Broad Haven South
There are two Broad Haven beaches which form pearls in the necklace of Pembrokeshire’s seaside attractions.
Broad Haven in St Brides Bay to the north is one and Broad Haven South at Stackpole is the other.
Broad Haven South is the seaward extremity of a major landscaping project carried out in Georgian and Victorian times by the wealthy Cawdor family, to enhance the surroundings of their elegant baronial mansion at Cawdor Court, Stackpole.
The Cawdors, descendants of the Thane of Cawdor, celebrated in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, owned vast swathes of land not only in Scotland, but in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. One of their main country homes was at Gelli Aur or Golden Grove, near Llandeilo, and the other overlooked one of the man-made lakes the family had built in 1790 and 1860 by damming three limestone valleys leading down to the sea at Broad Haven South.
The beach is a popular spot for holiday makers and is accessible by car or by way of a pleasant walk from Stackpole Quay to the north-east or Bosherston to the north-west. The Bosherston route takes visitors past the beautiful lily ponds created by the Cawdor family, crossing two ornate bridges over the valley. The 4.6 square miles of the Stackpole Estate, including farmland, lakes, woodland, beaches and cliffs, is now in the control of the National Trust, which offers a wide range of activities in the old home farm buildings, the Victorian mansion having been demolished in 1967. The much older original stately home was besieged by Cromwell’s Parliamentarians during the Civil War when the Lort family took the side of the King and was forced to surrender. When Sir Gilbert Lort died in 1698, the estate passed to his sister Elizabeth, who in 1689 had married Sir Alexander Cawdor, Thane of Cawdor, and so the Cawdor dynasty began. At the beginning of World War Two, much of the Cawdor farmland was requisitioned by the army for the Castlemartin Tank Training Range, and the family abandoned the mansion and returned to their Nairnshire estate. Crippling taxes on the empty mansion led to its demolition, but the beautiful landscaped creation of the Cawdors remains as a gem of a National Trust property for the public to enjoy.
Broad Haven South is a lovely, sandy cove, and like nearby Barafundle beach, has attracted the film-makers as a picturesque, unspoiled location. In 1989 a television version of the C.S. Lewis story “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” was shot there, showing off its beautiful beach and cliff scenery to great effect.
Visitors may catch a glimpse of bottle-nosed dolphins or basking sharks offshore and the flora and fauna of the coast is breathtaking. Fulmars, shags, kittiwakes, house martins and razorbills all breed on the cliffs and the razorbill (known locally as the elligug) features on the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park logo, for the beach is in the Park and flanked by the 180-mile long coastal footpath. There is a charge for parking from Spring to October.