Places of Interest

PORTHCLAIS is the small sheltered inlet port near St David’s, Britain’s smallest city, in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.The present Porthclais (also known as Porth Clais) harbour was built in the 12th century and served nearby St. Davids, importing coal and timber. The entire harbour is within the St. Davids Peninsula Site of Special Scientific Interest. Porthclais is still used as a small port by local fishermen and recreational sailors.
The old harbour wall, built by the Romans is largely intact. The harbour almost dries out at low tide and is a good launching spot for small boats, dive craft and kayaks which are setting out to explore St Bride’s Bay.

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The village of PORTHGAIN has a wealth of historical relics from its time as a prosperous industrial harbour in the early 1900s.
At one time, the harbour exported slate from quarries a few miles south at Abereiddy, Trwynllwyd and Porthgain itself. Abereiddy and the quarries to the South were linked by a tramway. Water-powered mills at Porthgain sawed the quarried slate slabs before shipment.
In later years the slate trade was abandoned, although Porthgain survived by turning to brick-making, and later to crushed roadstone. Large brick hoppers dominate the harbour. These hoppers were used to store crushed dolerite before shipment and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. In 1987 Porthgain was designated as a conservation area. Slate, from a local quarry, was handled through the harbour from 1850 to 1910. Bricks were made in the harbour area from 1889 to 1912 using waste from the slate operation. The crushed dolerite (1889 – 1931) was used as a road stone. It is said that the stone used to construct O’Connell Street in the heart of Dublin was shipped from here.

The harbour, still home to local fishermen, can get very busy in the summer with recreational boaters. Other attractions and conveniences include the Pembrokeshire Coast Path rambling up both sides of the harbour, the ‘Strumble Shuttle’ bus, a pub, which used to be called the ‘Step Inn’ when boats were able to dock beside the pub and the crews could step in. Porthgain also has two art galleries and a small bistro situated by the quay and which is located in the manager’s office of the old brick works.

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NEWGALE (Welsh: Niwgwl) is a village with a three mile stretch of beach in the parish of Roch, Pembrokeshire, West Wales. The beach is situated in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and has rugged coastal scenery with the path winding up and down the cliffs.

Newgale is one of over 40 Welsh ‘Blue Flag’ beaches, which means it has the top certification for quality, cleanliness and facilities.
The beach is backed by a large pebble (shingle) wall or storm beach as defence against the high tides. The current shingle bank was created in the 1880s by a storm and high tides. Before that there was a field’s width of land before an older shingle bank and the sea and at least one house on the land. The building of the current road and bridge is commemorated on the footpath side of the bridge by the cafe. After winter storms and at very low tide the remains of a submerged forest can be seen in the sand, as at Whitesands.
Newgale is popular with holiday makers, windsurfers, surfers and canoeists throughout the summer months.

There are two caravan parks, a camping site, some shops and a pub. The surf at Newgale is good for beginners, with the waves usually backing off a bit even on large swell. Surfing is best on the rising tide.

The beach is a favourite place for the local people, who promenade on Boxing Day every year.

Many campers on lower ground experience flooding during rain in the summer months.

Newgale marks the boundary between English and Welsh-speaking Pembrokeshire, with the next beach north of Newgale being called Pen-y-Cwm.
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WHITESANDS BAY (Welsh: Traeth Porth Mawr), shown as Whitesand Bay on some maps, is an European  award-winning, Blue Flag standard, wide sandy beach situated on the St David’s Peninsula in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, United Kingdom. The beach is located about two miles west of the small city of St. Davids and about one mile south of St Davids Head and has been described as the best surfing beach in Pembrokeshire and one of the best tourist beaches in the world.

The area to the north east of the bay is dominated by a large rocky outcrop, 594 feet (181 m) at its highest point, known as Carn Llidi which could mean “Cairn of the Gates” or “Cairn of Wrath”. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path passes alongside the bay, giving access in the north to the secluded bays of Porthlleuog and Porthmelgan (which are only accessible on foot), and the rugged coastal scenery of St Davids Head. To the south, the coastal path leads to Porthselau and St. Justinian’s, with views across the Ramsey Sound to Ramsey Island. There are a number of megalithic burial chambers, stone hut circles and British Iron Age field systems and enclosures to be seen in the vicinity of Carn Llidi and St Davids Head.

