This next walk on the Pembrokeshire Coast from Pembroke to Milford Haven, was completed in 2 stages. The first stage a ‘bridge to bridge ‘ 4 mile walk from Pembroke’s Mill Bridge, through Pembroke Dock to the modern Cleddau Bridge, followed by an 8 mile afternoon ramble continuing to Milford Haven.
With a start point in Pembroke town it is worthwhile, especially if staying locally, to take the opportunity to walk the Town Trail which highlights points of interest and history of the town.
We set off from where Walk 13 ended at the Mill Bridge, taking the path around the scenic millponds, with a grand view of Pembroke Castle, a favourite vantage point for artists through the ages.
The path then goes through a modern housing development and then a winding track through a pleasant woodland. At the end of the woods is a muddy stream where some deft footwork is required across stepping stones before steps lead into fields.
Reaching Pembroke Dock it’s a walk through residential streets, before passing by the substantial walls of the former Royal Naval Dockyard and reaching the waterfront.
Here is another of the interesting coastal defences dotted along the Milford Haven waterway, a Martello Gun Tower. These were built in the mid 19th Century in response to a supposed threat of invasion by the French but now are historical relics giving a glimpse into Britains military past.
Once past the waterfront, unfortunately the route is the most uninteresting in Pembrokeshire, a mile or so along urban roads and residential streets until reaching the Cleddau Bridge.
It’s not everyday you get the chance to walk 800 metres across a modern high span bridge and it was a very blustery experience, on a cold overcast grey day which obscured the views down the Cleddau estuary.
After crossing the bridge, instead of carrying on the coast path route we took a detour, turning right down the lane leading to Burton Ferry near the Jolly Sailor pub.
Burton Ferry is an historical crossing point on the Cleddau and there remains an unusual Victorian era Trinity House timber jetty. The jetty served as the storage and supply depot for many lighthouses along the Welsh coast and is now a listed historic structure.
After this detour we returned to the main road to continue on the coast path route to Milford Haven. We crossed another bridge with views over Neyland marina.
The path leads downwards across wooded slopes with a bit of a view across to the Cleddau Bridge.
Reaching Neyland there’s a pleasant park at Brunel Quay overlooking a waterfront. There’s a statue here of Isambard Kingdom Brunel the famous engineer who brought the Great Western Railway to Pembrokeshire which led to the rapid development of Neyland in the 1850’s.
The path out of Neyland runs alongside the shoreline of the tidal estuary, though at low tide with mud banks it wasn’t the most appealing scenery on such a grey overcast day.
But we were soon heading along country lanes at Llanstadwell, lined with quaint, character cottages and an old church, until reaching Hazelbeach and the The Ferry House Inn . This ‘walkers welcome’ pub is ideally situated right on the coast path route and perfect for a lunch break, with riverside views of the Cleddau waterway.
As this was about the halfway point on this walk, we enjoyed a decent lunch and a pint at the Ferry House Inn before heading on, soon walking in the countryside around the boundary fences of the liquid gas industrial sites.
There are some huge wind turbines and you actually walk quite near and experience the sounds of the rhythmic hum and swoosh of the rotating blades as you pass by. Also on this stretch are 2 steel walkways which cross over pipelines leading from jetties. Although considered quite ugly ‘blots on the landscape’ the contrasts of red metal and steel chainlink against the background of landscape and grey skies made for an interesting ‘leading lines’ photograph.
At times it seems that industry looms large but there are also sections where you barely notice it’s presence as the path leads across countryside fields and sheltered woodland which provide some effective screening. A look across to the opposite side of the waterway, with recognisable features from our previous walk, provided a sense of satisfaction and spring in the step knowing we had walked that entire stretch of the countryside in our sights.
We walked across fields to Venn Farm and then followed an alternative route for the Pembrokeshire coast national trail to a gated lane where an adjacent field contained an eco camp site and another an apiary of beehives.
As we reached the river inlet at Castle Pill, we lost sight of a clear pathway as the area was very overgrown. Just as we were wondering about the line of the path, a gent from a nearby cottage shouted over to us ‘are you looking for the path?’ He directed us through a small gap in overgrowth to which our initial response was “we have to walk through there!” as it looked impassable. But he gave some good advice that once through the overgrowth the path would open up, but we should then climb onto a narrow strip of high riverbank and walk above the path towards the Black Bridge. We soon found he had given us very sound advice as the path below was a flooded bog and impossible to walk along. So we were very thankful for the local’s helpful advice.
From Black Bridge we walked uphill along a notorious stretch of highway with cars hurtling past at speed then crossed to the other side of Castle Pill and were soon heading into Milford Haven along the promenade known as The Rath.
It’s a nice welcome point to the town with green open space, landscaped gardens with views overlooking the waterway.
There’s a prominent bronze statue of a fisherman hauling in a net, in honour of the trawler men of the town when this was a major fishing port, engraved with “Thanks to them Milford Haven flourished”.
Milford Haven has an interesting history. In 1792 the first of seven Quaker families, whalers from Nantucket fleeing from the American War of Independence, were encouraged to settle in the area by Sir William Hamilton, who was granted permission in 1790 to develop a new town. They established a whale oil industry in the new harbour, supplying the City of London with oil for street lamps in the 19th Century.
We took a stroll along Hamilton Terrace down to the marina and ended this walk at a waterfront cafe. A benefit of finishing a walk at a town is the availability of bus services, so we were able to jump on a bus for the return to Pembroke.
After originally having doubts about walking each side of the Milford Haven waterway due to the generally unfavourable reviews in some guides, we are glad we went ahead and walked the whole stretch, experiencing a different side of Pembrokeshire. Even though some parts are heavily industrialised, it can seem at times like a walk through countryside as the industry is well screened by clever positioning of the path trail.
Map of stage 2 showing 8 mile route from Cleddau Bridge to Milford Haven Marina.
The last two walks though outside of the National Park area, had interesting aspects of nature, industry and history along the way. This walk of 2 parts about 12 miles distance brings our total now completed on Pembrokeshire’s Coast Path trail to 68 miles. Only 118 miles to go!
One thought on “Pembrokeshire Coast ~ Walk 14. Pembroke to Milford Haven”
Another interesting walk with the added bonus of great historical facts along the way.
The picture of the steel bridge was fascinating. Nice shot of Brunel`s statue. He apparently did a lot in Wales if you look him up on the internet. The railway bridge in Chepstow is one of his.
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