Visitors to our beautiful part of Wales are spoilt for choice when it comes to adventures in the great outdoors. Pembrokeshire has everything from wonderful walking paths and fruitful fishing spots, to challenging cycle paths and stunning seabird sanctuaries - not to mention spectacular sea-scapes to explore at your heart’s content.
Abseil down - or climb up - steep cliff faces, mountain-bike along tricky trails, or even test your nerves by paragliding – if you’re feeling brave! There’s a slower pace at the great golf courses, many horse riding stables, plus plenty of magnificent birdwatching sites.
Here are some of our favourite outdoor things to do in Pembrokeshire.
Pembrokeshire is a happy hunting ground for birdwatchers, with a wide variety of birdlife on display that includes seabirds, songbirds, raptors, waders, wildfowl, corvines, ocean wanderers, warblers, finches - the list goes on and on! The seabird sanctuary islands are world famous - Skomer, Skokholm, Ramsey, Grassholm - for Manx shearwaters, guillemots, razorbills, puffins, kittiwakes, gannets, storm petrels, shags, cormorants and a host of other species. There are daily trips to Skomer by boat from Martin’s Haven, and evening trips are also available, when the loud and eerie cries of emerging shearwaters fill the air.
Springtime is the best period for a visit to Skomer for the island is not only loud with birds then, but also a riot of colour, with oceans of bluebells and red campion. Dale Sailing (01646 603109, 603110 and 603123) offers boat trips to and around the islands, as does Thousand Island Expeditions at St Davids (01437 721721) and Venture Jet at Trefin (01348 837764). Pembrokeshire Boat Charters at Milford Haven (01646-4946578) specialises in tailor-made boat trips around the islands and the estuaries.
Climbing and Abseiling
Climbing has been a popular sport in Pembrokeshire for many years, with the flat-topped cliffs on the south coast near St Govans being one of the favourite spots for this challenging and demanding sport. Classic locations include Castlemartin cliffs, St Davids Head, Lydstep Head, St Govans and Porthclais. But climbers must be aware, there are climbing restrictions in some places, details of which can be obtained on www.thebmc.co.uk. A Classic half day Climb with TYF will allow you to get to grips with the beautiful sea cliffs of north Pembrokeshire. Full-day sessions are also available.
Activities start from TYF’s Activity HQ and ethical retail shop on 1 High Street, St Davids SA62 6SA. For more details, call the team on 01437 721611, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.TYF.com.
Coastcraft is a fully-guided two-hour trip that is suitable for children of all ages. A little like Bushcraft, but by the coast, you’ll get the chance to explore one of the most unspoilt stretches of wild coastline, sea cliffs and beaches. A guide will walk with you along the famous Pembrokeshire Coast path, and teach you about Pembrokeshire's world class flora and fauna. You will also try fire-lighting outdoors with kelly kettles and hot chocolate, and discuss remote first aid.
TYF provides supervision, OS maps and head to local sites to see some of the finest coastal views and marine wildlife spots in the UK. With a minimum group size of four people, adults and children cost £20 each, while children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a parent, relative or guardian. TYF is open 7 days a week, year round.
Activities start from its HQ and ethical retail shop on 1 High Street, St Davids SA62 6SA. For more details, call the team on 01437 721611, email email@example.com or visit the website at www.TYF.com.
Take to Pembrokeshire on two wheels and explore beautiful countryside along many miles of SusTrans cycleways criss-crossing the county and a network of bridleways and footpaths. Mapped routes have been designed at Saundersfoot, Newport, St Govans, Canaston Woods, and in the Preseli Hills, while routes in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park area are largely directed through quiet country lanes and byways linking coastal villages and hamlets, with the bonus of magnificent views.
Another extremely popular cycling venue is Llys-y-Fran Reservoir and Country Park, with its undulating and, in places, quite demanding track right around the perimeter of the reserve. Cycles and helmets can be hired at the Visitor Centre, and the track is suitable only for off-road bikes. The contacts at Llys-y-fran, which belongs to Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) are: 01437 532273 or 01437 532694.
