HIGHLIGHTS / PLACES OF INTEREST
Maes y Mynydd
There is an optional diversion to what might have been an old quaker village called Maes-y-mynydd through an old stone lined path known as the “Road to New York”
Local tradition has it that this was a settlement chosen for its remote location to find peace away from society and reconnect with the land. Legend also says that they were determined to make the sailing across to the Americas.
Archaeology tells us that they were probably a fishing community although access to the sea from this point would have been treacherous. There were up to 7 houses first recorded in 1829, but by 1908 the settlement was in decline. Did they every make it to America, we wonder?
St David's Head
As a land that is so remote and on the edge, it is easy to connect with a deeper sense of time here as you pass Coetan Arthur, a burial chamber dating back to 3,500 BC.
The landscape of St David’s Head has a prehistoric feel to it with massive slabs and boulders. But there is also evidence of a promontory fort which is considered to have been occupied in the late Iron Age. Interestingly there is further evidence of a massive wall across the headland making the fort (Clawdd y Milwyr) incredibly well defended.
Whitesands Bay would have been the point where seaborne pilgrims from Ireland would have landed and gave thanks to God for their safe passage. As you enter the bay and before reaching the car park, you pass over the site of St Patrick’s Chapel. The remains of the chapel are beneath the sand dunes and were excavated recently to reveal graves from as far back as the sixth century.
Whitesands Bay has one of the finest beaches in Wales and is particularly popular with surfers. It can be very busy on a hot summer’s day. It is designated a Blue Flag beach and there are life guards in attendance during busy times. The rocky outcrop of Carn Llidi towers over the beach and is well worth a diversion to ascend it. The views are spectacular and you can also rest up there on St Patrick’s seat, the place allegedly where St Patrick was visited by an angel and told to travel to Ireland to spread the Christian message.
On Coast Path
Maes y Mynydd
Road to New York
St Patrick's Chapel
Cromlech on Carn Llidi
St Patrick’s Chapel
There is a tradition that St Patrick set sail from Porth Mawr (Whitesands beach) in 432 AD to convert Ireland to Christianity. The site of a Celtic chapel, dedicated to St Patrick, is located under a mound by the car park just to the east of the bay, at what is thought to have been the disembarkation point for pilgrims to St Davids Cathedral.
Excavation of the cemetery has revealed over 100 burials to date. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the cemetery was in use from the 6th century to the 11th century A.D. Furthermore, analysis of the skeletons at the University of Sheffield has revealed a mixed population of men, women and children of all ages. Graves were aligned east–west with the head to the west. In keeping with the Christian burial tradition there were no possessions buried with the bodies. Some of the skeletons were in cists – graves lined and capped with stone slabs, a burial tradition common across western Britain in the early medieval period.
The seas around Pembrokeshire are home to the Big 5 Cetacean Species which are the Common dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Harbour porpoise, Risso’s dolphin and Minke whales. Pictured here are Risso dolphins identifiable through having a broad head, no beak and a tall dorsal fin.
The Sea Trust recommend techniques for spotting cetaceans – scan the sea, looking for a flash of movement or colour (calmer seas make for easier spotting); keep looking at the spot; look for other signs such as accumulation of birds feeding on fish being pushed to the surface.
Image credit: Sea Trust, based in Goodwick at Ocean Lab on the harbour front.
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