Walk 16 starts on the western side of Sandy Haven, our previous walk having reached the eastern side of this tidal inlet.
There’s very limited parking on this side of the Haven, a layby on the country lane near Skerryback Farm provides a safe space only a short distance uphill from the lane which leads down to the inlet. A short stroll down the lane past some quaint mariners cottages leads onto a stony algae covered surface. Don’t be tempted to park a vehicle on the stony ground at low tide. In the recent past some unsuspecting day visitors have parked here only to find when returning their car submerged by a fast incoming tide.
With the water at low tide the crossing point connecting both banks is accessible and it’s also a popular spot for families with kids to dip crabbing lines in rock pools.
After a look around the Haven, we returned up the lane and followed the coast path signposts to a set of steps leading up through woodland. It was a pleasant walk along the top of the tree lined slopes above the waterway and then along the edge of farm fields.
As the path opens up along low cliff tops, it’s welcome that the industry seen on the previous walks is now behind us as more familiar Pembrokeshire coastal scenery comes into view above the secluded cove, known as ‘Sleeping Bay’.
The path drops and climbs between headlands which are the sites of 2 ancient Iron Age hill forts, Little Castle Head and Great Castle Head. The coastline on this stretch has numerous red darkened craggy rocks, a sign of being at the mercy of the elements over millennia, such as those at Butt’s Bay.
The scenery becomes more impressive as huge sandstone cliffs contrast with gorse and heather covered headlands, then passing the jagged rocks at Rooks Nest Point before reaching the wide golden sands of Lindsway Beach.
There’s a set of steep steps leading down to the beach but as the weather changed to heavy drizzle, we decided against the detour and continued along the coastal path which had swathes of vibrant wildflowers lining the verges.
Rounding the headland at Watch House Point we passed by some abandoned outbuildings which were marked on a guide map as shelters during bad weather, but which are now fenced off. So we carried on heads down against driving rain until not too far ahead is the ruin of an ivy covered gothic tower. The structure is a listed monument a ‘picturesque castellated folly in a prominent clifftop location’. Folly towers were fashionable in the 1700’s on the estates of landed gentry, usually built on prominent ridges with romantic aspects and commanding views of beautiful surrounding landscape. So this one fits the bill nicely in this clifftop setting.
After passing the tower the path descends into an ancient woodland valley leading to a secluded and sheltered pebble cove with a high walled entrance. Monk Haven is said to be named as a monastery was nearby and the cove was a safe landing point for early Christian pilgrims. In the silence there’s a sense of centuries past in such a tranquil place. A footpath led inland, away from the Coast Path and we later discovered this was the access path to the Monk Haven Manor estate which offers a range of holiday accommodation and looks ideal for a short peaceful break in this area. Perhaps we’ll be back.
We then walked on through lightly wooded slopes flanking the tidal estuary at Musselwick before emerging on to the stony and pebble covered banks which lead along to The Gann. Just along the bank, a Coast Path way-marker lets you know you’re ‘Ar Y Traeth’ , On the beach.
The Gann will be the start point of Walk 17 so to complete this walk we headed inland at this point, returning to Sandy Haven via country lanes, passing character cottages and through the small village of St. Ishmael’s. The village pub, The Brook Inn, is well regarded and would in normal times be an ideal stop off for the customary walkers refreshments. However, we found it sadly closed and up for sale, a sign of the times and perhaps another casualty of Coronavirus. Hopefully it will reopen soon and provide a walkers welcome once again.
Walk 16 Covered a distance of 7.1 miles as a circular route, including 4 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.