Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales
Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales – by Mick Garratt © Wikipedia Commons

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is located in south west Wales, designated a national park back in 1952, the Pembrokeshire Coast is a long established national park attracting many visitors each year. The park is known for its famous coastal scenery, beaches, coastline and rich cultural heritage. The national park is managed by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and includes a number of charming small coastal towns and villages within its borders, providing a place of peace and tranquillity in south west Wales.

The park has four main parts, the south Pembrokeshire Coast, the Daugleddau estuary, the St Bride's Bay coast and the Preseli Hills. Whilst the park is known for its spectacular coastal scenery, inland sections of the park include wooded valleys and moorland. The park is one of the most compact national parks in the UK, the different parts of the park are located relatively close together making it easier for visitors to see more. The area has plenty of history and heritage and includes over 270 scheduled ancient monuments, 13 conservation areas and includes Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) noted for both their biological and geological importance and National Nature Reserves including Tŷ Canol and Pengelli Forest.

The area is popular for day trippers with popular beaches and a firm favourite for outdoor enthusiasts. Popular activities include surfing, sailing, diving, climbing, swimming, kayaking, coasteering, geocaching, horse riding, caving and walking and cycling with a number of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy the scenic coastal scenery and inspiring landscape, varied wildlife, some of the finest beaches in the UK and take part in a range of activities whilst enjoying the tranquilly and peace of the area.

Quick Facts

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park:

Year of Designation: 1952

Population: 22,800

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 279

Conservation Areas: 13

Size in square kilometres: 621

Main Settlements: Newport, St Davids, Saundersfoot and Tenby.
Located in: Pembrokeshire, South West Wales.
Highest Point: Foel Cwmcerwyn at 536 metres.


The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is located in the south western corner of Wales, it became the second national park in Wales after Snowdonia. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is located approx 90-100 miles to the west of Cardiff, whilst the Brecon Beacon National Park is located approx 50-60 miles to the east. Time permitting visitors to the Pembrokeshire Coast could combine a visit here to the Brecon Beacons. The Pembrokeshire Coast provide a place where visitors can enjoy some of the finest coastal scenery in Wales including a number of award winning beaches, away from the traffic and congestion of large towns and cities, making it an ideal place to enjoy a break and get closer to nature. Historically the Pembrokeshire Coast have been inhabited since prehistoric times and over the years a number of archaeological finds chart the history of the area including Iron Age Hill Forts, burial mounds, churches and castles.

Over the years settlements have been built in the are; there is plenty of evidence of the Iron Age in Pembrokeshire including hill forts, standing stones, field patterns and roundhouse remains. Over the years the Normans came to the area and during the Tudor period local towns including Tenby, Pembroke and Newport grew and there are still reminders of the Tudor period through historic buildings and castles.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a national trail that is 168 miles long and has viewpoints all along its length. Established since 1970, the path has become a well known and well loved national trail attracting a number of walkers each year, it is regarded as one of the finest hiking routes in the world. One of main attractions of the path is that it follows much of the winding local coastline, ensuring that there are many places where you can start from and finish and know that you will be treated to some great scenery during your walk.

The tourist information centre can provide walkers with a guide book highlighting the many attractions on route. There are some truly wonderful coastline to see along with the rugged cliffs, great beaches and every type of coastal landform. A quarter of the trail is within designated conservation sites whilst well over three quarters if the path is within the national park.

The location in south west Wales means the Pembrokeshire Coast is a popular attractions especially in the summer months with many visitors and holiday makers from both Wales and across the UK visiting the region on short breaks and holidays. The Pembrokeshire Coast is located around 2 hours drive from the Welsh cities of Cardiff and Swansea, between 2.5 to 3 hours drive from Bristol and Bath, 4 hours drive from Birmingham and 4.5 to 5 hours from London, making it assessable from much of Wales, southern England and the Midlands. The park is located around 2 hours drive from Cardiff and Swansea making it a convenient place from which to explore the wider south Wales area.

The area is famous for its spectacular coastal scenery, some of the finest in the UK, moorland, valleys and a number of local towns and villages known for their warmth and hospitality. In common with most national parks in the UK, the Pembrokeshire Coast does not include any major large cities or large towns within its borders, although it does contain the compact city of St Davids, known for being the smallest city in the UK in both size and population. The other main settlements include Newport, Saundersfoot and Tenby with a number of smaller villages and hamlets.

There are a number of towns that are located close by just outside the official border of the park, these include Merthyr Tyfil, Haverfordwest, Fishguard, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. The towns are conveniently located for exploring the national park and the surrounding areas of south west Wales with local facilities, amenities and accommodation. The cities of Cardiff and Swansea are located approx under two hours drive from the park, offering a choice of accommodation, local amenities and local transport links to travel to and from the national park.

