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Secret Beaches


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Among the Top Ten Secret Beaches in Wales

Wales is blessed with a spectacular coastline. In among its famous stretches of sand are some lovely hidden coves and bays. Rob Smith, author of Secret Beaches Wales, picks 10 of the most secluded, and where to eat nearby.


Presipe, near Tenby, Pembrokeshire


Presipe, about 20 minutes' walk from Manorbier, is a true gem. Huge crags of fossil-rich red rock jut forth towards the sea to form private coves and slips of sand. This bay is secluded, you are unlikely to find it touched by any footprints other than your own.

OSreference: SS 069 970.

The pit stop: The Castle Inn, Manorbier, Tenby A mix of surfers, families and locals of all ages makes this cosy little pub buzz with life most days of the week. Try the blanchbait, a plumper alternative to whitebait, deep fried and served with a chunk of bread and salad. Or tuck into a hearty and wholesome curry of Welsh Blackbeef, lamb or vegetables.

• 01834 871268

Getting there: Drive south out of Tenby on the A4139. Drive through Penally and Lydstep. One kilometre after Lydstep, turn left on to the B4585 and follow all the way to Manorbier. From the village, follow signs to the beach and park in the beach car park.


Watwick, near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire


The small waterfall at the back of this little sandy bay streams on to the sand among shards of purple slate: it's a lovely, quiet place to unwind. The impressive views take in West Angle Bay, Rat Island and the whole length of Milford Haven and Man of War Roads, a 15km ship-teeming passage leading from Dale all the way to Pembroke Dock.

OS reference: SM 817 040

The pit stop: Griffin Inn, Dale, Haverfordwest The owners of this waterside pub, Sian and Simon, are incredibly welcoming hosts who pride themselves on their home-grown ingredients and serve some excellent local cask ales. It's an idyllic spot in summer, and also in winter – thanks to warm stoves and open fires.

• 01646 636227 www.griffininndale.co.uk

Getting there: From Haverfordwest, drive southwest on the B4327, which will take you all the way to Dale. Park in the main car park on the right when you reach the beach.


Porthmynawyd, near Newgale, Pembrokeshire


Surrounded by a lush green valley, this little bay between Solva and Newgale is a must for swimmers. Part of the wider expanse of St Brides Bay, Porthmynawyd is well protected from the slicing currents that run between the mainland and nearby Ramsey Island. Swim through clear channels or explore countless hidden caves filled with fluorescent blue water. After mid-tide, the bay reveals some large patches of soft, wet sand, perfect for building castles and moats, if visiting with children.

OS reference: SM 826 229

The pit stop: The Old Pharmacy, Solva In the past, the owners have raised three of their own pigs for use in the restaurant and their intention is to breed chickens and cattle as well. The lobster comes from pots just offshore near the Solva estuary and all the seasonal vegetables are grown on the farms around St Davids. Start with a Solva harbour crab pot, followed with a grilled organic Welsh Black sirloin and rounded off with a selection of Welsh cheeses.

• 5 Main Street, 01437 720005

Getting there: Drive north out of Newgale on the A487. After about three kilometres, you pass a turn for Pointz Castle Farm on your left. Park in the lay-by just past the turning, again on your left.


Porthmelgan, near Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire


A short skip from the beautiful-but-busy Whitesands Bay is this tiny beach, tucked just behind the would-be earlobe of St Davids Head. A tapering stream cuts across the sand and sheltered waters create the perfect conditions for paddling, crabbing or bathing on a warm summer's day. Whatever you do, save enough energy for the return route, which takes you to the top of Carn Llidi, a lofty peak studded with 5,000-year-old burial chambers. From here, the panoramic view across to St Davids cathedral and the entire north Pembrokeshire coastline, with its islands and inlets, is truly outstanding. OS reference: SM 728 279

The pit stop: Cwtch, St Davids This fantastic little restaurant has stolen the hearts of the foodies in St Davids and it has the awards to prove it. The lunchtime line-up includes pork hock terrine with apricot and pistachio, and come evening there's 21-day matured, 8oz sirloin with triple-cooked chips or pan-fried Solva sea bass with sauce vierge. It can get busy, so you'll need to book in high season.

• 22 High Street, St Davids, 01437 720491, www.cwtchrestaurant.co.uk

Getting there: Briefly follow the A487 heading northeast out of St Davids, then join the B4583 to Whitesands Bay.Follow the signs to Whitesands Bay all the way to the beach and car park.


Porthsychan, near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire


A 10-minute drive from Fishguard and a 20-minute stroll from the impressive Strumble Head will bring you to this quiet cove, which is perfect for a family day out and a genuine refuge from the summer crowds. Swimming can be enjoyed without the fear of strong currents or large swells, and you can spot seals enjoying the bay too. Backed by low headlands and no less than three waterfalls, it is easy to linger at Porthsychan for as long as the sun allows.

