We returned to Pembrokeshire in mid October for our next walk from Freshwater East westwards to the National Trust site of Stackpole Quay.
Our accomodation was again Rosedene Guest House near Pembroke. It’s a really nice guest house set in a peaceful, rural location, an ideal base to explore this part of South Pembrokeshire. It’s an easy drive from here through country lanes to Freshwater East. We initially parked at the main pay and display car park opposite the beach but tipped off that parking is free nearby at The Longhouse club car park, drive the short distance and parked there. A good start to the day, we saved a fiver!
This coast walk starts at the narrow wood footbridge opposite the Trewent Holiday Park. The official coast path route runs behind the beach but it’s definitely worthwhile taking the opportunity of a stroll across Freshwater East beach, as the 1 km wide stretch of sands never fails to impress. The beach with a calm sea and the backdrop of sandstone cliffs under a clear blue sky, looks absolutely stunning.
On a visit to this beach we had seen a party of geology students studying the cliffs, taking notes and photographing rocks at the far end of the beach.
A closer look at the rocks at the end of the beach shows some interesting, colourful formations of old red sandstone which contrast starkly with lighter grey sandstone, rock pools and sand. Apparently this gets geology geeks excited, I’m just pleased with my photo.
To rejoin the official coast path, we cross the narrow wood footbridge and follow the track as it climbs a steep grassy hillside. When the path reaches a level area, there’s a great panoramic view from here of the natural half moon curve of the bay.
The path continues to climb towards the headland known as Trewent Point, and then heading westwards across undulating grassy cliff tops reaches Greenala Point. This was an Iron Age hillfort and it’s on rugged cliff top terrain. From this vantage point there are stunning wide clear views out to sea, of Stackpole Head in the distance, the coast path ahead and dramatic cliffs below.
From here the path becomes more challenging with a number of steep descents then climbs and twists, but the reward is fine views along the way of the rocky coastline on the south side and the countryside landscape on the north side.
Signs appear at intervals advising “keep to the path” and “cliffs kill”, and it’s when you look back at the coast line just walked you can appreciate the scale of the spectacular rugged cliffs and the steep drops.
The next series of photos were taken at various stages and highlight the changing landscape with dramatic steep limestone cliffs and even a cliff top collapsed cave, as the path meanders on the way to Stackpole Quay.
The path descends and passes near the Stackpole Estate holiday cottages and a rocky bay before climbing to the crest of a small hill with a view back to the coastline just walked.
Walking down steps on the other side you reach the natural sheltered and quaint harbour of Stackpole Quay which looks like it could once have been a smugglers cove
This is a National Trust site and there’s a small cafe, The Boathouse Tearoom. As it’s an isolated location it’s good to know there’s also a washroom facility here. The Boathouse is in a great location tucked in the shadow of a wooded glade, overlooking the tiny harbour. The concrete slipway leads to the National Trust car park, which is a good option for those that want to drive and park nearby to visit Stackpole Head and Barafundle Bay.
The Boathouse Tearoom is an ideal place to grab hot or cold drinks and snacks. It has outdoor tables and seating in a courtyard and in summer there are picnic tables on the hardstanding area overlooking the Quay.
It’s a perfect place to have a restbreak with some essentials; coffee, pot of tea and slices of cake, and time to check the guidebook.
A visit to Stackpole probably isn’t complete without continuing on to the nearby Barafundle Bay. It’s only accessable by foot and therefore a great “must do” walk. It’s just a 15 minute walk from Stackpole Quay, heading westwards from the path near the tea rooms up a flight of steps and then across the top of open fields to reach a stone wall archway. There is a super viewpoint to the left side of the archway, a stone ledge near the National Trust plaque gives a picture postcard view of this idyllic bay. A set of stone steps lead down the hillside from here to access the unspoilt sandy beach.
That’s as far as we go on the day and we retrace our steps back eastwards along the coast path returning to Trewent Park where we enjoyed a very nice lunch at The Longhouse Club.
This was an enjoyable walk and in parts a challenging hike with interesting changes in the landscape and geology of the coastline on this section. We have now covered 25 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, just another 161 miles to go !