Since starting out on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Amroth, experiencing the magnificent scenery along every section of the South Pembrokeshire coastline had become the norm.
In the maritime heyday of tall sailing ships the natural deep waterway of Milford Haven was renowned for its scenic beauty and famously described by Lord Nelson as the ‘greatest natural harbour in the world’. However this safe waterway with superb accessibility for ships meant the 20th century and the age of the ‘super tanker’ brought a great deal of modern industrialisation and development of oil refineries, gas terminals and power stations which now dominate parts of this area on both sides of the Haven.
Unfortunately such development has scarred parts of the natural environment and some walking guidebooks even suggest to those not concerned with completing the whole coast path route to consider skipping these sections alongside the Haven waterway.
But for us it’s all part of completing the trail and experiencing both the natural and built environment so we’ll be walking around the Milford Haven waterway in 4 stages. So walk 12 is the first stage, a circular walk starting from the eastern banks of Angle Bay following the coast path as far as Pwllcrochan Church and returning via countryside lanes.
Starting out from Angle Bay the path joins an access road and passes by a huge oil refinery facility which dominates the landscape and dwarfs some old farmhouses which lie in its shadow.
The path trails around the edge of fields, as ahead the substantial walls of a Palmerston era military fort come into view. Popton Fort was constructed between 1859 – 1864 and holds an imposing position overlooking the estuary.
Popton Fort is now owned by an oil refinery company and the site is off limits with visible high security. The coast path leads inland around the boundary of the site then across fields. It’s a surprisingly pleasant countryside walk through an ancient woodland with some old ivy covered ruins and masses of bluebells, wildflowers and butterflies above a small inlet known as Bulwell Bay. It was idyllic and for a time it was possible to forget there was any heavy industry nearby.
Walking uphill and across farm fields provides views across the Haven shipping lanes before the path heads inland through countryside eventually reaching the picturesque St. Mary’s Church at Pwllcrochan.
This beautiful church dates from 1342 in this tranquil setting and was once at the heart of a thriving rural community. The village perhaps understandably has long been abandoned and left in ruins due to being in the shadow of the massive oil industry in recent decades. As a result the church has been closed for many years and is now managed by the neighbouring oil company. They have made efforts to preserve the church as an education centre and there’s a nature conservation area with boardwalks across marshland which is accessed from the churchyard, a little haven for wildlife.
The return walk from here followed the road up to Wallaston Cross and then along country lanes and some wonderful Pembrokeshire farm land eventually leading back down to Angle Bay.
This circular short walk of just under 7 miles completes the section of coast path which is within the National Park in South Pembrokeshire. This brings the distance we have covered on the Pembrokeshire coast Path to 49 miles.
Join us again as we continue our next coast path journey with walk 13.