Pembroke - Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Southern Section.
The most significant habitation on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path since leaving Tenby several days ago. The town is dominated by the immense Castle set above its own expansive tidal moat, the Castle Mill Pond, a nature reserve alive with kingfisher, swans and otter. The original fort here was a wooden one built by the Normans who spotted the potential of a site protected by water on three sides and the Pembroke ridge on the other. As it stands today, Pembroke Castle is simply one of the largest Castles in the whole of Britain, let alone Wales. The immense stone structure built in the 12th century by William Marshal was guaranteed its place in history as it became the royal birthplace of Henry VII.
Its’ superb, rounded drum shaped central keep soars 80ft above the surrounding towers and ramparts, all of it constructed from impregnable stone walls, in some parts over 18ft thick. This unassailable structure worked however as this was the only Norman Castle that never fell to the Welsh.
Indeed the only successful invader was Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War and even he could only ransack the castle after a 48 day siege which was ended when a local traitor helped him cut the water supply off!
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path brings you right past the foot of the structure to admire it in dramatic fashion as you arrive in the town but if you can also fit in a full visit of the castle, you won’t be disappointed.
During the summer months everything from jousting shows to Shakespearian plays can be found within the castle walls and visitors can climb the 100 steps of the main keep for superb views over the town and wider Milford Haven waterway, allowing you to gaze back over your long trek here and examine your route onwards. Explore the site's huge halls and dramatic courtyards or follow mysterious passageways to reach the Dungeon Tower and Prison Cell. There is even a natural cave below the castle in the surreal Wogan Cavern.
Pembroke town beyond the castle is largely a lengthy one street affair stretched out along a narrow limestone ridge. It is a protected conservation area where you will come across parts of the old town walls, two historic churches and the odd medieval tower or lime kiln. An intriguing mix of little shops, a daily indoor market and rows of Georgian and Victorian Houses vie with a handful of good restaurants, olde world pubs, coaching inns and tea shops - good respite for those walking in from the isolation of Angle.
It’s easy to escape from the main town for an evening wander below the castle along the water’s edge at the quayside, where you will find the sleepy relics of old customs houses and mills, a legacy of the medieval trades of leather making, weaving and tailoring that flourished down here below the castle walls.
For those finishing their walk here there are excellent public transport options including the train service heading east back to Swansea and on through to England.
However if this is to be your last night you should try to fit in a visit to the castle before departing the next day.