Pssst…a secret corner of Pembrokeshire
For some reason National Geographic’s award to Pembrokeshire of the number two slot in the top 100 coastal destinations in 2010 seems to have passed most of us by. I’m Ok with that because there are some places that you just want to keep under your hat. More recently though I have become so enchanted with a corner of North Pembrokeshire in West Wales – St Dogmaels and Poppit Sands – that I have decided to break ranks and shout about it even if it means sharing it with you.
Poppit Sands: Vast expansive beach in North Pembrokeshire near the village of St Dogmaels
For the first time it is now possible to walk the entire length of the Pembrokeshire coastal path and witness pods of bottle-nosed dolphins as you go because Cardigan Bay is home to Europe’s biggest population, but they are just the tip of Pembrokeshire’s charismatic mega fauna. Keep your eyes peeled and you can easily spot red kites, grey seals and the endangered curlew with its haunting song.
Bottle nosed porpoises: Europe’s largest population are in Cardigan Bay
It is true I am wildlife geek but even if you aren’t there is menu of ‘much to do’ in the area including some great foodie haunts where you can eat some of the edible local wildlife. The 25 MILE – local eating house in Cardigan town is new and as the name suggests it only serves food produced, grown or caught within 25 miles. I ate delicious fish I have never heard of including grey mullet and sewin. There is also a more traditional sister pub and restaurant – THE FERRY INN – with a stunning terrace looking down the Cardigan estuary at St Dogmaels. If you just fancy the best fish and chips in the land then get to fish and chip shop in St Dogmaels early because the queue runs out the door and down the street.
The view from the terrace at the Ferry Inn down the estuary at St Dogmael’s
Right, after all that nosebag, it must be time to get active and what a choice. I am more inclined to just stride out on to the wide stretches of Blue Flag beach at Poppit Sands or on to the dramatic coastal path but if you did want more exhilaration then try surfing, kayaking, para-gliding and white water rafting. The guys at FFOREST are your best resource for what they call ‘active relaxation’.
And no trip is complete without a trip to world famous Cardigan based stylish and ethical clothing company, HOWIES. Their T shirts, jeans and sportswear look good and last – more than living up to their slogan ‘wear it out’. I am also heartened to hear that they have now wrestled control back from Timberland who bought them out. ‘Keep it Local’ we say.
Although I have been visiting this part of the world for a while we have been waiting for someone to provide some decent contemporary accommodation. Finally, Helen and Anne, have done just that with the creation of ORIEL MILGI B&B in St Dogmaels. A restored Sea captain’s house now provides three stylish ensuite bedrooms, some are dog friendly too.
ORIEL MILGI (Oriel is Welsh for Gallery in case you didn’t know) also home to a collection of paintings, prints, photographs and ceramics by contemporary Welsh and international artists. Many of the paintings on display are by Anne, whose work can also be seen in The Lemon Tree Gallery, St Dogmaels and Harbour Lights Gallery, Porthgain.
The communal comtemporary at the Oriel Milgi B&B in St Dogmael’s, Penbrokeshire
And before you leave ORIEL MILGI, don’t forget to ask Anne or Helen to take you to see their neighbour who sells fresh crab, lobster and fantastic fish for a taste of the ocean when you get home. If you wanted to see someone else’s assessment, then check out freelance eco travel writer, Rhiannon Batten in the INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY – she is just back from Oriel Milgi and Pembrokeshire.
Drive times to St Dogmaels, North Pembrokeshire:
2hours from Cardiff
2 hours, 59 minutes from Bristol
3 hours, 35 minutes from Birmingham
3 hours, 55 minutes from Manchester
4 hours, 30 minutes from Heathrow
Created and written by Simon Forrester, co-owner and founder of FURTHER AFIELD – hand-picked gay friendly places to stay