A holiday in Wales with our friends Yvey & Matt has become an annual tradition following Pembrokeshire in 2020, Anglesey in 2021 and now Pembrokeshire again in 2022. But this time the group expanded with a total of 11 people and 7 dogs!
With endless exciting and different places in the world I (Laura) am not usually too keen on visiting the same place too often so to make it a bit different I topped and tailed this holiday with side trips to the Gower Peninsular on the way and on the way back.
This, combined with visits to new beaches, a new island and a new activity (coasteering); staying in a different part of Pembrokeshire and spending the week with a new group with new dynamics ensured a different experience. And the weather was a huge bonus… with the exception of one overcast day, we were extremely lucky to have had perfect weather every day.
Day 1: Three Cliffs Bay in Gower, Saundersfoot and Narberth.
Day 2: Marloes Sands and Dale
Day 3: Coasteering in Tenby
Day 4: Tenby
Day 5: Trip to Skomer Island
Day 6: Bosherston, Broadhaven South and St Govans Chapel
Day 7: Monkstone and Pendine
Day 8: Saundersfoot, Rhossili Bay in Gower and Swansea
Day 9: drive home from Swansea
Day 1: Gower, Saundersfoot and Narberth
Following our Gower detour our first port of call in Pembrokeshire was Saundersfoot. We had driven from Three Cliffs Bay and arrived at around 2 pm on a warm Saturday afternoon where this small picturesque town was in full swing. With an adjacent car park, ice creams and shops the beach was packed.
Saundersfoot is a small holiday resort and the little sister of its larger and better known neighbour, Tenby. There are a couple of car parks and despite being busy we were fortunate to find a space to park in the main car park next to the marina. We enjoyed a refreshing drink in the Harbwr bar (above) which is located just off the sea front along a colourful street.
Our holiday house was located in Narberth in the south of Pembrokeshire, about 10 miles north from Tenby and Saundersfoot. Narberth is a small market town with a selection of quirky shops, pubs and restaurants.
Having met earlier in the holiday house when it became available at 4 pm we had booked a table at the Peppercorn in Narberth for our first evening together. We were able to walk (uphill) for about 10 minutes into the heart of Narberth.
Narberth was surprisingly lively in the evenings and some of the pubs had live bands throughout the week. This one was playing on the Saturday evening in the garden of the Dragon Inn pub.
Day 2: Marloes Sands and Dale
As the weather forecast was 26 degrees our group of 11 decided to drive to Marloes Sands on the Sunday. Having been there two years ago, unlike Saundersfoot we felt this remote and spectacular beach wouldn’t be too busy. Our assumption was correct… out-of-the-way beaches which involve a bit of effort to get to are usually far less crowded.
We found plenty of parking spaces in the National Trust car park at Marloes Sands. There is also a handy little cafe on the track which leads to the beach which sells cold drinks and ice creams. Walking from the car park to the top of the cliffs and down to the beach takes about 15 minutes. This would be termed a ‘moderate’ walk due to it being an uneven downhill track so wouldn’t be suitable for the less mobile.
Previously during our late September 2020 visit only Chris and Steve ventured into the sea. This time the weather was hot and we all took a swim in the clear and calm sea which was perfect with soft, gentle shelving sand. We had a fantastic time with our picnic, swimming, frisbee playing and chatting while relaxing on the beach.
It is helpful to check the tide before visiting a Pembrokeshire beach as they can vary widely! Within a couple of hours the wide expanse of sand had reduced to a narrow strip and we had to move our stuff to the back of the beach! Parts of it become inaccessible making it now impossible to walk along the width of the beach.
Leaving the beach was also a bit tricky… the tide had come in so far we had to scramble around the rocks at the edge of the sea in order to get to the steps and path up the cliffs. Holding our bags up out of the way of the sea, carrying the 7 dogs and stepping on the slippery rocks, guess who managed to fall in? Yep… me… and I didn’t even have a dog to carry!
During the middle of the afternoon we had left Marloes Sands and drove the short distance to Dale where we found a bar to finish off the day with a cold and refreshing drink. The above picture was taken on our last visit however this time, being a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon the beach was packed and full of paddle boarders.
Tonight we stayed in the holiday house and most of us got a different takeaway (according to what we fancied, this ranged between us from Indian, Chinese and pizza) from Narberth.
Day 3: Tenby Coasteering and Day 4: Tenby
There is a separate ‘Tenby‘ blog post which covers days 3 and 4.
Day 5: Skomer Island
This is also covered in a separate Skomer Island post.
Day 6: Bosherston and Broadhaven South
Broadhaven South is one of the top beaches in Pembrokeshire and as such was worth a second visit! That morning we had said goodbye to Ray, Laura and their dog Flokie, who had stayed with us for 5 days and now our group was reduced to 9 persons and 6 dogs!
As we had done 2 years ago, again we parked in the National Trust car park at Bosherston and again it was busy and we were lucky to find three spaces for the three cars we had arrived in.