OS reference: SM 905 407

The pit stop: Links Golf Club Restaurant and Bar, Newport Commanding views over Newport Bay and a menu of local dishes draw in a crowd of regulars. Try the wild venison loin or Jerusalem artichoke risotto. In the evening, sunlight bounces off the sheer cliffs on the opposite side of the bay and streams into the dining room.

• Golf Course Road, Newport, 01239 820244, www.newportsands.co.uk

Getting there: From Fishguard, drive down to Goodwick and after you pass the harbour, at the roundabout, drive up the hill following the signs for Strumble Head. It's a steep 10-minute route to Strumble Head Lighthouse car park.


Aber Castell, near New Quay, Ceredigion

Aber Castell

This is a real smuggler's cove, with two islands to clamber on and numerous hollows along the cliff. One of these, deeper than the rest, has a steady flow of water tumbling from its cavernous roof, seemingly designed for those wishing to rinse themselves of salt and sand. The beach is only 15 minutes' walk from the car park, although the option of a longer return route takes you back through wooded valleys, along riverside pathways and past ferocious waterfalls.

OS reference: SN 359 579

The pit stop: The Crown Inn, Llwyndafydd Built in 1799,The Crown Inn is a former Welsh longhouse, with old stone walls and wood-burning stoves. On Sundays there is a carvery, and on a summer's afternoon the pretty garden comes into its own, boasting plenty of tables and a children's play area.

• 01545 560396

Getting there: Travelling north-east out of Cardigan,on the A487, in Plwmp, about five kilometres before the turning to New Quay, take the left next to the post office. This will lead you to the village of Llwyndafydd. Entering the village, just before the pub car park, turn left on to a small lane. Follow this all the way to Cwmtydu.


Mowingwood Bay, Pembrokeshire

Mowingwood Bay is a quieter alternative to the popular Barafundle Bay in Pembrokeshire and is just 0.2 miles away from Barafundle but doesn't attract huge crowds.

At this quiet bay, you'll find intriguing rock formations, caves and a blowhole., low tide also reveals a stretch of golden sand.


Church Cove Doors, Pembrokeshire

Church Cove Doors has a unique, high-arched ‘door’ cut into the headland by the sea that features a sandy and rocky cove that is tricky to reach but worth the effort

Access to this beach is at low tide only and via the coastal path only, or via a kayak, if you are exploring the spectacular Pembrokeshire coast on a sea kayak. There are several outdoor companies that organise kayak trips to Church Cove and other rocky bays.

Explore Churches offer a 'pilgrims from the sea' adventure, where you can explore the Pembrokeshire coastline and learn more about 6th-century saints and medieval pilgrims

If you’re planning to visit, check out the tide times to make sure you don’t get cut off by the incoming tide.


Penbryn, Ceredigion

One of Ceredigion's best kept secrets, this beautifully secluded sandy cove lies down leafy lanes lined with flower-covered banks.

Penbryn is owned by the National Trust. The beach is almost a mile in length.

There is a car park on Llanborth Farm as you arrive, some 400 metres from the beach. The walk down to the beach is either on the lane or follow the footpath signs from the back of the car park (behind the café ) which takes you into a beautiful wooded valley, full of wood anemones in the spring.


Swanlake Bay, Pembrokeshire

This secluded bay is only accessible from the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path so is the perfect getaway if you need some time and space just to take in the lush surroundings.

It is a shingle beach but at low tide, it reveals golden sands and rock pools, backed by low cliffs. Even at the height of summer, you could be one of only a handful of visitors.


St Govan's Chapel & Tank Beach, Pembrokeshire

St Govan's Chapel

St Govan's Chapel
Climb down the steps to this tiny, dark hermit’s cell, built into a cleft in the high cliffs with stupendous views out over the sea. You can scramble down the rocks below and coasteer to Huntsman’s Leap in calm weather. Or bear due east from the car park ½ mile to a long, snaky, sandy inlet known locally as Tank Beach.


Ceibwr Bay, Pembrokeshire

Ceibwr Bay

Ceibwr Bay
This narrow inlet of rocks and sand is surrounded by tall cliffs. It’s wild and remote and not suitable for swimming but great if you want to spot a porpoise.

It's reached by a narrow lane along the Nant Ceibwr valley from the village of Moylegrove.

Approximately ⅔ mile to the southwest along the coastal path is the Witches Cauldron or Pwll-y-Wrach - a large collapsed cave formed by the sea eroding the soft shale rocks.

Tywyn Point, Carmarthenshire

5 miles away from popular Pembrey Sands lies Tywyn Point, a secluded bay that sits within the RAF firing zone of the beach, meaning access is normally restricted to evenings and weekends.

It's worth the trek to this quiet spot though as it has largely escaped the attention of visitors. You'll find an interesting array of shells lining the golden sands and a distant shipwreck of the Paul, which ran aground in 1925.


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