Pembroke to Aberystwyth

There are many places in Wales that have difficult to pronounce names, especially for Australians like me. I think that it is almost as difficult as Iceland. Today we visited many of them as we travelled north along the coast to Mid-Wales.

The city of Pembroke (where we stayed last night) is dominated by its castle. The castle was the original family seat of the Earldom of Pembroke. it underwent major restoration during the early 20th century.In 1093, Arnulf of Montgomery built the first castle at the site when he fortified the promontory beside the Pembroke River during the Norman invasion of Wales. A century later, the castle was given by Richard I to William Marshal, who became one of the most powerful men in 12th-century Britain. He rebuilt Pembroke in stone creating most of the structure that remains today. King Henry 7 was born in the castle. 


Just out od Pembroke, we crossed the large bridge over Milford Haven. I walked back some way across the bridge to photograph this line of houses on the skyline at Neryvale. It was typical of many Welsh towns that we have seen with brightly its coloured terrace houses.


Our first stop was at a little beach called Sandy Haven – only because we saw a sign pointing to it, and thought that it might be interesting to see. To get there we travelled about four miles along really narrow laneways. At some turns it looked as though we would be driving right into a farm but it was just that the farm buildings were sitting on both sides of the narrow road. On one corner, we just missed a young woman driving a little Fiat and we met her again on the same corner as we drove back.


The baach itself was rathe pretty with a few boats at anchor and  a nice stretch of sand.


This was the last day of the Bank Holiday and the little towns were less crowded although there were quite a number of caravans and motor homes on the road. The countryside was green and lush.


The coastline along here is rugged and beautiful. We took a side trip to a place called Marloes where a National Trust Car Park marked the beginning of a walking track to the coast. I walked a little over a kilometre each way and found a rugged coastline. It seemed rather incongruous along the way to see a family all rugged up in jackets and gloves, carrying a surfboard!


The place  that we most wanted to see today was the city of St David’s with its cathedral.  It is the final resting place of Saint David, Wales’s patron saint, and named after him. St Davids is the United Kingdom’s smallest city in terms of population and urban area. It was given city status In the 16th century, I thought this status applied automatically because the city had a cathedral and a Bishop. This association between having a cathedral and being called a city was established in the early 1540s when King Henry VIII founded dioceses. City status was lost in 1886 but, at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, restored here in 1994.


In the afternoon, we continued travelling north with a few deviations to interesting places. One was to the lighthouse at Strumble Head. You can occasionally see dolphins and whales at this point, but not today.


On the way back from the lighthouse we came across a mechanic and workshop. I couldn’t help but think that my friend Robert would have liked these old Morrises. He’d might have been able to get parts from a few of them to make a complete one.


There were many pretty villages along the way and this one at Solva was one of them.


At the little village of Nevern, there was an old church with more ancient Yew trees. One is reported to bleed red sap that can perform miracles. I’m not sure about that, but the building and its church yard were vary old and attractive.


As we travelled further north to our night’s destination at Aberystwyth, the road travelled closer to the coast. We drove though a number of little villages with interesting little harbours.

The harbour at Fishguard was protected by an old canon. The town name derives from Old Norse Fiskigarðr meaning “fish catching enclosure”, indicating that there may have once been a Scandinavian trading post. 

The town is situated at the back of a north facing bay known as Fishguard Bay which offers protection from waves generated by the westerly winds.It is rich in wildlife with a wide variety of colourful wild flowers and sea mammals including the grey seal, porpoises and dolphins. 


Our final stop was at Cardigan where it was just beginning to rain. The settlement there was developed around the Norman castle built in the late 11th or early 12th century. It was the location of the first National Eisteddfod in 1176. The town became an important port in the 18th century, but declined by the early 20th century owing to its shallow harbour.


5 thoughts on “Pembroke to Aberystwyth

  1. Bruce I was looking forward to some of those ‘difficult’ names appearing on your blog!

    The roads (if one can call them roads!) must make the driving that little bit more difficult.

    As always a very interesting travelogue.



    ps Hello Jill!!

  2. Beautiful photographs and story Bruce; am thoroughly enjoying my armchair tour. Thank you and kind regards to you and your wife. Barbara ( ex Melbourne, now South Africa. )

  3. Loved the Morries. All the double Ll names are pronounce with a Cl I believe. So enjoying the trip as usual. Today felt Colder than January in Norway bbbrrrrrrrr

  4. What varied and interesting terrains and villages and history all in the space of a day. My understanding of a city was the same as yours Bruce. Those narrow roads frighten me a little.

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