Pembrokeshire voted UK Holiday Destination of the Year 2018

By Paul Burton Barafundle

It’s official, Pembrokeshire - our little piece of Welsh paradise - has officially been named the UK holiday destination of the year. The illustrious annual award handed out by Countryfile magazine recognises just what a firm favourite Wales’ coastal playground is with families and children and couples looking for a retreat from the daily grind. At Bluestone we’re delighted Pembrokeshire - home to the only Coast National Park in the UK - has been recognised, though we’ve known for a long time what a holiday haven it is. We’ve been welcoming visitors to the county for ten years now and have become a bit of a dab hand at showing new folk around.

The magazine said: “With a wealth of natural attractions it’s no wonder that the wild coastline of Pembrokeshire has romped home with this year’s top spot. It’s a haven for marine life, with dolphins and porpoises often seen from Strumble Head, whale watching boat trips off the coast, and plentiful puffins and seals at Skomer.

St Davids
 

“Surrounded by the sea on three sides, no part of Pembrokeshire is more than 14 miles from the coast and locals claim to have salt water in their veins. Bask on the wide sandy beaches, trek the 186 mile-long Coast Path, and don’t forget to stop in at St David’s, the smallest city in Britain.” Judge Miranda Krestovnikoff says: “Pembrokeshire has a really special place in my heart as it’s where I had my first ever scuba dive. “Living in the South West, it’s a firm family favourite of ours, we love that the beaches are less crowded than Devon and Cornwall but the wildlife is no less spectacular with choughs, puffins and cetaceans to see offshore. The coastal path is a joy to walk and there are so many great places to eat local and seasonal produce. A worthy winner!”

We couldn’t agree more (sorry Devon and Cornwall), and have come up with some reasons of our own why we think there’s few places in the world can match Pembrokeshire’s very special combination of stunning features where the sea meets the rugged coast.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Freshwater West

Given that the coast wraps around Pembrokeshire on three sides, there’s a lot of coastal path to explore, often perched high on cliff tops with glorious views over the glistening seascape. It’s 186 miles are remarkably easy to access as well thanks to some well thought out planning. It starts way up in St Dogmaels and wends its way all the way to Amroth in the south, and there’s plenty of choice when it comes to short family-friendly walks or something a bit more of a challenge.

One to try...

Just 15 minutes down the road from Bluestone you’ll find scenic Lawrenny, upstream from busy Milford Haven. It’s a place of wooded valleys where the water drowns the trees and birds pecking on pretty marshes.Try the National Trust’s three-mile walk, which will take up to two hours and takes you through the oak woods and along the beautiful quayside.

The Beaches

Perhaps our biggest boast - in our opinion Pembrokeshire’s beaches are unrivalled in the UK and among the best in the world. From well known spots such as Whitesands Bay and Barafundle Bay to hidden spots like Nolton Haven, the county’s beaches are regularly recognised alongside famed spots around the globe.

Three beaches not to miss...

 

Barafundle Bay is a mixture of everything Pembrokeshire has to offer - the winding walk down through trees and greenery like the middle of a lost island, the crescent of deep golden sand with clear water lapping up at its edges and the rugged cliffs looming overhead. You’ll have to make your way through a forest and lake before you get there but it’s worth it. The long walk feels like a real adventure as you find your way to the bay through the trees, as if on a desert island. You can park up on the cliffs and walk down after a half hour drive from Bluestone.

Little Haven is another secluded cove with a plethora of rock pools to explore in front of a cluster of houses and shops. It’s not far from popular Broad Haven (North) and is only half an hour from Bluestone - there’s parking and toilets but beware, it can get busy.

Amroth beach is a beautiful long beach stretching the length of the village, about 20 minutes from Bluestone. It has an extremely low tide from which you can still see the Petrified Forest; destroyed when sea levels rose 7000 years ago. Fossilised antlers, nuts, animal bones and Neolithic flints have all been discovered here over the years. Ruins of Amroth Castle also remain and are great for photography fans. You can park easily and there are toilets.

The Castles

Dramatic castles pockmark the Pembrokeshire countryside, some in ruins, some still standing grandly as their heyday. There are mysterious prehistoric tombs, early motte castles, Bailey castles, medieval shrines and fortified palaces.

Carew 

Six miles down the round from Bluestone you’ll find Carew Castle - possibly the finest example in Pembrokeshire. Set over a mill pond, the huge stone building is ruined today but was once a stronghold to be feared and an Elizabethan mansion. It’s very much a working attraction as well - don’t miss the Twilight Tours (especially at Halloween - if you’re brave enough) where spooky tales and ghastly histories are recanted as the light dims. It includes the tale of resident ghost - unusually an ape. It concerns a pet ape which the 17th century castellan, Sir Roland Rhys, kept chained up in the north-western tower.

The legend goes that a Flemish tradesman called at the castle one night to complain that the Lord’s son had molested his daughter. In a drunken temper Lord Rhys let the ape loose and it mauled the Fleming almost to death. But he managed to survive and, after regaining consciousness saw that the castle was ablaze and Lord Rhys and the ape were locked in mortal combat, the Lord having dropped a lighted taper in the tower, which the ghost of the tormented ape is said to haunt. Explore after dark if you dare!

The Wildlife

With rambling wooded valleys, inland seas, vast stretches of coastline - the wildlife is a constant source of fascination of for visitors and locals alike. Out in the water, basking sharks and dolphins (and even the odd killer whale) roam the waters, on land you’ll spot foxes, deer and voles and in the skies guillemots and kittiwakes flock majestically.

Puffin 

Our favourite is the colourfully clown-faced puffin - the best-known and most popular of Pembrokeshire seabirds. It is one of the most photographed birds in the world and inhabits the Skomer Island nature reserve. It bears some resemblance to a penguin but is no relation and spends most of its life in the vastness of the wild North Atlantic, impervious to huge waves. The boat trip out to the island from Martin’s Haven gives visitors their first glimpse of puffins as they raft off the island with their auk cousins the guillemots and razorbills. The Puffin was considered as a possible emblem of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority when it was founded 50 years ago, but the committee plumped for the “Eligug,” the south Pembrokeshire name for the Razorbill.

Tenby

Of all the beautiful places to visit in Pembrokeshire, Tenby still takes our breath away when we stand atop its old walls and look out over the beautiful sandy vistas below. A mesh of cobbled streets leading down to some of the most picturesque beaches in the UK, Tenby is a busy little town that still feels like an undiscovered gem. Seen from the High Street above North Beach it is like a film set, backed by Castle Hill, with the remains of its Norman castle, now housing the resort’s fascinating private Museum.

 

A walk around the town gives the discerning observer glimpses of how it developed, how its fortunes waxed and waned and how the emphasis gradually changed from trade to tourism. While there is more to Tenby than golden sand and spectacular scenery, the two beaches, Tenby North Beach and Tenby South Beach, are both perfect for family days out sunbathing, swimming or playing beach games. It’s only a mere 12 miles from Bluestone and it’s easy to park and find your way around.

Bluestone is ideally located in the heart of Pembrokeshire, making exploring the beautiful county a piece of cake! Book your break today and see what you will discover...

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Categories:Beaches, Pembrokeshire, Summer, Environment

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