If someone said 'I'm off for a stroll from St Dogmaels to Amroth' few people would know what they were talking about - but those who love wild, unspoiled coastline should find out fast. For those places are at opposite ends of one of Britain's best long-distance walks, the 299 km (186 mi) Pembrokeshire Coast Path in West Wales. This splendid National Trail is not only a satisfying walk amidst the rugged beauty of an extraordinary coast, but also a hike through history.
For much of the wilder northern section the Path keeps to cliff tops, giving marvellous views of beaches, cliffs and offshore islands, plus abundant seabird life. In spring, there is the added bonus of colourful wildflowers. The section from St Dogmaels to St Davids includes the rocky bay of Witches Cauldron, Whitesands Bay (from where St Patrick set sail for Ireland), the Norman castle at historic Newport, the old harbour at Lower Fishguard and Porthclais (where St David was baptized).
The middle section to Milford Haven follows the sweeping St Brides Bay that has beautiful beaches, picturesque villages, Marloes Sands with extraordinary multi-coloured cliffs, a little chapel at St Ann's Head and the imposing Victorian fort at Dale Haven. The southern section is gentler, passing along the shores of Milford Haven's great natural harbour (teeming with birdlife) before reaching some of the finest beaches in Wales - Freshwater West, Broad Haven South, Barafundle Bay and Freshwater East. There's also plenty of commanding cliff scenery, especially numerous stacks and arches on the Castlemartin Peninsula. There is plenty of heritage to enjoy, too, inducting Pembroke Castle and the village of Angle with its wonderful old church, Fisherman's Chapel, dovecote and medieval tower-house. Coastal Path ends at Amroth.
WHEN TO GO
All year (but winter months are reserved for the hardy!).
TIME IT TAKES
Around two weeks for the complete journey
One of the finest Neolithic dolmens (burial chambers) in Wales - Carreg Sampson near the village of Mathry.
The glorious medieval Cathedral and Bishop's Palace at enchanting St Davids - Britain's (and surely the world's) smallest city.
Delightful. unspoiled fishing villages - there are plenty to choose from along the Coast Path, but Solva and Little Haven are two of the prettiest.
The great Norman castle of Manorbier and the Church of St James, in a stunning location near Tenby.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
The last invaders to set foot on British soil were French troops in 1797, who landed at Fishguard Bay but surrendered after two days of drunken looting.