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Cycling Pembrokeshire
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Cycling in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Cycling in PembrokeshireCycling in Pembrokeshire, on the far west coast of Wales, is like cycling in a dream. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has one of the most spectacular coastlines in Europe. An ancient and powerful landscape dotted with pre-historic standing stones, and steeped in Celtic and Arthurian legend.

Tantalising glimpses of the sea are revealed as you cycle along quiet lanes to picturesque fishing harbours, sandy beaches, and towering cliffs pounded by Atlantic breakers.

Cliffs of St Brides Bay

Photo: cliffs between St Davids & Solva in St. Bride's Bay.

Cycle inland from the coast and you fine a subtle landscape rich with rewards. Deviate off the obvious routes and you'll discover standing stones, pretty little churches, ancient woodlands, and quirky nooks and crannies.


St David's

St David's cathedralSt David's is the smallest 'city' in Britain, the size of a village. Built in the atmospheric Vale of Roses, its fantastic cathedral has a 15 foot drop from altar to west door, ruined  Bishop's palace, and plentiful watering holes.

Sustrans route 4 goes through St David's (warning: DON'T cycle through the ford - there's a big step either side). Bike ride Ideas.

Cathedral, St David's, Pembrokeshire

The Bishop's Palace, St David's, Pembrokeshire

Photos: Cathedral & ruins of the Bishop's Palace.


Solva Harbour

Knitted post in Solva harbourSolva is a picturesque fishing harbour in St Bride's Bay between Newgale beach and St David's. It's worth walking a bit for the best views - from the carpark: cross the footbridge and follow the paths up on to the headland, or walk along the right side of the harbour to the Cafe on the Quay, or up the path/steps behind that cafe to Upper Solva for wonderful views over the mouth of the harbour.

Watering holes: Lavendar cafe in Raul Speek's art gallery in main street, Cafe 35 in the carpark, Cafe on the Quay at the mouth of the harbour, or The Ship Inn.

Solva harbour

Solva harbour in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Solva harbour in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park


Hidden Art

On a walk in September 2015 we discovered these artworks hidden along a footpath in north Pembrokeshire...


Standing Stones

Pembrokeshire is littered with standing stones. Our favourite stones are by Tremaenhir farm (below left; east of Middle Mill; map ref: 827 263) and at the start of the lane down to Porthgain from Llanrhian (below right; map ref: 818 315). See The Blue Lagoon Bike Ride.

An aside: a few years ago whilst standing in front of the Tremaenhir stone, I (Rob) had a revelation about the story of King Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone being more metallurgical than mythological. This stone looks a little bit like a sword blade poking out of the ground. Could the story be about having the knowledge of extracting metal from stone and then shaping it into sword blades? This knowledge would certainly have made the beholder a very important person.

2 standing stones in Pembrokeshire


New Year's Eve on Whitesands Beach

Whitesands beach, Pembrokeshire 1

Whitesands Bay near St David's, Pembrokeshire


The Last Invasion of Britain

In February 1797 the Revolutionary French attempted an invasion of Britain. The idea was to land 2 ships to incite riots in Liverpool and Bristol while the main force landed in Ireland. Bad weather disrupted the plan. Only one ship managed to land - at Carregwastad, a secluded bay west of Fishguard. They  established their headquarters in a nearby farmhouse, little knowing that wine had been hidden there after a Portuguese shipwreck. Captain Tate soon lost control of his drunken convict crew and eventually surrendered. One story tells of the French surrendering to local women, mistaking their traditional tall black hats and red cloaks for the uniforms of the infantry.

Local women recently embroidered a wonderful 30 metre long tapestry of the invasion which is on display in Fishguard Library and well worth a visit.

Last invasion of Britain tapestry 1

Last invasion of Britain tapestry 2

The tapestry is displayed in Fishguard library (Town Hall, The Square, Fishguard. Phone: 01437 776638. fishguardlibrary@pembrokeshire.gov.uk), admission free. Well worth a visit.


The Preseli Hills and the Gwaun Valley

Pentre IfanThe blue stones capping the Stonehenge megaliths came from the Preseli Hills. These ancient hills were once part of a chain of mountains as high as the Himalayas stretching NE through Wales.

The Gwaun Valley (Cwm Gwaun in Welsh) runs down to the sea at Fishguard (Abergwaun). The hamlet of Pontfaen, halfway down the valley, never converted to the 'new' Gregorian calendar in 1752 so they still celebrate New Year on the 13 January according to the old Julian calendar.

Don't miss cycling to: Rosebush, Gors Fawr stone circle (SW of Mynachlog-ddu, map ref: 135 294), Pentre-Ifan neothithic burial chamber (above photo, map ref: 090 356), and The Dyffryn Arms (locally known as "Bessie's"), wonderfully old-fashioned pub in Pontfaen (no food but well-kept beer served through a hole in the wall - just don't ask for alcohol-free lager!). See our The Preseli Calendar Bike Ride.

BBC Countryfile's video of the Preseli Hills & Gwaun Valley...

A little look inside the wonderful Dyffryn Arms...


Shoulder Pads In Pembrokeshire Churches

As you go cycling around you might spot a feature in some Pembrokeshire churches that we’ve always called ‘shoulder pads’ (mainly because we could never remember the proper name). The correct term is hagioscope or squint - “a window set at an oblique angle in a church wall to permit people to see the altar from areas where it was not otherwise visible”. If you imagine the cruciform layout of a church as your body (with your torso being the nave, your head being the chancel where the altar is, and your out-stretched arms being the transepts), then the hagioscope between the transept and the chancel would be a bit like a 'shoulder pad' next to your ear. Keep that image in your mind...

Shoulder pads in Llanhowel church, Pembrokeshire

In Llanhowel church (near St Davids; map ref: SM 818 274) there is a rather fine walk-through ‘shoulder pad’ (photo above) on your right shoulder. In medieval times there was a small window in your right ‘armpit’ (left wall of the north transept) opposite the ‘shoulder pad’ so lepers (who weren’t allowed inside the church) could still see the altar from outside via the transept and the hagioscope, thereby taking part in the church service without having to enter the church.

In St. Ishmael’s church (near Dale; map ref: SM 830 066) your left arm has a ‘shoulder pad’. Apparently naughty nuns (what had they done?) who were confined to this transept (hidden from the congregation by a large curtain) could still see the altar through the ‘shoulder pad’.


Dated

How many dates do you really need on a chapel? Five apparently.

Dates on Llangloffan chapel


Picnic At Strumble Head

The bike ride out to Strumble Head lighthouse is well worth it. In the autumn this is one of the best places on the mainland from which to see Grey Atlantic Seals (in the coves either side of the lighthouse island). We'll put a cycling route up soon.

Cycling picnic lunch at Strumble Head lighthouse, Pembrokeshire


Sustrans Cycling Map

South West Wales Cycle Map - shows on-road and traffic-free paths, height contours, 5 town centre maps, recommended linking routes connecting the National Cycling Network with quiet roads. Includes the Celtic Trail (route 4), Lôn Teifi, and Millennium Coast Park (near Llanelli). 1:110,000 scale.


Continue Cycling...

A sideways glance at cycling in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Lost Lanes Wales: 36 glorious bike rides in Wales and the Welsh Borders
from Amazon
from Waterstones

Wales Trails: a journey around Wales by bike
from Amazon UK

South West Wales Cycle Map (National Cycle Network Route Maps)