PEMBROKESHIRE: Best beaches by far

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire
 
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By Tim Saunders

Miles and miles of sandy beaches.
This was an absolute revelation when my family and I visited Wales.
We’d been driving for about four hours and noticed a sign for Port Talbot, which was our first introduction to the country’s splendid coastline. Surprisingly it was not packed with sun worshippers either. We paddled and then returned to the car for the final leg of the journey to Pembrokeshire.
An hour or so later we arrived at West Grove Barns in the village of Hundleton where we stayed in the Beech barn conversion.
With views across farmland to the foreshore it was enjoyably peaceful. Pembroke appeals to ramblers and we initially questioned whether it was appropriate for a young family with a tandem pushchair. But we quickly realised that the area could appeal to everyone.
For obvious reasons we were attracted to a place called Saundersfoot, home to another wonderful golden stretch of sand. Finding free parking was nigh on impossible and as with many places around here there were many one way streets and hills. It was a bit windy and not fancying sand in our sandwiches we headed for the nearby park. Walking the coastal path we passed through some dark tunnels and savoured the views out to sea, treating ourselves to ice creams along the way.
We try to make the most of holiday time and so aimed to get out before 11am – bear in mind we do have two demanding little girls with many needs – and then returned at around 8pm each day. Long days for little people but it did us all good to stray from the regimented routine of home life. We didn’t want to cook so thank goodness we’d taken tins of food easy enough to rustle up and they didn’t taste too bad either. Harriett took to eating a little later than usual.
Beech, with its comfortable surroundings and solitude, was a good resting place for us all to recuperate in readiness for another demanding day and we all enjoyed sharing our experiences each night at the dining table where Harriett would try her hardest to taste the wine! Heidi (six months) watched on from her highchair.
Folly Farm, about 20 minutes from base, was a child’s paradise and both Harriett and Heidi thoroughly enjoyed this attraction. I tried to show Harriett how a goat was milked but she seemed more interested in steering a tractor. There were some unusual animals here not least the Fossa, a bit like a cat which could eat lemurs if the mood took it. There are only 60 in the world. You can see it in action in the video at travelwriter.biz. Harriett found it very difficult to leave Folly Farm because of the John Deere pedal tractors and the enormous sandpit where there were various vehicles including her favourite Land Rover. Unfortunately, we didn’t get time to try our hand at operating a real digger.
The National Trust manages much of the Pembrokeshire coastline and at Bosherston we endured a gruelling walk with our pushchair to one of the best beaches in Wales (if not the UK) - at Stackpole. No matter how many bumps, rocks and steps the scenery was so picturesque and the effort was richly rewarded. On our way along narrow paths we passed an enormous pond of waterlilies home to frolicking otters and dancing dragon flies. In time we arrived at the beach for Harriett to build sandcastles and pour sand over her tired and unsuspecting daddy. She found this particularly amusing.
“Was Roald Dahl, the children’s author, Welsh?” questioned Caroline looking at Barafundle, the name of the last sandy beach we visited. He was born in Llandaff, Wales in 1916. You can see how such strange place names might have inspired his creation of hornswogglers, snozzwangers and Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For us Barafundle was the icing on the cake. We asked a National Trust volunteer whether it was possible to take a pushchair along the route to this beach and he reckoned it was despite there being about 50 steps. After the previous day’s experience we decided to ignore his judgement and thankfully so because it turned out to be an arduous trek up steep steps and across fields. He clearly had a sense of humour. Harriett walked and we took it turns to carry Heidi. It would have been impossible with our tandem buggy. Half an hour or so later we found ourselves entering a wonderfully sandy beach through an old stone archway and many more steps. Sitting in the shade of the cliff edge above, we avoided the heat of the day. It was common for the weather to be a bit dull in the mornings and then by 2pm or 3pm the sun would appear and the temperatures soared. Parents have little time to relax but Caroline and I probably grabbed five or ten minutes where we could just sit and savour the magnificent rugged coastline. The video of Barafundle at travelwriter.biz gives you a little flavour of what this beach is like. One of the most cherished memories of this holiday for me was paddling with Harriett here. Such carefree times. Unsurprisingly this marvellous landscape appealed to the likes of the artist JMW Turner. The Pembrokeshire coastline really was a joy to behold and truly uplifting.
It was now about 6pm and we really didn’t want to leave Pembroke. And so on our way back to Hampshire we decided to stop off at Colby Woodland Garden, the National Trust property, for a picnic in the grounds. From there we enjoyed an evening stroll to Amroth village, which itself was home to a beach but this time of pebbles, where Harriett enjoyed trying to find flat ones for skimming.
When travelling to Wales there was a great sense of being abroad thanks to the distinctive language and the Welsh were extremely friendly people, too.
A holiday of fabulous memories.

Diary 

Saturday
Port Talbot

Sunday
Saundersfoot

Monday
Folly Farm www.folly-farm.co.uk

Tuesday
Bosherston, Stackpole, National Trust http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole/

Wednesday
Barafundle, National trust http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stackpole/
Colby Woodland Garden, National Trust http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/colby-woodland-garden/

For further information visit:

Coastal Cottages of Pembroke www.coastalcottages.co.uk

 

Beech at West Grove Barns, Hundleton, Pembrokeshire
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