It is said that St. Patrick (born in Pembrokeshire and taken to Ireland as a child slave, from where he eventually escaped) had his vision to convert Ireland to Christianity here and set sail from the bay in the fifth century. The site of a Celtic chapel, dedicated to St Patrick, is located under a mound by the car park just to the east of the bay, at what is thought to have been the embarkation point for pilgrims to St Davids Cathedral. At very low tide and after heavy storms the remains of an ancient, submerged forest can be seen on the beach, consisting of stumps of birch, fir, hazel and oak trees. The remains of animals have been found in these deposits including parts of an aurochs, a red deer antler and a brown bear jaw.
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SOLVA  lies on the north side of St Bride’s Bay, in North Pembrokeshire in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path It lies on a deep ravine, a drowned glacial valley, at the mouth of the River Solva. In the ravine is Lower Solva, consisting of a long street ending at the small harbour. Most of the modern development has been in Upper Solva, on the cliff top to the west of the harbour.
The rocks at the entrance to Solva Harbour made it one of the most sheltered anchorages between Fishguard and Milford Haven. Solva became the main trading centre of St Bride’s Bay in the medieval period, and was important for lime burning – to help improve the agricultural land.  Several lime kilns are preserved in the harbour area. In the 19th century, Solva had around 30 registered trading ships. The fading coastal trade has been replaced by tourism, and the harbour is now a popular boating centre.
The Woollen Mill is the oldest continuously working woollen mill in Pembrokeshire. Tom Griffiths erected it in 1907, powered by a 10 foot, overshot water-wheel which was restored in 2007. Over the years, machinery was installed to undertake the complete process of converting fleeces into fabric. Today the mill mostly manufactures carpets and rugs.

The spectacular local cliff coast is popular with walkers, and the classic cliff exposures of Cambrian rocks attract amateur and professional geologists.
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Some 2 miles to the north west of St Davids City is the small inlet of ST JUSTINIAN’S.

Originally the site of St. Justinian’s Chapel which is now a ruin and still visible on the approach from the car park above the inlet. The ruins are what is left of a medieval chapel, where legend has it that St Justinian’s remains were once buried.

St Justinian’s is better known today as the site of the lifeboat station for this part of Pembrokeshire. The lifeboat station operates two boats and covers an area of some 550 square miles from Abermawr to the north down to Skomer Island in the south. Currently (2015) a new lifeboat station is being built east of the current one which means that the coast path takes a small detour around the works site.

Lifeboat launching from St Justinian’s station and demonstrations are given during the summer months.

St Justinian’s is a popular destination during the summer with visitors coming to see both the the Chapel and the lifeboat station and many also come to take a cruise around or out to Ramsey Island which can be seen in the distance. The island is now owned and managed by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and is a nature reserve.

Titabl energy –  a new project to harness energy of the moving tide (currents) in Ramsey Sound is being carried out – read more here.

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ABERCASTLE (Welsh: Abercastell) is a village in the Welsh language speaking area of Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales. Abercastle has a working harbour which is managed by Abercastle Boat Owners Association.
Abercastle is an old trading harbour which exported local slate and grain, limestone, butter, honey, corn, and some coal. There are also the remains of nineteenth century limekilns.

The harbour was the landing site of the first single handed Atlantic sailing west to east in 1876 starting from Gloucester, Massachusetts by the Danish born fisherman, Alfred “Centennial” Johnson.
Alfred Johnson landed at Abercastle on Saturday, August 12, 1876 after sixty six days sailing from Gloucester Massachusetts, becoming the first person to make the single-handed Atlantic crossing. Johnson, a Danish born fisherman used a small dory named ‘Centennial’, managed an average pace of about 70 miles (110 km) a day, quite respectable for such a small boat in the open sea, and survived a gale which capsized the boat.
A plaque made of Welsh Slate is located on the quay wall near the slipway and was unveiled by Alfred Johnson’s grandson, Charlie Dickman on October 17, 2003.
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St NONS Chapel marks the birthplace of St David. It is now a ruin which cannot be accurately dated but is unusual in that it is aligned north-south rather than the usual east-west. Near to the ruined chapel is a retreat, a modern chapel and a holy well. The site was protected in the 1950s and is now the responsibility of the Welsh Heritage organisation Cadw. Click here for more information.

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£200 Winning Photograph
by Mohamed from Neyland.