Tenby to Cardigan
Take a trip along Pembrokeshire’s magnificent heritage coast
Follow the route - Tenby to Cardigan
> Leave Tenby on the A4139 and then turn left on to the B4585 to Manorbier.
The medieval traveller and scholar, Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), was born here in 1147 and described it as the ‘pleasantest spot in Wales’. There is a castle dating from Gerald’s time, which gives an impressive view out to sea from the ramparts. The sandy beach has rocky pools, and is a perfect playground for children.
Places to stay near Manorbier
> Return to the A4139 for 5 miles (8km) to Lamphey.
The romantic ruins of a 13th-century Bishop’s Palace lie to the northeast of Lamphey. The Palace, with its ornate parapets, fishponds and notable 16th-century chapel, was built as a country retreat for the Bishops of St David’s.
Places to stay near Lamphey
> Continue along the A4139 to Pembroke.
This ancient town was built around the great 12th- to 13th-century fortress of Pembroke Castle, the largest castle in the area, and the birthplace of Henry Tudor. It still has its fine round keep, and beneath the castle is a huge natural cavern known as The Wogan. The Georgian town hall houses the Pembroke Museum with local history collections, mural displays and regular exhibitions.
Nearby Pembroke Dock produced nearly 300 ships, including some of the most powerful in Queen Victoria’s navy and four famous Royal Yachts. The dockyard closed suddenly in 1926, with disastrous consequences for the local workforce.
> Take the A477, then join the A4076 to Haverfordwest – 11 miles (18km).
The 12th-century castle on the hill high above the town is now a ruin. There is more history next door at Castle House, location of the Town Museum. The town is cut in two by the River Cleddau.
Places to stay near Haverfordwest
> Head northwest along the A487 to Solva.
Solva’s old port still has warehouses and a restored lime kiln, and is a favourite sailing spot. Some of its cottages and merchants’ houses have been converted to quality craft shops. Visit Solva Woollen Mill, specialising in carpets, tapestry and floor rugs; it is one of only two remaining woollen mills in Pembrokeshire – in 1900 there were 26.
Places to stay near Solva
> Keep on along the A487 for 3 miles (5km) to St Davids.
Visiting St Davids
The city of St Davids – the smallest in Britain – was founded on the site of an early Christian community, and is dominated by the cathedral and the graceful, medieval walled Bishop’s Palace. Sea-based activities include whale and dolphin watching. The Queen visited St Davids in 1995 to confer city status upon it.
Places to stay in St Davids
> Turn northeastwards, still on the A487 to Mathry.
This little village overlooks the Western Cleddau source stream. Mountain bikes can be hired for rides into the Preseli Hills, from where 33 dolerite stones were transported to Stonehenge. Northwest of Mathry is Abercastle, where there is a burial chamber with a 16-foot (5m) capstone resting on three of its original seven supports.
> Continue along the A487 to Fishguard.
Fishguard has two parts. Upper Fishguard stands back from the sea, and from it the road falls steeply to Lower Fishguard, a quaint and largely unspoiled town. There are many ancient links with boating here. The July Fishguard Music Festival is another attraction.
For a windblown and bracing day, take a return trip on the ferry to Rosslare, across the Irish Sea. Tregwynt Woollen Mill, at St Nicholas, is a working mill open to the public, which produces traditional Welsh weaves.
Places to stay in Fishguard
> Head east to Newport, still travelling on the A487.
Robert Owen, the 18th-century founder of the Cooperative movement and so-called father of socialism, was born here in 1771 and, at the tender age of 10, began work in the town’s flourishing textiles industry. He went on to run and own some of the largest textile factories in Britain. His former house is now a museum and there are several statues of him dotted around town.
Oriel Davies, one of Wales’ major public galleries, shows contemporary arts and crafts from around the world and a popular Food Festival is held each year, usually in September. The remains of Newport’s 12th-century castle can still be seen at a distance.
One and a half miles (2.5km) west of town is Cerrig y Gof, a group of burial chambers forming a circle. Pentre Ifan Cromlech lies 2 miles (3km) southeast of Newport.
Places to stay in Newport
> Turn left along unclassified roads through Moylgrove and St Dogmaels, then take the B4546 to Cardigan.
St Dogmaels Abbey, just outside Cardigan, was founded in 1115, and the ruins include large fragments of the north and west walls standing almost to their original height. One of Cardigan’s most striking architectural features is the ancient bridge, which spans the River Teifi, but little now remains of Cardigan Castle, where the first National Eisteddfod took place in 1176. The magnificent towers of Cilgerran Castle, best reached from along the A484, overlook the gorge of the Teifi just upstream from the town. Visit the Welsh Wildlife Centre, and the National Coracle Centre and Mill at Cenarth, a few miles along the A484.