We walked for the mile or so through the delightful and extensive lily ponds until we reached Broadhaven South beach.
The tide was far out and the beach was even more expansive than it was on our previous visit!
As the tide was low on this visit we could see exposed caves that we hadn’t noticed before.
We wandered over to explore, had a look inside the cave and found pink mineral deposits!
It felt like being inside a giant throat!
Once we left Broadhaven South and walked back through Bosherston lily ponds it was now pub time! Following a drink in St Govans Inn we drove across to St Govan’s chapel again. By now it was past 4:30 pm which meant we could access via the Ministry of Defence Castlemartin range which was now open.
Day 7: Monkstone and Pendine
Keen to find somewhere new I did some research and found an excellent website called the Beach Guide which gives information about all of the beaches in the UK. If you have your mobile location active, you can find local beaches.
Monkstone beach had good reviews and was about 7 miles from Narberth so we decided to go and explore. The information in the website informed us that a half mile walk with 151 steps is necessary in order to get down to the beach. The first part was straightforward, we walked past Trevayne Farm and Camping & Caravan park and across the meadow above.
At the end of the meadow we came to an intersection of 4 paths! A perplexed looking couple approached from the path in front and advised not to take that one as they hadn’t found the beach. We look the left path…
This started to descend to what we assumed to be the beach but we ended up walking for about 20 minutes around a dense path around the headland and then back up to the intersection again… We found the correct path as you approach from the meadow was ahead but slightly to the right (not the coast path on the immediate right) where you immediately see the 151 steps directly down to the beach.
The beach with its soft golden sand was spectacular and well worth the effort to get there.
We could see Tenby in the distance.
This was a dog friendly beach and the 6 pooches we had with us enjoyed running around the almost empty sands.
At both sides of the beach were rock pools and rock formations.
After a short time on Monkstone beach we made our way back up the steps and to the car. Trevayne Farm and Campsite has a small shop where it was handy to pick up a cold drink on the way past.
Onto Pendine Sands…
We left Pembrokeshire and entered Carmarthenshire where Pendine Sands is located. By now our group had dispersed and Jon, Cindy & Russ were doing their thing, Yvey and Kay Marie had gone horse riding and this left Chris, Matt, Dave and me.
Located on the northern edge of Carmarthen Bay, Pendine Sands is the famous setting for world land speed records set in the 1920’s. The 4 of us had a drink in a pub overlooking this vast stretch of beach.
Once refreshed, we walked onto the beach and headed to the right past the headland. Yvey and Kay Marie were to be riding their horses along this part of the beach and we were planning to go and watch them.
This section was more rocky!
The wet sand resulted in some great reflection pictures!
Many of the beaches in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire are dog friendly although sometimes this means they are only permitted on a certain section of the beach. At Pendine Sands, this is the to the right of the huge beach as you face the sea.
We finally saw Yvey and Kay Marie as they entered the beach for their ride through the surf. They booked their horse riding at nearby Marros Horse Riding Centre.
We finished our holiday with a final evening meal in the Angel pub again. We had all enjoyed our visit earlier in the week and it’s large terrace easily accommodated the 9 of us and 6 dogs without the need to book.
Day 8: Saundersfoot, Rhossili Bay and Swansea
It was Saturday morning and time to leave the holiday house. We were now down to 7 as Yvey, Matt, Russ, Cindy, Jon, Chris and me met up for a final goodbye rendezvous in Saundersfoot. Another lovely warm day and we all parked up and met with the idea of brunch in a coffee shop, perhaps with a full Welsh breakfast to tide us over for our onward journeys.
This didn’t quite happen… many of the cafe’s were shut due to staff shortages! And those that were open were full… eventually we all popped into Tesco, brought a meal deal and sat on benches on the seafront to eat it.
We said goodbye to the others and Chris and I drove to Rhossili Bay, back in Gower for the final section of our trip.
We stayed in a large purpose built holiday house which was about 10 minutes walk from the pubs and restaurants of Narberth. Other than one or two of the showers (not ours) being a bit dodgy and there being one fairly small area for the sink/dishwasher/washing machine this was ideal for us. There was plenty of space and we were able to park our 6 cars outside and with no shunting around when taking different cars out for the day.
There was 7 bedrooms in total and 6 of them had en-suites. Chris and I had one of three en-suites on the first floor which was fairly big and spacious. The three couples with the 7 dogs between them all had bedrooms on the ground floor!
Just outside of the double doors of the kitchen was a gravel patio area with two large picnic benches which could comfortably seat all of us at the same time. Next to this was an enclosed wooded ‘copse’ area which was ideal for the dogs.
This is just over half of the lounge with more sofas behind where I was standing to take the photo! There is plenty of space in there for a house full of 16 people although as the weather was so good we spent most of the time outside on the patio.
As already alluded to, I get a huge buzz of excitement at the prospect of visiting somewhere new. However on reflection, different holidays are about different things and not necessarily travelling to new places. We had so much fun and so many laughs it reminded me that this kind of holiday is as much about sharing good times with friends as about exploring new places…