Walk 5 - Freshwater West to Angle
Distance: 10 miles.
Distance from Bluestone: 32 min (18.5 mi) to Freshwater West starting point.
Toilets: There are toilets at the starting point of Freshwater West and the end point of Angle.
Parking: Freshwater West Main Car Park & Angle Village Parking.
Food and drink: This is a rural walk with little along the way, so pack a picnic and plenty of water.
Welcome back to walk number 5 of our trek across the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Meandering through many scenic delights, this section of the trail encapsulates yet more of Pembrokeshire's coastal beauty. This section sees us set off from Freshwater West and head for the peaceful village of Angle.
We set off from Freshwater West, a wild beach backed onto sweeping dunes. The dramatic scenery found here has attracted not just keen beachgoers but also the eyes of Hollywood, with it being featured in several projects for the big screen. The beach was used as a filming location for Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe, where over 600 extras and 150 horses were used to film the French invasion of southern England. Most famously, though, the beach was used extensively in the film of the final two Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 and Part 2. The beach was home to Shell Cottage, the house belonging to the wizards' Bill and Fleur Weasley. The cottage was taken down after filming was completed, but the other site that makes the beach a pilgrimage for Potterheads is the location of Dobby the House-Elf's final resting place. Freshwater West is where Harry laid Dobby to rest and is well worth a visit to experience a little touch of magic.
Leaving Freshwater West will take you along a coastal route with some challenging sections as the dunes rise and fall. The picturesque views that sweep over the Celtic Sea and beyond are more than worth the effort, however. You'll find several promontory forts set on the cliffs along the trail. Promontory forts are defensive structures that sit above cliffs looking out to sea. Remnants of the ancient Iron Age, over 50 neolithic settlement sites can be found along the Pembrokeshire National Coast Path. The Pickard and Sheep Island Forts can be found on the cliffs before arriving at the East Blockhouse. This ruined fort is Elizabethan in origin and, up until the 1990s, was the site of more modern defences, including a radar station.
Continuing the trek through time, the Napoleonic fort of Thorne Island next comes into view, sitting just off the coast. Fortified in the 1850s in response to the growing expansionist threat of Emperor Napoleon III, the fort today is privately owned and a site of renovation. The rocks around the fort are also a popular spot for divers, as the area was notoriously hazardous for shipping and has been the site of many wrecks. Most notable is the wreckage of The Loch Shiel, which sank in 1894. The sailing ship carried cargo, including gunpowder, beef, beer and 60 (or 7000, depending on who you believe) cases of Glasgow whiskey. Much of the shipment was claimed by customs; however, bottles of whiskey remain, which are (unfortunately) undrinkable. Bottles of beer that have been recovered, however, have been reported to be untainted by salt water and, despite being flat, are drinkable, with individual bottles sold for over £1000 at auction.
From here, the Coast Path weaves inland through woodland and shrub past Chapel Bay, an extensive Victorian fort that would have defended the coast with gunfire in the first and second World Wars. The first fort in the world that was built principally from concrete, and the last in Britain built with a moat. Chapel Bay today houses a museum that boasts the most extensive collection of military artefacts held by a charitable trust in Wales.
We end this section of the walk in the pretty village of Angle. Angle is a picturesque village tucked away on the Pembrokeshire coast, mixing modern housing with traditional cottages. The village centres around the 13th-century St. Mary's chapel, with its tower constructed in the 15th century. Other historical sites include the Grade I listed building, the Sailor's Chapel, founded in 1447, and the medieval pele tower on Castle Farm, which would have acted as a small fort or tower house. Refresh yourself here in Angle before joining us for the next leg of our journey.
Next Up: Angle to Pembroke