Road Trip of South Wales Part 1: Pembrokeshire

South Wales is home to some gorgeous scenery. I know I’ve said this a lot about Wales but it just keeps surprising me. With dramatic beach towns and narrow winding roads to get lost on it’s a great place to explore.

Most vacationers to Wales tend to head to the southern part of the country. Cardiff is the main and largest city, however, I decided that I was going to skip Cardiff on this trip and opt for the less populated towns. This portion of my trip was really up in the air. I really didn’t have a plan except that there were several specific places I wanted to visit such as St. David’s Cathedral and the Pembrokeshire coast. Both of which boast beautiful settings.

Once I left Portmerion I took a 3 hour trip south to Fishguard, it would be my home base for the next two nights while I explored the Pembrokeshire coast of South Wales. It was some of the most gorgeous country I have driven through. I ended up stopping for lunch on the way in Tre’r-ddol at a place called Cletwr. It was the first thing I saw but I’m so glad that I stopped.

Cletwr Cafe is a community-run shop and cafe. All the proceeds go back into the Tre’r-ddol community. If you happen to be in this part of the world get the chicken and cheese sandwich. You won’t be sorry. I think it was the best sandwich I’ve had…it could be because I was hungry…but I don’t think so. This is a great spot to pick up good, healthy food. I happened to sit at a table that was set aside for people who were on their own and didn’t mind if someone sat with them. It was called the Chatter & Natter table. I just loved that I happened to sit at this table.

Fishguard/Goodwick: Where I stayed

Fishguard itself is a coastal town in the northern part of Pembrokeshire. The town seemed relatively quiet. I stayed at the Ivy Bridge Guest House close to the port area. It was nicely located next to well-kept walking paths which lead you past the town Rugby complex and to the harbor. I was there on a weekend and it was still pretty quiet. My accommodations were nice and situated on the south side of town so it was easy to hop on the road down to St. David’s which took 30 minutes.

I didn’t do much in Fishguard itself. The Ivy Bridge had a wonderful full breakfast included in the stay, which I took full advantage of. There are several restaurants in the port area but I ended up eating at my hotel because the hotel restaurant, which is only open to guests, operates an authentic Chinese restaurant which Jamie Oliver approved of. It is awesome. The rooms were clean and comfortable.

What to do: St. David’s

St. David’s Cathedral was one of my must-visits. It’s one of those places that when you ask the locals, they all say to go there. I had a few detours on the way…namely the GPS brought me to the center of Haverfordwest which was a very commercial built-up area. However, it did have a great outdoor shopping area, Riverside Shopping, which straddled both sides of the Western Cleddau river. This area was littered with cute coffee shops, eateries, and everything from outdoor clothing shops to hair salons. Once I got some caffeine and a tasty snack I got back on the right road to St. David’s.

As you drive through Wales you’ll see a lot of options for things to do and you’ll have your pick of Woollen Mills, Arts Centers, and historically significant shops. The first place I stopped was Newgale. Newgale is home to two miles of pristine coast and is a favorite for water sport adventurers. The approach from either direction is stunning as you drive from almost 100 ft in elevation down to the coast.

From Newgale, my next stop was the Solva Woollen Mill. On Sundays, the mill is only open for a few short hours so plan your trip accordingly. When they are open, they have a gorgeous mill with beautiful woven products you can purchase for your home and closet. They are the oldest working woolen mill in Pembrokeshire. I stopped in for tea and a lovely lemon cake. They have a small tea room where you can enjoy a light snack. There is also seating outside if the weather is cooperating. When I was there, I was fortunate enough to see a real-life running, Delorian! Back to the future in South Wales.

Finally, I made it to St. David’s cathedral. Since it was a Sunday the cathedral was closed for Sunday services but you could still visit the Bishop’s Palace which the entrance fee is covered under your Cadw explorer’s pass. The Bishop’s palace is definitely worth the stop. Although it is mostly a shell you can still see how the rooms functioned and you could spend all day just walking the grounds.

There has been a church on site since the 6th century. The current cathedral’s construction began in 1181 and was completed shortly after. Over the years it has been restored by famous architects such as John Nash and George Gilbert Scott.

St. David’s itself is a beautiful town full of cute shops, cafes, and restaurants. Some of them to my taste such as Chapel Chocolates, with its wide variety of truffles and molded chocolate and some not so much.

One of the more interesting restaurants I came across was the Grub kitchen at the Bug Farm. If you can guess where I’m going with this… the menu, which I couldn’t bring myself to eat, offered edible insects! I know. If you can get past all of the creepy crawlies, this is a great place to bring kids or anyone who is interested in insects. Dr. Beynon’s Bug Farm is 100 acres of bug heaven. This farm not only grows insects but researches and provides educational tours for school groups and tourists. Even though I felt like things were constantly crawling on me I was pleasantly surprised by the facility and the educational programs offered. This is definitely a must stop, even if you don’t think it’s for you.

Things to know before you go

  • All of the roads are pretty steep in St. David’s so make sure you have good footwear.
  • If you are driving note that the parking facilities are all pay-to-park and you will need cash, they do not take credit cards or notes for that mater so make sure you have coins.
  • Bring a raincoat. It is the UK and subject to the unpredictable rain shower or two.
  • Stop as often as you can. Wales has so many breathtaking views and historical points of interest. Make sure you build in some time for things that you come upon and don’t plan for.

Are you planning for your next road trip? Would you visit Wales on your next trip? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time.

 

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