The Special qualities relating to the areas scenic coastline, challenging landscapes, natural beauty including the idyllic beaches, estuaries, wooded valleys, archaeology and diversity of wildlife ensure Pembrokeshire Coast is a special place. The qualities include the park being a haven for peace and calm, a rural setting with open landscapes and clean air and clean seas offering visitors a chance to relax and enjoy one of Wales’s finest settings. The park has a greater variety of geological and landform scenery than any other area of the same compact size in the UK. The rich history of the area, way of life, traditions and strong local communities in the local towns, villages and hamlets mark the area out as special.

Local accommodation includes a choice of hotels ranging from inexpensive budget hotels, mid range hotels and luxurious hotels, cosy B & B’s and inns, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, cottages, camping facilities and pub stays; there is accommodation available in St Davids, Freshwater East, Tenby and Saundersfoot within the park boundaries and also in Milford Haven, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, Haverfordwest and Fishguard that are all conveniently located for further exploring the Pembrokeshire Coast. The cities of Cardiff and Swansea; both offer a choice of accommodation, facilities, amenities and transport links offering a convenient choice for visitors to base themselves from when exploring Pembrokeshire Coast and the surrounding local area.

Visitor Centres & Information Points are located at various locations in the Pembrokeshire Coast. Visitor centres are located at Newport, Tenby and St Davids, each has knowledgeable staff with local knowledge on local attractions, things to see and do, local tips and advice. The centres include books, maps, gifts, stationary, leaflets, brochures and more. There are a number of tourist information centres operated by Pembrokeshire County Council at various locations across Pembrokeshire including Fishguard, Milford Haven, Haverfordwest and Pembroke. A visit to the visitor centres and village information points provide a good first port of call for visitors and can help to better plan, organise and enjoy your trip.

Pembrokeshire Coast Towns & Villages include Tenby is a seaside town located 18 miles from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. The historic harbour that dates back to the 14th century, over the years has become one of the most photographed locations in Wales. The town is a popular activity centre, with water and leisure activities including such as fishing, sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing and cruises to the nearby Islands of Caldey and St Margaret’s, that are known for their wildlife. The seaside resort of Tenby boasts the North Beach that has been awarded the European Blue Flag in recognition of the good water quality, facilities for visitors and beach management, making it a popular beach for families. There are local golf courses nearby for golfing aficionados and a leisure centre and museum making it a nice town to visit.

The city of St Davids is a lively market town located close to the south eastern corner of the park, 22 miles east of Milford Haven. The city is the smallest city in the UK in terms of both size and population. Named after the patron saint of Wales, the history of the city goes back to the 4th century. The compact nature of the city makes it convenient for visitors to walk around the city when seeing the sights. The city is well known for its impressive 12th century St Davids cathedral, distinctive for its pink and grey colouring. The Cathedral is a testament to great medieval architecture and there is the annual St David's Cathedral Festival is held in May each year as a celebration of classical music. Next to the cathedral is the ruin of St Davids Bishops Palace, where much of the structure remains minus the roof.

Visitors can see one of the seasonal local markets that take place here along with the Oriel y Parc Gallery & Visitor Centre that includes a number of exhibitions and artworks. The famous Whitesands Bay beach is located close by, ever popular with surfers and holiday makers, set in stunning natural scenery.

Newport in Pembrokeshire is a popular town with tourists and visitors to the national park. Located 20 miles north of Haverfordwest in the north of the national park, the town is of Norman origin and includes a castle, historically there are signs of settlements going back to Mesolithic times. The historic Preseli Mountains are situated close by offering truly wonderful views from the summits and have been described by some as the most captivating part of Pembrokeshire. There is evidence that Neolithic man lived here, and his places of worship are still here including the stone circles such as Gors Fawr near Mynachlogddu and the burial mounds, including Pentre Ifan. It is believed that it was from the Preseli Mountains that the renowned bluestones were taken to Stonehenge, an extraordinary feat at the time.

Local attractions include Newport Castle, a historic Norman castle that is now in private ownership, Market Street and the surrounding streets provide the commercial centre of the town with a choice of bars, pubs, restaurants and independent shops. Visitors can see the regular street market on Mondays with local produce available.

Little Haven is a village located 10 miles from Haverfordwest on the south west coast of Pembrokeshire. The charming village is a compact size and includes a few local shops and pubs and benefits from not being overly commercialised. The village maintains its charm and character providing visitors with an ideal place to enjoy the beach and the local scenic surroundings away from the crowds. There is local accommodation available including local B & Bs and farm guesthouses.

Castell Henllys Iron Age Fort is located a few miles from Newport, set in 30 acres of woodland and river meadows, the Scheduled Ancient Monument is regarded as providing great insight for archaeological excavation and experimental archaeology. The site has been excavated for many years by archaeologists and thatched Iron Age buildings have been subsequently reconstructed located on their original foundations. There is a visitor centre that includes a gift shop and exhibition area, visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the riverside and woodland paths and learn more about the sculpture trails that depict a number of myths and legends.

Visitors can find a granary and four roundhouses that have been reconstructed on their original Iron Age foundations, a visit to the site provides both an interesting and education trip for the whole family.

