April normally brings National Parks fortnight here in the UK and National Park Week in the US. Only this April is not normal. It’s very far from normal. We’re in the middle of fighting a pandemic, COVID-19. And Instead of being able to get out and explore some of these places of natural beauty we are all trying to do our bit to help by staying at home (expect for some quite specific reasons).
And stay at home we will.
We consider ourselves fortunate that home for us is right on the edge of a National Park. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. But we’ll hold our hands up here and say that we are guilty of taking it for granted sometimes. Maybe even a lot of the time. But not right now. Now we’re more grateful than ever that we live where we do. And that compelled us to write this post about it.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is situated in Pembrokeshire in West Wales. In fact it’s as far west as you can go in the country. And what a country it is. Wales is home to no less than 3 National Parks but for the purposes of this post we’ll concentrate on Pembrokeshire.
Why is Pembrokeshire Coast a national park?
Because the majority of the park is on the coast you’ll see some spectacular examples of the power of nature. In fact, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is the only truly coastal one in the UK. And with so much coastline there are plenty of beaches.
There are over 50 within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, many of which have received awards such as Blue Flag or Green Coast. Some of them are also regularly voted as the best around. Tenby was voted Sunday Times beach of the year last year and Barafundle the best in Wales on Tripadvisor. Talking of Barafundle, this beautiful beach regularly gets voted as one of the best in the world as it was here by Passport Magazine in 2017.
But Pembrokeshire is not just about incredible coast and stunning beaches. In contrast to these are the rugged mountains, particularly, in the North of the County.
At the Northern end of the Park proudly stand the Preseli Hills (Mynyddoedd y Preseli). Like somewhere out of a Bronte novel this is an incredibly atmospheric place. Great for exploring and being outdoors, there are some spectacular views to be had here. Hill walkers, hikers and summit baggers will all appreciate the peaks at Foel Cwm Cerwyn, Foel Drygarn and Foel Eryr in particular.
There’s a lot of history in these hills. It’s said that the Bluestones at Stonehenge were transported 140 miles from this very place (www.english-heritage.org.uk) And speaking of history.
Lower down the Preseli hills, in Brynberian, is the finest example of a pre-historic Burial Chamber in Pembrokeshire, Pentre Ifan. As it stands today it is estimated that the capstone, which is supported by three uprights, could weigh as much as 16 tons! Fast forward to the Middle Ages…..
St David's City
Yes, really! Pembrokeshire is home to Britain’s smallest City. Named after the Patron Saint of Wales St David’s was given City status in the 12th Century. The Cathedral is St. David’s final resting place and forms the main focus to the city. But it’s not the only thing to see here. The Bishops Palace, St Non’s Chapel and Caerfai Bay are just some of the many others, all within walking distance.
From Cathedrals to Castles, The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is home to no less than 16 of them. Possibly the finest of which are Pembroke Castle and Carew Castle. Pembroke Castle is the birth place of Henry VII in 1457 and Carew Castle sits in a location that is almost picture perfect.
Planning your trip to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Don’t take this the wrong way but do not come to Pembrokeshire right now. We all have to stay at home and beat this thing. But when we do and the restrictions are lifted you will get a very warm Pembrokeshire welcome. These are some of the ways you’ll be able to get here then.
Less than 2 hours from Cardiff by road, Pembrokeshire can be accessed from the East by taking the A40 from the very Western end of the M4. From the north you can take a very scenic route through Oswestry and the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park on the A483 to Carmarthen and then take the A40 to Pembrokeshire.
Train services run frequently from London Paddington and Manchester Piccadilly to Cardiff and then on to Tenby or Milford Haven. The Heart of Wales line runs to Llanelli and Swansea from Shrewsbury. You can access Pembrokeshire from Shrewsbury by taking the heart of Wales line to Llanelli and changing for trains to Tenby or Milford Haven.
You can fly into Cardiff International airport in Wales before travelling on by road or rail. The closest Airports in England are Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Heathrow.
This a just an overview of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and only just scratches the surface. Over the coming months and years we will continue to post about it but in more detail.
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