A great coast that not only offers sightseeing along the beach, but also on the skies
The magnificent Pembrokeshire Coast in south-western Wales affords some of the best coastline in the UK. This 186-mile (nearly 300-kilometre) stretch from St Dogmael’s Abbey in the north to Amroth in the south boasts over 50 sandy beaches (many of them Blue Flag), dramatic headlands, towering cliffs, ancient woodland and hidden valleys to explore alongside ancient castles and historic standing stones, and is even home to the source of the Stonehenge stones, in the Preseli Hills.
There are a considerable number of cultural and food & drink options: the Pembrokeshire Coast is home to the UK’s smallest city – St Davids (housing Wales’ only cathedral library, containing manuscripts dating back to the 16th century); the recently opened Annwn Restaurant – a 12-seat restaurant by the renowned Pembrokeshire forager and chef Matt Powell, set in an old potting shed and serving up seasonal 10-course tasting menus with seriously low food miles, based at the idyllic Little Retreat glamping resort overlooking the Cleddau Estuary; the recently revamped Milford Waterfront boasting new cafés, eateries and shops; and the exciting Tŷ Milford Waterfront Hotel, a 100-bedroom waterside development, which opened last summer.
The Pembrokeshire Coast is an adventure and nature lover’s paradise; it is where the exhilarating sport of coasteering was founded – surfers came up with the sport as they scrambled around cliffs in the early ’80s, and it’s now a popular activity combining rock hopping, shore scrambling, swell riding, cave exploring and cliff jumping – exploring the incredible coastline at close quarters. The coast is renowned for its seal-watching and bird-watching opportunities, including Skomer Island’s puffins and migrating seabirds, the RSPB Reserve of Ramsey Island, and the remote beaches of north Pembrokeshire where hundreds of Atlantic Grey seals give birth to pups in the autumn time.
The UK has some of the largest areas of dark sky in Europe, and Pembrokeshire is among the UK’s best destinations to appreciate one of nature’s most amazing spectacles. If you are looking to witness this phenomenon, January through to March can be the best time, and because Pembrokeshire does not have a great deal of light pollution, you can see more than a thousand stars on any given clear night.
Venus and Mars on the western horizon at sunset and Jupiter shining in the eastern sky are just some of the remarkable sights you can witness, and if lucky, sometimes you can spot the Big Dipper and Orion. You can even view the Milky Way, stretching across the sky at Broadhaven South – one of Pembrokeshire’s designated Dark Sky areas. Located around a 30-minute drive from Broadhaven South, Bluestone, a national park resort, provides the perfect spot. As the sun goes down, grab a blanket and get comfy on your own private patio and wonder at the sky lighting up.
Besides Broadhaven South, Pembrokeshire’s rugged coastline provides some of the best dark sky opportunities. The UK Dark Sky Discovery Partnership, Pembrokeshire Coast Dark Skies has approved eight Dark Sky Discovery Sites, which provide the best opportunities to view.
Where to stay
Manor Town House: The Grade-2-listed Georgian Manor Town House in the charming seaside market town of Garn Fawr, Fishguard (Abergwaun in Welsh), one of the designated areas, has six stunning rooms. The pretty garden terrace commanding beautiful views across Fishguard Bay provides you with a front seat to view the dramatic night sky.
Musselwick Farm: This 232-acre holding on the beautiful Marloes and St Brides peninsula is a collection of restored cottages and farm buildings. An ideal base for groups of enthusiastic astronomers or extended families looking for a winter break with a difference, Musselwick is just a short walk from Kete Martin’s Haven, Milford Haven (Aberdaugleddau in Welsh; another Pembrokeshire destination rated for its top-notch stargazing).
Tŷ Milford Waterfront: A stylish hotel on the Milford Marina which enjoys beautiful views of the Milford Haven Waterway. Not only does the hotel offer spectacular sunsets, but a night in one of the funky Floatel rooms that float among the boats moored at Milford Marina provides an ever- changing star-lit panoramic view. A unique night under a blanket of stars!
Little Retreats: If you are looking to tie in some stargazing with a relaxing mindfulness break, Little Retreats has created a Micro Retreat this winter. Experiences include a pre-light hot tub on arrival – ideal for soaking and relaxing whilst looking up at the dark skies; a stretch and unwind workshop with a well-being coach and advanced personal trainer to help you unwind the body and quieten the mind.
You can also receive a well-being guide to Pembrokeshire, which is full of tips on places to explore to reset the body and mind; a map of local walks, allowing you to explore the ancient magical woodlands of Lawrenny; and a self-care goodie bag full of lovely products to enjoy.
The beauty of Pembrokeshire is wherever you are, you’re not far away from one of the eight designated dark sky night sights and some of them even offer special dark sky events to give you a deeper insight into the world of stargazing. Pembrokeshire offers both budding and seasoned astronomers alike an extensive selection of varied landscaped areas and accommodation options.