Pentre Ifan is a Bronze-Age megalithic site, located a few miles from Newport. The site is thought to date back to 4000 B.C. It is regarded as among the finest Welsh hilltop megaliths and is believed to have been constructed as a burial chamber. The site is owned and maintained by Cadw on behalf of the Welsh government and includes free entry. Set in scenic surroundings overlooking Fishguard Bay, the site is well worth a visit for history fans.

Whitesands Bay is a famous beach located a few miles from St Davids in west Wales. Famous for its golden sandy beach and its sunsets, the beach is a firm favourite among surfers along with families. The blue flag standard beach is known for providing some of the best surfing in Wales and has been mentioned. The beach is very popular in the summer months and includes a beach café and shop along with lifeguard service. Local facilities include youth hostel, golf course and local campsite. To the north of the beach is Carn Llidi, a rocky outcrop standing close to 600 feet high, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path passes along the bay, the path gives access to ancient sites that include hut circles, megalithic burial chambers and enclosures.

The varied landscape and environment in Pembrokeshire ensures the parks is a wildlife haven. The ancient woodlands, grassland, rocky stores and estuary mud-flats ensure a range of habitats with a range of endangered animals and plants. Visitors can see a range of seabirds at the park including Manx shearwaters and gannets. The coast path is where visitors can see grey seals and dolphins, whilst the woodlands and marsh areas are home a number of rare insects and plants.

Walks & Activities are available in the Pembrokeshire Coast, with a number of walks ranging from gentle beach strolls and in scenic countryside walks to moderate, energetic and much more challenging routes. Visitors can set off on a self guided walk, join an organised walk or set off with a qualified walking guide. There are in excess of 620 miles of bridleways and footpaths with walks for everyone available including those with an interest in history, the countryside, family walks, nature walks, riverside walks and more.

There are a number of walking routes including the Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail, a challenging 186 miles route that goes from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south. Other popular spots for walkers include the Preseli mountains. There are guided walks available from qualified walking guides, visitors can benefit from local knowledge and expertise. The walks are a great way to learn more about the park and see the wildlife, archaeology and ecology up close.

Cycling is a popular activity in the park with country roads, bridleways and lanes offering plenty of opportunities for cyclists including touring and mountain biking. Cycling in the Pembrokeshire Coast offers an environmentally friendly way to get closer to nature, get fit and see the delights of the area from a different perspective whilst enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are a number of touring routes where visitors can see historic sites, castles, beaches and stop off at a local pub or inn.

Other activities in the park include water sports including kayaking, canoeing, diving, surfing and swimming. Other popular activities include coasteering, geocaching, horse riding, caving, rockpooling, sea angling and bird/wildlife watching . The activities offer visitors an enjoyable way to further explore the national park and see the best in the varied wildlife and landscape of the park up close. The activities and walks cater for people of all abilities, with a number of things to see and experience, there is something for a wide range of interests and tastes.

Visitors to the Pembrokeshire Coast will find there a choice of things to see, do and enjoy in the park. It is a well established and popular destination among day trippers and visitors on weekend, short breaks and longer breaks. The park enjoys good road and public transport links, making it assessable from Wales and much of England. The range of landscapes including the fine coastal scenery, unique islands, open spaces along with the historic towns and villages makes the Pembrokeshire Coast an ideal place to relax and get away from it all. Visitors enjoy the great outdoors, take part in outdoor recreation away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

How to Get There

The Pembrokeshire Coast is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

From Cardiff, the city of St Davids in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is located just over 110 miles away via the M4, A48, A40 and A487. From Swansea, St Davids is located 73 miles away via the A483, M4, A48, A40 and A487. The journey time from Cardiff is approx 2 hours 15 minutes to 2 hour 45 minutes, from Swansea is approx 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours. St Davids in the Pembrokeshire Coast is located 260 miles from central London. From London, take the A4, then the M4 motorway all the way up to the junction with the A48, the take the A48, A40 and A487 that goes to St Davids. The approx journey time is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours 30 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Haverfordwest has regular services from Cardiff Central station with a journey time of approx 90 minutes. There are regular services to Cardiff Central station from London Paddington railway station, the approx journey time is 2 hours, depending on service and time of day. From Haverfordwest there are local bus services available to St Davids and Fishguard in the national park. For more information on local Pembrokeshire bus services please see: Pembrokeshire Buses.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular coaches available from London Victoria coach station to Haverfordwest. The approx journey times are 7 hours 10 minutes to 8 hours, depending on service, traffic and time of day. From Cardiff, there are bus services available to Haverfordwest, the journey time is around 3 hours 45 minutes to 4 hours. Coach services are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
National Park Offices
Llanion Park
Pembroke Dock
SA72 6DY

Telephone: +44 (0)845 345 7275

Website: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park


For Local Search and Directions see: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Pembrokeshire Coast ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the national park, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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