I should have started this walk at dawn: it promises to be a hot day and, as I leave the Old Point House parking lot, I am grateful for the shade of the trees on both sides of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
I head to Angle Point and the low cliffs above the waterway of Milford Haven, one of the deepest natural harbors in the world and described by Admiral Nelson as “the most beautiful harbor in Christendom”. The waterway has been in service for thousands of years: the Vikings here sheltered from Atlantic storms; armies fought in and on it; whalers, fishing boats and ferries set sail from the ports of Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock; and recently oil refineries and liquefied natural gas terminals have sprung up on its shoreline.
Yet the natural beauty of this extraordinary estuary – placid deep blue waters lapping rust-red cliffs and occasional coves of golden sand, above which a patchwork of green and golden fields stretches in the distance – manages to overshadow industrialization and developments. I stop to observe the passage of an oil tanker in the westernmost point of the peninsula near the ruins of the East Blockhouse, just one of the many defensive sites erected along the watercourse over the centuries due to its strategic importance.
I’ve already passed two others: the Victorian Chapel Bay Fort, which offers guided tours and a cafe, and Thorne Island, site of a 19th-century coastal artillery fort. At least 12 ships have sunk off the rocky shores of Thorne over the years, the most infamous of which was Loch Shiel in 1894, which had dozens of whiskey bottles in its cargo, and resulted in a Welsh version of Whiskey. in abundance.
I choose to enjoy lunch in glorious seclusion and magnificent coastal views
This is also the coast where the Sea Empress tanker crashed in February 1996, spilling 72,000 tons of crude oil, with devastating effects on the local environment, wildlife and economy – virtually everyone living locally has a history of how it affected them.
I continue south to West Angle Bay. Wavecrest Cafe above the beach tempts you with the last chance to cool off on this 10-mile hike. But I resist because I took my lunch with me and decided to enjoy it in glorious seclusion amidst the magnificent coastal views that will take the next three and a half miles to Freshwater West – in fact, on this stretch of the walk I will only see four others. walkers and a dog.
Although the cliffs along the southern shore of the Angle Peninsula rarely exceed 50 meters, the descents to the various coves along the route take me almost to sea level and are surprisingly steep, reminding me of the fact that the hikers who complete the whole of Pembrokeshire The 186-mile Coast Path – of which I’m only walking part of it – also tackles more than 10,000 meters of elevation along the way, which is quite a feat.
I have been visiting Freshwater West for over 40 years to surf its waves, which are some of the best in Wales
Finally I stop above West Pickard Bay for lunch, with the high-pitched, metallic chirps of a couple of choughs echoing through the cliffs, and I am offered a spectacular performance by a gannet diving for fish just offshore. .
The views to the south improve with every step of the way as the golden expanse of Freshwater West and Frainslake Sands draw closer, bordered on one side by pale blue Atlantic and on the other by dark green sand dunes.
I have been visiting Freshwater West for more than 40 years to surf its waves, which are some of the best and most consistent in Wales (Frainslake is off limits, being part of a Ministry of Defense shooting range). It always had a wild and woolly vibe, particularly when I first came here, when the signs above the beach signaled dangerous currents and rips, informed us that the surf 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 rebellious activity and Freshwater West surfers were accused by a local councilor of setting a bad example that could “lure children to death”. Today, the sport is as prevalent as possible, with a couple of surf schools operating in Freshwater West and the beach now patrolled by RNLI lifeguards.
This magnificent beach appears in all its glory as I walk over the northern end of the beach, from where I can enjoy a three-mile coastal panorama that extends south to Linney Head. But then I have to turn my back on all this for a short period of road walking before finally turning onto a side street, where a tree-lined avenue casts shade, and descending towards the south shore of East Angle Bay.
I can now see the end of my walk in the form of the Old Point House pub on the other side of the bay, and luckily the tide is low so I can take a shortcut. When the tide is higher, you have to walk about half a mile towards the village of Angle and then back on the dirt road that leads to the pub.
It’s a sheer pleasure to take off your backpack, step into the cool interior of the pub and order a cold pint. Doesn’t touch the sides …
Google map of the route
Start end Old Point House
Distance 10 miles
Time 5 hours
Total climb 530 meters
The Old Point House has been a licensed brewery since 1802, although it is widely believed that it has operated as a pub since the 16th century, when it was the haunt of pirates, including John Callis, who was hanged for piracy in Newport in 1576.
The pub has been the venue for the Angle lifeboat crew since the lifeboat station opened in 1868, and is now a perfect stopping point for hikers on the coastal path. It is also suitable for dogs.
It was recently taken over by the owners of Cafe Môr, an old seaweed boat converted into a beach bar that operated from a site above Freshwater West beach. Cafe Môr came with them and now serves burgers, crab and lobster rolls and fish butts in the pub garden from 11am to 5pm. The pub’s restaurant serves tasting dishes naturally focused on seafood (and seaweed) and is open from 17:00 to 20:00, Wednesday through Sunday. Places are limited so reservations are recommended.
There’s plenty of outdoor seating when the weather is nice, with great views over East Angle Bay, and when a storm comes from the Atlantic nothing could be more welcoming than sitting in the Old’s cozy bar and restaurant. Point House.
Next year the Old Point House plans to open two large bedrooms and a two-bedroom family suite, all with private or ensuite bathrooms, overlooking the coast or countryside. There will also be a self-contained lodge with six beds in the park. Meanwhile, nearby options include Castle Farm Camping, a small family run farm with tent pitches and mobile homes on the outskirts of Angle, or The Globe (doubles from £ 130 B&B)a B&B in a renovated building in the village.