Wales is probably not the first place you’d think of going for your summer holiday, but with over 870 miles of coast spanning the whole west side of the country, it’s the perfect place for a road trip. And that’s exactly what my boyfriend and I did a few years ago by travelling down the Welsh coast.
Being Welsh, we’ve both spent time holidaying in west Wales. When I was younger, my grandparents had a caravan in the seaside town of New Quay in the beautiful Cardigan Bay, before later moving a little further in-land to the slightly more rural land of Llangranog (which also has it’s own little beach). New Quay is a small, quaint Welsh town, situated on top of a hill leading down to the coast. You could walk around the town by going down one hill, across the front and back up the adjacent hill, a journey we’d make every time we visited, stopping off at the Sea Shell shop on one side and the amusements on the other.
The little beach which lives at the bottom of the hill used to be packed with summer holidaymakers, and we’d spend our days building castles on the beach and manoeuvring our rubber dingy around the small harbour. Hugging the beach and harbour is a small stoney pier, which we’d walk along attempting to spot seals and dolphins which roamed the sea. My grandfather always won at spotting them first.
For Aaron, it was all about Tenby, which is a small seaside town situated in Pembrokeshire. Tenby is a little picturesque town which is housed in the walls of some 13th century ruins. It’s the home to over 200 listed buildings, which are all painted in pastel blues, pinks and yellows, giving the area a sort of French Riviera feel. When he first took me there when we were 18, I fell in love. We used to spend most summers there, heading back to the Tenby air as much as we could.
We’d drive in from near-by New Hedges, or walk the forest path which took around 20 mins, and start our day at North beach, before grabbing some fresh cockles from the little hut on the beach and making our way through the town to the beautiful South beach. From here, you can see the old monkey sanctuary which is on the top of a huge rock, and also the beautiful Caldey Island just out at sea, which is the home to a group of Cistercian Monks. You can take a boat trip out to Caldey and explore the old historical buildings like the Lighthouse.
One summer, whilst telling Aaron about the beautiful sights of New Quay, we decided to go on a little day road trip and stop off at as many coastal towns are we could, hugging the cliffs, ignoring our maps and just heading off to explore.
We started by driving straight from Tenby to New Quay via Narbeth and Cardigan, which took around and hour and a half. Once there, I introduced Aaron to the amazing ice cream I loved as a child and reminisced about family holidays as we walked along that old stoney pier. I still didn’t spot a dolphin mind. After a short while, we jumped back in the car and made our way back to Tenby using all the coastal roads.
Our first stop was Fishguard. It’s an incredibly beautiful area situated at the mouth of the River Gwaun. We jumped out of our car and stretched our legs on one of the little coastal paths that ran alongside the sea in Lower Fishguard. After a little while watching a man attempting some water skiing, we headed back in the car and off to our next spot, the historic city of St David’s.
St David’s is home to a magnificent cathedral, which is why despite being absolutely tiny, it’s actually a city and not a rural village. I’d never been before so it was an amazing place to stop and take a minute. But, we had a long journey ahead so we carried on hugging the coast, stopping a little while in every town or village we came across to take in the sights and sea air. Throughout our day, we visited; Solva, Roch, Broad Haven, Little Haven, Dale, St Ishmael’s, Herbrandston, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Stackpole, Freshwater East, Manobier, Penally and finally back to Tenby.
Each of these beautiful places were just as unique as the next. Some had small towns with cafes and pubs awaiting the weary travellers, whilst others had just a small collection of houses that called it their home. I fell in love with the sights of the sea, the small intimate harbours and the feeling that we were the only ones who had ever visited. Driving along the coast made me feel like I could go anywhere, and the memories of listening to music like the Libertines and singing along as we drove will stay with me forever.
Despite a whole day of travelling, and many miles covered, we were back in the comfort of our bed by the evening, having visiting places we probably would never have found if we hadn’t put our maps away and enjoyed getting lost. After all, all you have to do is follow the coast and you’ll find your way back to Tenby.
So, next summer when you’re craving an adventure but haven’t got the funds to go abroad, remember that you have this beauty right on your doorstep, waiting for you to go out and discover it.