal footpath.

It lies in an area steeped in history. Near St Elvis Farm is an ancient burial chamber and the ruins of St Teilo’s church. St Elvis was Ailbe, the Bishop of Munster, who is said in the old Welsh chronicles to have foretold St David’s fame when the Welsh saint was given to him by David’s father to be reared for God. The parish was comparatively well populated in Victorian times, the census returns reveal, for in 1841 there were 34 people living in the vicinity. But this had dropped to 10 by 1921 and 3 by 1951. Out in the Bay to the south-west are the distinctive scar rocks - Scar or Sker is the Norse name for a rock - the largest named the Green Scar, the smallest the Black Scar and the even smaller islet called The Mare. On both sides of Aber-west the cliff ledges provide nesting sites for fulmars, which glide gracefully around the cliffs, using the thermal currents to good effect. Nearby Solva was a busy trading port in the 19th century, with some 30 trading ships of 20 - 250 tons in 1820 when the population was 1,252 compared with the population in the 1951 census of 836. There are ancient earth works in almost every direction from Aber-west, and numerous Mesolithic-Bronze flints have been found all round the nearby coast. These isolated coves were renowned for smuggling operations in the past, and the other side of Solva is a cave called Ogof Tobacco while at nearby Newgale Brandy Brook meanders down through the valley from Roch to the sea at Newgale beach.

The southern end of St Brides Bay is an anchorage area for supertankers waiting to occupy a vacant berth at one of the terminals in Milford Haven Waterway, and up to seven of these large vessels are a regular sight offshore. A short distance along the northern coast near Aber-west three Greek tugs, which were being towed from Milford Haven to the scrapyard broke free from their towline and ended up on the rocks just to the west of the beach.

Near St Elvis in January 1773 a sailing vessel called The Phoebe and Peggy struck a rock and was wrecked and sank when over 60 people, including women and children, were tragically drowned.

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