Day One – Amroth to Manorbier - Pembrokeshire Coast Path South
Distance - 15 miles, but this section of the Wales Coast Path can easily be split into two shorter days with an overnight stop at Tenby after 7 miles and the chance to stay in that stunning location.
Grade - Generally Moderate Grade walking but with some strenuous climbs between Saundersfoot and Tenby and again around Skrinkle Haven - What these grades mean
Sheltered, scenic walking initially through rounded hills and wooded valleys to Tenby. Beyond Tenby you enter a more typical stage of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path with wilder limestone cliffs, sea caves and secluded coves.
Two simple plaques, one English and one Welsh, mark the start of this section of The Wales Coast Path and your 186 mile adventure begins by walking the strung out length of the quiet shingle and sand village at Amroth.
A climb through woods above the ocean brings you to the Celtic Cycleway track as it heads over cliff top meadows before descending to Wisemans Bridge at the foot of the appropriately named Pleasant Valley.
The Welsh Coast Path joins a disused mineral railway here on a section known as the Miners Walk. During the industrial revolution, coal was brought down to the estuary on this route from the inland mines at Kilgetty, and you pass through a section of three dark and atmospheric sea level tunnels burrowed through the cliffs and lined by the gated remains of old mine shafts.
The old railway line ends at the tiny port of Saundersfoot. Here, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path heads around the back of a high walled harbourside built to handle the 100,000 tonnes of coal a year that left on ships here in its heyday.
Today you will still see the impressive industrial harbour now given over to a tranquil sailing marina and ‘bucket and spade’ resort. With extensive golden sands and a laid back air, it’s a great spot for morning refreshments on the route from Amroth.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path now climbs through some superb thick natural woodland, ascending steeply through Rhode Wood where elusive red squirrels still reside, before you break out at the narrow tree covered Monkstone Point Headland. Descend here to the hidden beach at Monkstone with enticing views ahead now beckoning you on towards the distant golden sands at Tenby.
The Wales Coast Path then descends steeply through beautifully shady and dense pines to cross a stream at the bottom of Lodge Valley and then again at Waterwynch Bay where a succession of little woodland bridges takes you inland.
A long, gentle descent follows into the picture postcard seaside resort of Tenby with its Medieval Streets, imposing City walls and welcoming golden sands.
For those walking to Manorbier today you can get to take lunch in these inspiring historical surroundings.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path passes through the little beached boats in Tenby harbour and swings below the Castle ruins. If the tide is low, you can walk out via Castle Beach, which lies between Tenby and its offshore island of St Catherine’s, where an imposing Victorian Fort towers above you like a kind of Welsh Alcatraz.
After exploring this most charming of towns, the Coast Path leaves Tenby via its old City Walls and Gateway along the grand Victorian Esplanade. Now, over a mile of broad sands at South Beach stretch before you, though if you prefer you can head into the huge grassy dune system known as The Burrows that lines the back of the beach.
Close to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path here the pleasant village of Penally provides an upmarket overnight option with its famous Abbey Hotel. Those passing through, however, can still rest up to enjoy its little pub and pretty church crammed with Celtic crosses.
If the Army firing range at Penally is open to the public you can skip the village and take a short climb to Giltar Point, where the old limestone quarries and cliff side boat loading platforms can still be seen, backed with superb views of the holy monastic island of Caldey.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path abruptly thrusts the walker into big cliffs and deep coves, as views open up of the perfect crescent shaped sands at Lydstep Haven Beach up ahead. Whilst the back of Lydstep Bay itself has been lost to a caravan site, the walker can avoid it by dropping onto the sands to walk along the tide line and then taking a very steep climb out through coastal woodlands rich with wild garlic and bluebells to Lydstep Point.
Our itineraries suggest a short detour from The Pembrokeshire Coast Path route at this point to take in the dramatic Lydstep headland. Here, using a National Trust Circular Path, you can travel high on rich meadows above huge limestone cliffs, stacks and pinnacles that are cut through with dramatic sea caves and blowholes. Views on a good day reveal the distant mass of Lundy Island and even the North Devon Coast many miles to the south.
This is a stunning area of grassy downs and a carpet of wildflowers in spring, often including the rare green winged orchid. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path then dips through several deep ravines before presenting you with the iconic Church Doors at Skrinkle Haven. An unforgettable spot where a huge limestone arch introduces an improbable knife edge ridge of cliff which thrusts out to sea neatly partitioning several tiny coves far below.
The breath-taking cliffs are riddled with sea caves and folded rocks which are the “Church Doors”. Entrance to heaven or not, the rock faces change at the Doors from hard grey limestone to the deep crumbling red sandstone that frames the next walking section. Clamber down the cliffs to the beach on an exhilarating metal staircase to see the huge natural arch here from beach level.
A brief inland diversion takes you around the first of several military areas at Manorbier Army Camp, and those wanting to visit the Youth Hostel may well be amused to find it’s housed in a converted NATO storage building. Returning faithfully to the coastline the Pembrokeshire Coast Path then traverses the isolated cove above Presipe Beach and with the path now clinging to purple, heather clad slopes you round the next wild headland at Priests Nose.
Suddenly the stunning empty sands of Manorbier Bay appear, its dramatic backdrop the fairy-tale castle presiding over the beach, and you finish the section pausing at the impressive stone slab of the Kings Quoit. Here you will find a Neolithic Burial Chamber that hugs the cliff side and which for over 3000 years has been looking out to sea from this most stunning location – without doubt an outstanding place to be buried!