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Day Nine - Broad Haven to Solva, West Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Distance - 11 miles

Moderate Grade Walking but with some strenuous sections from Druidstone to Newgale beach and again from north of Newgale Village to Solva - What these grades mean.

Summary - A change to more mountainous climbs and descents, with strenuous sections where you cut through hidden valleys and coves.  A two mile section of wide golden sands to break this up at Newgale.

The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path climbs steeply from Broad Haven Sands above the two rock arches at Den’s Door, but once the cliff tops are reached, enjoy commanding views back as far as Skomer Island and forward towards the lure of St David's Head.  Beneath your feet, the cliffs here are some of the most fractured and unstable on the whole Welsh Coast Path.

Witness the huge landslip at Black Point where the rocks tumble often as you watch.You pass a huge scrubland undercliff section broken loose below the coast path, and soon to descend in a huge landslide to the ocean below, taking the last mounds of its Iron Age cliff fort to a watery end.  At the Haroldstone Chins Rocks, the geology changes again and far older and smaller fractures pattern a cliff face drenched in rich green lichen, a sign of how clean and pure the air is here. 

The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path pushes inland around Druidstone Villa's, dropping to sea level past a space aged grass roofed 'Eco House' built into the high-backed dunes and mischievously renamed as the ‘Tellytubby House’ by the locals.  Druidstone Haven has a beautifully remote feel around it with its small stream tumbling down to the beach from the mountainous dunes above.

Follow it to explore the beach with its fine pinnacles and immaculate sands. It’s a touch disappointing to note that Druidstone has nothing to do with mystical men in white robes and beards. Drue was in fact one of the Norman Knights who took this place as his own.

At the inlet of Nolton Haven, a narrow break in the cliffs opens up into a huge coliseum like cove that stretches back to a tiny hamlet, little more now than a pub and a church. Yet 200 years ago it was a major harbour for shipping out coal mined between here and Newgale; what has not been lost is the most amazing view out to sea from its secret inlet.

The next section to Newgale is on rather mountainous trail, climbing through a rocky landscape of heather and bracken passing Ricketts Head. A monster sized peaked stack that nature has somehow left behind, isolated and detached from both sea and cliff. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path then takes what feels like an impossibly steep route up the cliff face to pass around the obstruction.

Signs of human activity reappear at the long disused colliery at Trefane Cliff, with its spoil heaps, engine shed ruins and lonely crumbling red brick chimney. Like the Cornish tin mines, deep shafts and narrow galleries were driven 100 metres out below the sea floor here; leaky subterranean mining that was the most dangerous occupation of the time. 

Dropping to the immense beach at Newgale, you now reach the most immaculate sands in the Pembrokeshire National Park, opening out a breathtaking two miles before you to the next mountainous range at the top of St Brides Bay.  You enjoy the first level walk of the day on wide sands under huge skies. It’s a beautiful and immense feeling of open space to enjoy.

The back of the beach is lined by a huge pebble ridge created by the last Ice Age; it’s the Welsh equivalent of Dorset’s Chesil beach which you have to scramble over if you want to visit The Duke of Edinburgh Inn, relocated here in 1896 after its original beach side incarnation was literally washed away by the tides.

Culturally, this is a hugely significant spot as you cross Brandy Brook and the much talked of Landsker line which historically split the English-speaking area of Wales in the south from the Welsh Language areas of the North.

Everything before this little stream, place names, towns and castles, was dominated by the Norman invaders giving it the nickname of Little England beyond Wales. Having crossed the brook, you reach the raw, untainted, Celtic Wales and you immediately notice the prevalence of Welsh place names and culture from here on.

As if the Welsh Coast Path senses the Landsker, it immediately throws up strenuous climbing and descending through the Cwn Mawr valley and the start of the more mountainous scenery of the northern Pembrokeshire Coast Path, all heather slopes and rocky outcrops rising inland of your route.

On your seaward side is the impressive natural arch at Ogof Felen and the imposing sight of Dinas Fach, the first of two huge isthmuses before Solva that protrude out into the ocean like a pair of drinking dragon’s heads, this one with a huge blowhole at its tip adding to the effect.  Its twin is the long snaking ridge of Dinas Fawr which hardy prospectors would inch along looking for Welsh Silver deposits. 

Those today looking for adventure "Striding Edge" style, can head out along its narrow backboned ridge to get superb views over the ocean.  It’s not for the faint hearted however, with sheer drops on both sides hundreds of feet to the ocean.

For the rest of us, the coast path into Solva descends to the idyllic cove at Gwadn on a delightfully wide grassy trail, a relief after those narrow cliff edge paths. Gwadn is one of those heavenly spots sitting at the end of a classic 'U'-shaped glacial valley with carpets of Violets, Squills and Seapinks creating a colourful patchwork with the ever present bright yellow gorse. 

A perfect little pebble ridge rises at the back of the hidden cove overlooking a little wooden “trolls” bridge that the walker uses to ford the valleys stream. Today’s final hurdle is the knife edged Gribbin ridge, dividing the two deep meltwater valleys and then revealing the twisting dog leg harbour of Solva below you, that rightly lays claim to be the prettiest harbour on The Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It’s all the better for your dramatic arrival descending through woodland above scores of sheltering yachts and fishing boats to reach the still waters at an impressive batch of 10 castle like Lime Kilns.

Overnight stops and facilities in the harbour village of Solva on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path South.

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