Croseo Cynnes Cymreig! - A Warm Welsh Welcome to St. David's Peninsula
St. David’s is Britain’s smallest city. It is a city only because it has a rather splendid cathedral, but it has absolutely nothing else in common with any other city that you might ever have visited. A cheerful collection of independent little shops and businesses cluster around St. David’s High Street and a quiet road leads you down to Caerfai – a small sandy beach perfect for swimming, paddling and relaxing. What a lovely place to live?!
The “city” also makes the perfect base for spending a few days exploring St. David’s Peninsula – a stunning part of the North Pembrokeshire Coast. Pembrokeshire is Britain’s only coastal national park.
We chose to stay at Twr y Felin – an award winning luxury hotel a short walk from the centre of St. David’s. The choice of hotel really helped to make this one of the most enjoyable trips we have taken in the UK – check out my Accommodation Review for more details. What also helped was that we had timed our trip to take maximum advantage of some gorgeous sunny weather. It was so warm, in fact, that – for the first time ever – the Met Office issued an amber extreme heat warning covering a large part of Wales. Not to be deterred, we armed ourselves with large quantities of water and embarked on two full days hiking St. David’s Peninsula. Continure reading for our two day hiking itinerary.
Exploring St. David's - Britain's Smallest City
It doesn’t take very long to walk around St. David’s itself, but there is a lot of history to discover here and you could easily spend half a day exploring the Cathedral itself, nearby Bishop’s Palace, Cathedral Close and the numerous other historic sites around the city. Personally, I prefer hiking!
St. David's Cathedral
Itinerary for Two Days Hiking St. David's Peninsula
Day 1 – An 11.3 mile circular walk from St. David’s via the atmospheric St. Non’s Chapel, past pretty Porthclais Harbour with a stop for refreshments at St. Justinians before returning to St. David’s via the stunning Blue Flag beach of Whitesands Bay. Read more for further details of what this hike has to offer.
Day 2 – A 9.4 mile walk from the picturesque fishing village of Porthgain past Traethllyfn Beach, the Blue Lagoon and Abereiddy Bay around the wilderness of St. David’s Head and descending to the Hidden Gem of Porthmelgan for a cooling dip in the sea before returning to St. David’s via Whitesands Beach. Read more to see what we discovered on this spectacular hike.
The wonderful sunny weather brought out the marine blues and greens beautifully. It reminded me of the depth of colour we enjoyed in Australia at Rottnest Island – only you don’t have the hellishly long flight to get there or have to be wary of poisonous snakes or other nasties either.
Flora and Fauna
Thanks to the nutrient rich waters that flow from the Caribbean via the Gulf Stream, much of the Pembrokeshire Coast and its six offshore islands are designated as a Marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC). If you are lucky, you may spot Pembrokeshire’s “Big Five” during your hike. Listen out for the screams of circling gulls to pinpoint where sightings of harbour porpoises, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and minke whales might be possible.
Easier to spot – but in my view no less rewarding – are the more ubiquitous seals and puffins. Take a boat trip to the islands to get the best views. Trips can be booked at a number of places in St. David’s – but you may want to book ahead to be sure of a space. We didn’t do this, so I will just have to come back next May/June – the end of July is getting a bit late for the best viewing experience anyway. Book your boat trip at Thousand Islands Expeditions or Voyages of Discovery
The “city” maybe small, but good coffee shops, ice creams and pubs are all easy to find. On my wish list for my return visit here is a beach foraging trip with The Really Wild Emporium on St. David’s High Street. This restaurant specialises in using wild plants and marine algae from Pembrokeshire. Open for lunch daily, dinner at weekends.
A little further afield is the equally intriguing is The Grub Kitchen – the UK’s first edible insect restaurant. My wish list for the return trip is growing …
Tips for Future Travellers
The friendly and efficient Pembrokeshire Coastal Bus Service makes planning a walking trip to the St. David’s Peninsula a breeze. The walk back up the road from Whitesands Beach to St. David’s is short, but very steep – not really what you want at the end of a long hike! Save your legs and savour an ice cream on the beach instead and take the Celtic Coaster back. At the time of writing, buses run from the stop at the back of the car park on Whitesands Beach to St. David’s at 5 past and 35 minutes past the hour all day between 8.35 am and 18.35 pm. Well worth the £1.50 adult fare! Do check the timetables if you are travelling outside the Summer season.
Pack some coins in your rucksack – you will need it if you take the bus and the public toilets at Whitesands Beach are not free (cost 40p at the time of writing).
Glad I Packed
Sunhat, sunscreen, binoculars, swimsuit and LOTS of water!
Wish I Had Seen
A puffin – but it is always good to and a trip wanting to come back?