Angle Bay Beach

Angle Bay gets its name from the Norsemen who found it a useful place to shelter in stormy weather, for the word means an angular corner or nook into a safe anchorage.

Many of the place names all around the Pembrokeshire coast came from the Vikings: the islands of Ramsey, Skomer, Skokholm, Caldey and the coastal villages of Hubberston, Herbrandston, Gellyswck, Goodwick, and Fishguard.

The Bay dries out at low water leaving a vast expanse of estuarial mud and sand where cockles flourish and waders have a field day. Its biodiversity is a source of great interest to the marine biologists at the nearby Field Studies Centre at Orielton, who for many years have monitored the impact on its ecology of the presence of a major oil port and the various mishaps by way of oil spills from terminals and tanker wrecks.

The ruined quay and harbour walls and the timbers of abandoned trading or fishing boats on the western side of the bay are relics of its past importance as a trading port, but now its maritime traffic is mainly leisure craft.

At Angle Point, the easternmost tip of the anvil-shaped North Hill headland, are the remains of the old lifeboat station, the new one sited half a mile west on the northern shore. So near the mouth of Milford Haven Waterway the Angle lifeboat, inaugurated in 1868, is one of the busiest along this coast with a brilliant record of service, generations of the same local families making up its Coxswains and crews. Among its most difficult and tragic rescue bids came in 1943 when two wartime landing craft packed with soldiers were lost off the south Pembrokeshire coast. A few months later the lifeboat joined St Davids lifeboat in the rescue of the crew of the tanker Athelduchess, stranded on rocks near The Smalls lighthouse. And again, four months afterwards, the Angle boat saved six of the 10-man crew of the Dutch coaster Thor, which had been overwhelmed by a following sea off St Anne’s Head. Coxswain James Watkins, who was 67 at the time, received the RNLI Silver medal for his gallantry, not the only medal he was awarded during his long and distinguished career. But perhaps the most famous rescue came in January 1894 when the full-rigged iron ship Loch Shiel was wrecked at Thorn Island two miles from the lifeboat station. The vessel was carrying whisky as well as gunpowder, and after all six passengers and 26 crew were rescued, cases of whisky galore were washed up - and snapped up by the locals before the Customs men arrived - in a parallel of Compton Mackenzie’s famous story. Whisky was drunk, buried, hidden in cupboards and roofspaces and in cliff crevices and caves and unearthed for special occasions for years afterwards.

The vicinity of Angle Bay is full of history, with Iron Age, post-Armada and Victorian forts, ancient chapels and churches and the remains of historic homes in all directions.

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