I should have set out on this walk at dawn – it’s shaping up to be a warm day, and as I pull out of the Old Point House car park, I’m grateful for the shade from the trees on either side of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. .
I head towards Angle Point and the low cliffs above the channel of Milford Haven, one of the deepest natural harbors in the world and described by Admiral Nelson as “the best harbor in Christendom”. The canal has been in service for thousands of years: the Vikings took refuge here from Atlantic storms; armies fought in it and over it; whaling, fishing and ferry boats sail from the ports of Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock; and in recent times oil refineries and liquefied natural gas terminals have sprung up on its coastline.
Yet the natural beauty of this extraordinary estuary – deep blue, placid waters lapping against rust-red cliffs and the occasional golden-sand cove, over which a patchwork of green and gold fields stretches in the distance – manages to overshadow industrialization and developments. . I stop to watch a gas tanker drive by at the westernmost point of the peninsula, next to the ruins of the East Blockhouse, just one of many defensive sites erected along the waterway over the centuries due to its strategic importance.
I’ve already passed two others: Victorian Chapel Bay Fort, which has tours and a cafe, and Thorne Island, site of a 19th-century coastal artillery fort. At least 12 ships have sunk off Thorne’s rocky shores over the years, the most infamous of which was Loch Shiel in 1894, which had dozens of bottles of whiskey in its cargo and spawned a version Welsh Whiskey Galore.
I choose to enjoy my lunch in glorious seclusion and amid magnificent coastal views.
This is also the coastline on which the oil tanker Sea Empress crashed in February 1996, spilling 72,000 tonnes of crude oil, with devastating effects on the local environment, wildlife and economy – almost everyone living locally has a story of how it affected them. .
I continue south to West Angle Bay. The Wavecrest Cafe on the beach beckons with the last chance to grab a snack on this 10-mile hike. But I’m resisting as I’ve brought my lunch with me and opt to enjoy it in glorious seclusion amidst the magnificent coastal views that the next three and a half mile hike to Freshwater West will bring; in fact, on this section of the walk I only see four other walkers and a dog.
Although the cliffs on the south coast of the Angle peninsula rarely exceed 50 metres, the descents to the various coves along the way take me almost to sea level and are surprisingly steep, reminding me that the walkers who complete the entire Pembrokeshire Coast The 186-mile Path, of which I am only walking part, also tackles over 10,000 meters of ascent along the way, which is quite a feat.
I have been visiting Freshwater West for over 40 years to surf its waves, which are among the best in Wales.
I eventually stop over West Pickard Bay for lunch, the high-pitched metallic squawks of a pair of choughs echoing off the cliffs, and I’m treated to a spectacular display of a gannet diving for fish just offshore.
Views to the south get better with every step of the way, as you approach the golden strip of Freshwater West and Frainslake Sands, bordered on one side by the pale blue Atlantic and on the other by dark green sand dunes.
I have been visiting Freshwater West for over 40 years to surf its waves, which are among the best and most consistent in Wales (Frainslake is off limits as it is part of a Ministry of Defense firing range). It’s always had a wild and woolly feel to it, particularly when I used to first come here, when signs above the beach warned of dangerous currents and currents, informing us that surfing was “dangerous and irresponsible” and even warned of (literally) snakes in the grass: the vipers that live in the dunes.
In the 1970s and 1980s, surfing was considered a rogue activity, with a local councilman accusing Freshwater West surfers of setting a bad example that could “lure young children to their deaths”. Today the sport is as conventional as it gets, with a couple of surf schools operating at Freshwater West and the beach now patrolled by RNLI lifeguards.
This magnificent beach appears in all its glory when I walk above the north end of the beach, from where I can revel in a three-mile coastal panorama stretching south to Linney Head. But then I have to turn my back on everything for a brief period of road walking before finally turning onto a secondary road, where an avenue of trees provides some shade, and walking towards the south shore of East Angle Bay.
I can now see the end of my walk in the way of the Old Point House pub on the other side of the bay and luckily the tide is out so I can take a short cut. When the tide is high you have to walk half a mile or so towards the village of Angle and then return to the dirt road that leads to the pub.
It is a pure pleasure to take off my backpack, walk into the cool interior of the pub and order a cold pint. It doesn’t touch the sides…
Google map of the route.
start/finish old point house
Distance 10 miles
Weather 5 hours
full ascent 530 meters
The Old Point House has been a licensed brewery since 1802, though it is widely believed to have been operating as a public house since sometime in the 16th century, when it was the haunt of pirates, including John Callis, who was hanged. for piracy at Newport in 1576.
The pub has been the home of Angle’s lifeboat crew since the lifeboat station opened in 1868, and is now a perfect stopping off point for walkers on the coast path. It is also dog friendly.
It recently took over the owners of Cafe Môr, an old seaweed boat converted into a beach cafe that used to operate from a site on the beach in Freshwater West. Cafe Môr came with them and now serves burgers, crab and lobster rolls and fish butties in the pub’s garden from 11am to 5pm. The pub’s restaurant serves tasting plates that naturally focus heavily on seafood (and seaweed), and is open from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Space is limited, so reservations are recommended.
There is plenty of outdoor seating in fine weather, with splendid views of East Angle Bay, and when a storm is blowing in from the Atlantic, nothing could be more welcoming than settling into Old Point House’s cozy bar and restaurant.
Where to stay
Next year, Old Point House plans to open two large bedrooms and a family suite with two bedrooms, all en-suite or with private bathrooms, with views of the coast or countryside. There will also be a separate six-person cabin on the grounds. Nearby options meanwhile include Castle Farm Camping, a small family farm with pitches for tents and mobile homes on the outskirts of Angle, or The Globe (doubles from £130 B&B)a B&B in a renovated mansion in the village.