We returned to Pembrokeshire on a fine sunny September day to continue our next stage of the coast path, an 8 mile circular walk of Dale Peninsula. This walk starts at ‘The Gann’, the tidal estuary we reached on Walk 16 , where at low tide a wooden walkway provides a crossing point for about 4 hours each day. The tide can catch out those coast walkers on a ‘through-hike’ so timing a walk which crosses here to match the tide times is essential to avoid a detour of a few miles inland by road. The walkway leads onto a shingle beach and a raised embankment, known as ‘The Pickelridge’ which borders large salt marsh pools.
The tidal estuary and pools are a haven for wildlife, particularly wading birds and is one of Pembrokeshire’s best birdwatching sites. From here the coast path follows the country lane into Dale village
The seafront road at Dale overlooks the wide sheltered bay which is popular for water sports activities and with the fine September weather there were many sailing boats and kayaks out on the water.
We headed out of the village, passed the local pub The Griffin Inn and followed a narrow country lane towards Dale Point, a headland where another 19th century fort watches over the entrance to Milford Haven waterway. The fort is now an education centre and the coast path turns inland near the entrance, tracking along the edge of crop fields before meandering through a lovely shaded valley woodland near Castlebeach Bay.
The path drops down to the shoreline where an opening in the trees reveals a small secluded beach here, with views directly across to the Power station on the opposite side of the Haven waterway.
The path climbs back to high ground above the cliffs with great views across this eastern side of the Peninsula, of gently undulating fields and farmland flanked by lush green woodland and vegetation above bare rocky cliffs.
Near Watwick Point there are views across the waterway to the Angle Peninsula while further along are views of the lovely secluded beach at Watwick Bay.
A feature on this section are the beacons for shipping entering the Milford Haven Waterway. At West Blockhouse Point, 3 huge structures tower above the path, blots on the natural landscape perhaps, but providing an essential service for safe passage of the huge tankers navigating the waterway.
Further along the path passes above Mill Bay, a place of some historical significance. It was here in 1485 that Henry Tudor landed on his return from 14 years exile in France. For a moment you can let your imagination picture a scene of his fleet of 55 ships and thousands of soldiers coming ashore to begin their long march to destiny and Henry’s victory over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. A plaque on the coast path marks this location and momentous events.
The path then crosses fields to reach St. Ann’s Head, a lighthouse here marks the tip of the peninsula. This spot has the highest annual level of sunshine in Wales and there’s a noticeable change in the coastal landscape as the exposed aspect reveals dramatic cliffs and grassy headlands on the peninsula’s western side. This makes for particularly rewarding easy walking along this section as the path rounds deeply eroded bays with beautifully rich coloured red sandstone rocks and a clear blue sea providing spectacular scenery.
Highlights along this section are a deeply indented bay with jagged and sheer cliffs intriguingly named as ‘Vomit Point’, before passing the very scenic ‘Frenchman’s Bay’ and then ‘Welshman’s Bay’. This is a perfect spot for a rest break, to sit down on a grassy headland and take in the views westwards of Skokholm Island, especially on a day like this when the sun is shining and there’s a refreshing sea breeze, for a healthy top-up dose of ‘Vitamin Sea’.
On the approach towards Westdale Bay, there’s a fine view to the east across the valley of gently sloping green fields, Dale Castle and in the distance, sailing boats in the bay.
We soon reached the headland, ‘Great Castle Head’ an Iron Age hill fort overlooking Westdale Bay, a lovely scenic beach flanked by high sloping cliffs.
From here there’s the option to take a path which leads away from the coast, passing Dale Castle and into the village.
A great way to complete this circular walk is to finish by enjoying a refreshing pint at The Griffin Inn, a lovely old pub with a snug bar overlooking the bay.
This walk is just over 8 miles including the crossing at The Gann then a circular east – west route taken around Dale Peninsula before returning into the village, completed at a leisurely pace in just over 3 hours.
We have now completed 82 miles of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, so just 104 miles to go. Join us again for our next walk in the series.