Skrinkle Haven Beach

The sandy, shingly beach of Skrinkle Haven, between Old Castle Head and Lydstep Point, lies south-east of Manorbier village.

It was off limits to the public for many years as it was situated beneath the firing arc of the Royal Artillery Range at Manorbier, and the Pembrokeshire National Park Coastal Footpath took an inland detour here to avoid the danger area. Anti-aircraft guns were fired from the range at drogue targets towed by Mosquito aircraft, and there were a few mishaps when inept gunners hit the ‘planes instead of the target. The army later fired ground-to-air missiles from here, with a wide sea area controlled by patrol boats while the firing was going on. Indeed, the military presence here goes back nearly a century, for airships operated from Manorbier Camp during World War One, carrying out photographic reconnaissance over the sea. Their operations were co-ordinated by the Hydrophone Station on Carn Llidi on St Davids Head. When the coastal path was established between the fifties and seventies, it had to leave the coast to head due north at Presipe Bay, going round to the east and rejoining the coast at Lydstep. But since the 1980s, when military activities at Manorbier wound down, it has been possible to walk the entire coast, and Skrinkle Haven has become a popular beach for all kinds of activities from family picnics, bathing, exploring rockpools and wildlife watching to more vigorous pursuits like surfing, coasteering and boating.

Skrinkle Haven is of geological interest as it is at the junction between the Carboniferous Limestone and the Old Red Sandstone which characterise these cliffs, with their flat topped, steep sided contours.

Access to the beach is rather tricky as it is necessary to negotiate a long flight of steps, but the beach is pleasant and welcoming and there is a car park and a picnic area on the clifftop. At the eastern end of Skrinkle Haven is attractive Church Doors beach, a little cove where two high-arched caves in the sandstone cliffs resemble the doors of a church. The beaches are separated by a thin headland or ridge of limestone, which gives every appearance of having been built by man as a high wall between the two. At low water it is possible to go round the seaward end from one beach to the other, and there is also a route through a narrow and very slippery cave which pierces the ridge and ends up in a rock pool.

There are many blowholes, caves and deep chasms to be avoided along this stretch of coast where the rock strata is vertical. A short distance along the coast from Skrinkle Haven, at Lydstep Point, is an interesting geological feature - a flat-based bay into the cliffs which is one of the raised beaches cut into the shore when sea-level was around 20-feet higher than it is today. The rich flora and fauna here are aso worth seeing.

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