Freshwater West and Freshwater East
Freshwater West and East are two beaches only 10 miles apart on the south coast and as the name suggests, one on the west side and the other on the east. While they’re both spectacular, wide, sandy beaches they have their own unique charms and are well worth a visit.
The better known of the beaches, Freshwater West is a spectacular, wide sandy bay backed sand dunes and with rocky cliffs to the far north and south with rockpools and caves to explore. Toward the southern end of the beach, near the entrance way, is a pebbled stream that cuts the sand in half and leads out to a rocky reef.
One of the first things you’ll notice as you arrive at the breathtaking beach, is the surfers lining up in the waves. Freshwater West is one of the top surfing locations in Wales and regularly hosts tournaments that attracts competitors from all over the world. It’s unlikely there won’t be someone in the water hunting the perfect wave during your visit, though with the strong swell and currents it’s definitely not suitable for beginners or unexperienced swimmers.
The beach is backed by an extensive network of natural dunes – the Broomhill Burrows – which snake along the edge of the beach, separating it from the road. Though it’s tempting, the sands dunes are fragile and under protection, so no camping or barbecuing is allowed in this area.
A Hollywood Favourite
Freshwater West has become a mecca for Harry Potter fans, as the location of Shell Cottage in the Deathly Hallows movies – where Dobby the house elf died and was buried. You can visit his “grave” on the beach and leave your own tribute – a definite bucketlist activity for any potterheads who visit Bluestone.
It’s not Freshwater West’s only brush with Hollywood. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe was filmed there in 2010 and was used as the location for the Dunkirk scenes in the 2015 Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin film, Their Finest.
How To Get There
Freshwater West is on the south-west tip of the coast, close to the village of Castlemartin and, towards the north, Angle. If you drive, there are two, small carparks.
The first is towards the northern end of the beach, and once parked, you can access via a pathway through the sand dunes. Further down the beach at the southern end, there’s a second carpark with toilets and the Caffi Mor food truck. From here you can cross the road and access the beach via steps or a ramp.
It’s free to park, but don’t be surprised if it’s full of campers and vans when you get there, especially during the summer. There are a few spots along the road in between the carparks, next to the dunes and it can be tempting to squeeze in a spot.
However, if you decide to park here make sure you’re not blocking access for other cars and larger vehicles. Avoid this as much as possible in the summer when traffic is busy from both directions as it does end up causing problems, especially if essential and emergency vehicles can’t access the beach.
If you cannot find a space, it’s recommended to park further up the hill in a safe spot causing no obstruction. The beach is accessible along the coast path from both directions, Angle in the north and to the south, it swings inland to Castlemartin.
Distance from Bluestone
18.5 miles/ 29-minute drive
Two small carparks next to the beach (SA71 5AH) that are free to use.
The beach is on a relatively flat terrain. From the carpark at the southern end, the beach is a short walk across the road and then access is via a ramp or steps down. However, these come out onto a pebbled section and may be difficult for buggies or wheelchairs to navigate.
The northern carpark is a slightly longer walk through high sand dunes, and not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs. The dunes may also be a difficult terrain for those with limited mobility to navigate.
There are National Trust toilets in the southern carpark along with the Caffi Mor food truck, selling drinks and snacks, which operates from spring to autumn.
If you want to enjoy the beach without the crowds, visit out of the summer season when it’s just as spectacular or go very early. Before 9am the beach is relatively deserted aside from dog walkers and surfers even at the height of summer. Our favourite time to get down there is 7am.
A wide sandy bay, sheltered by the protruding headland, Trewent Point, and backed by sand dunes, Freshwater East is breathtaking, serene and, with stretches of golden sand, perfect for playing.
Thanks to its westerly facing position and the headland that juts out at the southern end of the beach, the bay is to an extent protected from the elements, making it a great place for a beach day especially with children.
The sandy beach is enclosed by cliffs made of distinct red sandstone and a at low tide, there are rock pools and caves to explore, with rocky areas sectioning off parts of the sand and providing some privacy.
How To Get There
On the south west coast close to the village of Lamphey, Freshwater East is easily accessible by car. There is a carpark adjacent to the beach, a short five-minute walk away and the terrain is relatively flat, making it easy to bring buggies and wheelchairs onto the sand. Or, if you are coming via the coast path, you can reach the beach from the direction of Manorbier and Swanlake in the east or Stackpole from the south.
Distance from Bluestone
12.1 miles, 21 minutes,
The carpark is adjacent to the beach and has parking and specific disabled parking space. (SA71 5LY)
Freshwater East is in a great location to explore this section of the coastline. If you head east along the coast path, you’ll find the beautiful secluded bay, Swanlake, which is well worth a visit. Carry on and you soon hit Manorbier where the beach is overlooked by a beautiful 11th century castle that is open to visitors.
In the opposite direction, is Stackpole. The Stackpole estate is managed by the National Trust and along with walks amongst the manmade waterways and woodlands there is also a popular café at Stackpole Quay that’s great to stop for refreshment. Carry on further and you have the beautiful Bosherston Lily Ponds, Broad Haven South Beach and the spectacular Barafundle Bay.
2019 Green Coast Award
2019 Seaside Award