Cycling is also encouraged in Newport, where Newport Bike Hire (01239 826724 or 07779 227258) offers the opportunity to cycle ‘in the heart of Pembrokeshire.’
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Information and Visitor Centre at Oriel y Parc, St Davids, runs an exciting two-day event called Cyclosportive, offering serious riders the choice of three challenging weekend rides of 50, 75 and 100 miles. There are also family rides, which include a children’s treasure hunt.
There are few nicer, more picturesque places in the world than Pembrokeshire and the sights and sounds of the countryside are only enhanced with a trained bird of prey flying along side you as you walk through lush, green fields and beautiful woodland. Established in 2004 in West Wales, Pembrokeshire Falconry is a family-run business that offers the chance to come face-to-face with birds of prey and share in the magic and excitement that only comes from that first time a hawk, falcon, eagle or owl lands on your arm.
During your time with Pembrokeshire Falconry, you could see a variety of wildlife such as rabbits, squirrels, partridge and pheasants, numerous song birds and a variety of birds of prey including buzzards, sparrow hawks, kestrels and red kites All experiences, when booked through Pembrokeshire Falconry, are kept 100% private and its birds are suitable for the whole family to hold, fly and enjoy! For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07833 921421.
Surrounded on three sides by the sea and with several inland fisheries, Pembrokeshire offers a wide range of opportunities for angling and fishing - whether you want to enjoy some sea-angling from boats, rocks, beaches or jetties, or make your catches from the area’s ponds, lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Sea-angling for mackerel, bass, wrasse and flatfish is a regular pastime, with the most popular locations being Newgale, Freshwater West, Amroth, Dale, MIlford Haven and Tenby.
There is even some angling available at Bosherston Lily Ponds near Stackpole, though there are restrictions in place and a licence is required. One of the most popular inland fisheries is Llysyfran Reservoir and Country Park, one of the largest game-fishing venues in West Wales, where Dwr Cymru (Welsh Water) maintains a stock of 22,000 rainbow trout throughout the season, and where there is also an indigenous population of brown trout.
More information is available from John Sampson on 07585 964996 or by calling the Rangers or Visitor Centre on 01437 532694 or 532273. White House Mill Trout Fishery near Llampeter Velfrey, Whitland (01834 831304 / www.whitehousemill.co.uk) is another premier fishery specialising in ‘top of the water’ fly fishing for rainbow, blue and brown trout. Elsewhere, Yet-y-Gors Fishery and Campsite at Manorowen, Goodwick, is another coarse fishery set in 17 acres of unspoilt countryside, with two lakes and a third in the process of restoration.
The facility is open between February 1 and January 2 at 7am, and for more information visit the website at www.yet-y-gors.co.uk
If you’re looking for fantastic golf facilities, Pembrokeshire is certainly spoilt for choice with long-established 18-hole golf clubs including Tenby, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Newport and St Davids - together with a number of new nine-hole mini courses and many driving ranges. No doubt the oldest links in the county is Tenby which was established in 1888 and has seen quite a few championship competitions over the years.
Meanwhile, Haverfordwest’s century-old Golf Club was started on a different site on the town’s disused Georgian Racecourse. Now situated on land beside the A4O at Arnold’s Down, its relatively new clubhouse commands a magnificent panoramic view to the west, which includes Haverfordwest and Roch Castle.
Milford Haven had a modest course until the late 1950s when the oil industry bought land along Milford Haven Waterway to build their refineries. The Club benefited significantly from oil industry funding when Amoco drove a road through to its terminal at Gellyswick and was able to redesign the 18-hole course.
St David’s is another links course with splendid views and many tricky ups and downs, on the cliff and among the dunes at Whitesands Bay, but perhaps the most picturesque links in the county is in North Pembrokeshire at Newport, where the golfers face the challenge of many hidden greens, with gorse-clad hills and a beautiful view from the clubhouse across to historic Newport.
