Sandy Pit Beach
Separated by Saddle Point headland from the popular South Pembrokeshire beach of Broad Haven South, Sandy Pit is a narrow beach named after the collapsed blowhole which occupies its north-eastern corner.
This geological feature is one of six blowholes along a one mile stretch of this coast, where the soft carboniferous limestone has succumbed to years of erosion by wind, wave and rain and subterranean streams. The dissolving of the soft stone by water action percolating through has first created a cave, then a blowhole which has eventually collapsed. Over time masses of clifftop earth and stone are washed in to fill up the cavern and form what geologists call ‘gash breccia’ which is often stained red by the presence of Old Red Sandstone which occurs around Stackpole Head.
These blowholes are in various stages of development, like a living textbook for geology students, and in stormy weather, air, water and stone debris is thrown up spectacularly, giving the blowholes every appearance of boiling cauldrons, hence the term ‘Witches’ Cauldron’ which has been applied to many of them.
It is wise not to venture too close to the rim of a blowhole for they are still in a relatively unstable condition.
The little cove which features Sandy Pit, is a pleasant south-east facing suntrap, ideal in calm weather for families who like picnicking, building sand castles, bathing, paddling and playing beach games. Just over the headland from Broad Haven South, it is a handy overspill location when the larger beach becomes overcrowded. It is also quite close to Barafundle Bay, a beach which recently one the title of “One of the Top 12 beaches in the World.”
This is Stackpole territory, and the nearest car park is at Broad Haven South, although the walk down to the coast via Bosherston Lily Ponds is well worth the effort. Stackpole, was once a country seat of the Cawdor family, who landscaped the Lily Ponds and the spectacular lake system leading down to the beach, with fine stone bridges across the water. The medieval priest and chronicler Gerald the Welshman (Giraldus Cambrensis) recorded that Stackpole in the 12th century was the seat of Sir Elidur de Stackpole, a Norman Knight who was granted the extensive lands around Castlemartin for service rendered to William the Conqueror. The Cawdors were there until the 1960s when they sold their estate to a large Pension Fund and demolished their magnificent home at Stackpole Court to lessen estate duties. They returned to their other family estates in Nairnshire in Scotland where successive Barons had held the title of Thane of Cawdor, who features in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Just before the Second World War much of the Stackpole farmland at Castlemartin had been requisitioned by the military authorities as a training area, particularly for tanks and, when the Cawdors left 30 years later, the Stackpole Court buildings, coast and lands were transferred to the ownership of the National Trust, whose Outdoor Learning Centre now flourishes there.