Musselwick Sands Beach

Musselwick Sands, not to be confused with the inaccessible rocky shore of the same name beneath beetling cliffs near Talbenny, is a sandy strip near the village of Marloes.

Facing north into St Bride’s Bay it is located midway between Wooltack Point and Nab Head, and is a place that is only really accessible at low tide as the beach is narrow and those who descend into it can very easily be cut off by the tide.

As its name suggests there are musselbeds along the rocky end of the beach and offshore, and in winter it is the haunt of rafts of scoter duck diving to feed on the shellfish beneath the surface.

There is no access by road, the nearest parking being in the village of Marloes half a mile to the south-west, but for the more active it is worth a visit for its solitary wildness, with good bathing in mild weather. If parking in Marloes, the best route down to the beach is via the Martins Haven road for a couple of hundred yards to just short of Marloes Beacon where a path turns off to the right, opposite the triangulation station on the other side of the road. It is worth taking the short, easy climb to the Beacon for panoramic views south over Milford Haven Waterway, north across St Bride’s Bay or west out to the bird sanctuary islands.

The farmer at nearby Musselwick Farm did a double take early one morning when herding the cows in for milking back in the sixties. At the bottom of the field overlooking the northern end of Musselwick Sands, where the cows had been grazing, the mast of a ship was showing above the clifftop. The farmer walked down to explore the strange sight, and there, tucked neatly under the ciff, its bow resting on the sands was a small coaster, which had ended up there during the night. The weather was calm and the sea flat as a millpond, but the ship’s master explained that it had been an error of navigation. A young seaman had been put in charge of the helm and, in darkness, had changed course a little early to the south-west heading for Milford Haven, misreading the positions of the lighthouses at South Bishop, St Davids, Skokholm and The Smalls. The stranding was so gentle that it was possible to tow the vessel off at high tide and, as it had only a slight hole in the bottom of the hull, it was towed round and beached at Broad Haven for minor patching before heading to the shipyard for repair.

It was one of the lesser strandings on this coast, for Jack Sound, between Skomer Island and the mainland, less than three miles west of Musselwick, has claimed dozens of victims down the centuries and, even in calm weather, with the fang-like submerged rocks of Tuskar, Crab Stones and the Cable, it is an extremely  treacherous place.

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