Mountain biking is a growing sport in Pembrokeshire where there are several trails - some of them challenging, and others making for easy riding. The 16-mile Canaston Trail takes riders from the quaint little market town of Narberth, which in recent years has carved a special niche for itself as a unique boutique town of specialised gift shops, restaurants and art galleries.
The bikers meet at the Townsmoor car park and head west down steep Carding Mill Lane to the largest ancient woodland in Pembrokeshire, 500-acre Canaston Wood, where the A40 trunk road crosses the Eastern Cleddau river at Canaston Bridge. For those who want to enjoy an elevated ride with all the views that go with it, the 14-mile Preseli Trail is an excellent option. It takes riders on some lung-busting climbs up to the summit of the Preseli Hills at Foelcwmcerwyn (1,760ft), and the views from the top are stunning.
Not far away is the Newport Trail, which starts in that picturesque seaside town and follows a route past the prehistoric burial chamber or Cromlech at Pentre Ifan. Also in North Pembrokeshire is the 7.5-mile trail around the Llysyfran reservoir, with its imposing 110ft high dam holding back millions of tons of water to form a lake providing facilities for fishing, sailing and boating.
Elsewhere, the 14-mile Last Invasion Trail at Fishguard visits the site of the last invasion of Britain by French mercenaries in 1797, while The Brunel Trail - a 14-mile circuit along the Sus-Trans track between Haverfordwest and Neyland Marina - has the luxury of a tarmacadam surface following Brunel’s South Wales railway track.
Paragliding is mainly carried out under the experienced control of Pembrokeshire Paragliding, an organisation based next to the medieval Abbey at St Dogmaels, near Cardigan, which has been operating in the area for 12 years. In 2011 it received a ‘First Place Gold’ in the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards.
Pembrokeshire Paragliding offers training through its paraglider courses with tandem flights, on which the inexperienced visitor can be taken up by an expert for a bird’s eye view of the coast and countryside. A National Geographic survey carried out a few years ago placed Pembrokeshire joint second in the world as a coastal paragliding venue - ahead of Hawaii! Pembrokeshire Paragliding is one of the only schools in the UK with access to several beautiful beaches where you can conduct safe training, flying from the dunes.
Often the team will finish a day’s beach training with a barbecue, and canoes will be available for students to use should they wish to play in the surf. Pembrokeshire Paragliding provides tuition to the highest standard, and operates as a BHPA registered school, as well as being passionate about sharing its enthusiasm and knowledge of paragliding. To find out more visit the website at www.pembrokeshireparagliding.com
Walk the rolling hills, beautiful wooded valleys and estuaries and, of course, the 183-mile long Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Footpath, which encircles the entire county from Amroth in the south-east to Poppit in the north-west. The only coastal National Park in the country, not only does it cover the coastal strip, but there are two large inland enclaves: one in the north embracing the Preseli Hills and one in mid-Pembrokeshire covering a large area of the Daucleddau Estuary from Carew and Upton in the south to Canaston Bridge and Freystrop in the north.
The Coastal Footpath can be walked in stages, with the help of the several coastal shuttle services provided by the National Park Authority in collaboration with Pembrokeshire County Council, which can pick up and drop off the walkers at various bus stops and car parks to avoid long treks back to the car or campsite.
These colourful little buses have jolly names like the Puffin Shuttle, the Poppit Rocket. the Strumble Shuttle and the Coastal Cruiser. The National Park Tourist Information Centres are: Oriel y Parc at St Davids (01437 720392 / email@example.com / www.orielyparc.co.uk); Newport TIC in Long Street (01239 820912 / newportTIC@pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk) and Tenby TIC at South Parade (01834 845040 / firstname.lastname@example.org).
Visitors are also recommended to pick up a copy of the National Park’s informative free-sheet newspaper, Coast to Coast, which is available at all Tourist Information Centres and also in libraries, shops and supermarkets. It is a mine of information about the activities and facilities available in the National Park.