The Dale Peninsular

From Westdale Bay right round to Dale Roads and the village of Dale itself, the Dale Peninsula represents the Northen gatepost at the entrance to Milford Haven Waterway.

Jutting to the south, halfway across the harbour entrance, it acts as a shielding arm against the worst of the Atlantic gales and swells that pound this coast, and, in such a strategic position, it is inevitable that it is steeped in history.

On its southern tip is St Annes Head with its lighthouse, or perhaps that should read lighthouses, for the older structure was sold a decade or two ago and turned by its imaginative new owner into a high class residence with unrivalled views of the Haven and the coast. When the lighthouse was built in 1800, Trinity House cut steps into the cliff to enable materials for the lighthouse to be landed there at Thorny Pit. Near the old lighthouse is a complex of Coastguard houses, now used for summer accommodation.

At nearby Mill Bay Henry Tudor came ashore in August 1485 on the first stage of his victorious march to Bosworth Field, and as he scaled the cliff on horseback, he commented that the climb was a “brunt” one (he meant rough) so naming the farm which is still known as Brunt today.

And just a couple of miles up the Haven, another Royal visitor, Prince Charles, picknicked and bathed at Lindsway Bay when the Royal family made their first ever visit to Pembrokeshire in 1955.

There are two Victorian forts on the peninsula: Dale Fort, built on Dale Point in 1856 and for the last 66 years used as a Field Studies Centre, and West Blockhouse Fort, built in 1857, and manned until 1950. Near Dale Fort is another rather earlier fortification - a relic of the Iron Age believed to date from 300BC. Dale Fort is paired with a similar structure across the harbour entrance at Thorne Island.

On high ground behind West Blockhouse are three transit marks to assist ships to keep in the deep water channel, and there is another at Watwick Point to the north.

On the western cliffs at Little Castle Point is land which was acquired by the National Trust in 1967 with enterprise Neptune funding.

During World War Two a large airfield was built at Dale and the road along the shore leading to the village shows evidence of the excavation of sand and gravel for the construction of the runways and perimeter tracks. The contractors left too narrow a baulk on the seaward side and the sea broke through and flooded the pits, causing the entire shoreline to move inland, two lagoons having been filled up with stones bulldozed in by the tide. This area, known as Pickleridge, is a popular spot for twitchers, for the shore and the lagoons attract many waders, seabirds and duck, some of them rare. Dale Village has a pleasant family beach, a church, a pub and a boat station and craft are served by a permanent pontoon.

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