Why Pembrokeshire Has The Best Beaches In The UK
Updated: Feb 2
As a landscape photographer, I get to visit a lot of beaches in all sorts of weathers and conditions. There are a number of standout beaches for me, and it is no coincidence that quite a number of those are in the fabulous county of Pembrokeshire in West Wales.
I am sharing four of my favourite Pembrokeshire beaches, with an image to whet your appetite and some location details.
This is a fantastic beach! The Daily Telegraph named it as one of the Top Twenty beaches in the UK in 2017, and in 2016, The Guardian named it as one of Top Fifty beaches in the world!
Marloes Sands can be found near the village of Marloes in west Pembrokeshire. Park in the National Trust car park just before you reach Martin’s Haven (from where the boats to Skomer Island, depart).
It’s a good 20 minute walk to get to the beach, but well worth it. Check tide times before visiting as at high tide there is very little beach at all. This image was taken on a September evening.
I was attracted by the jagged rocks and the seaweed in the rock pool. I set the tripod up very low and used a very wide angle lens to get as much of the scene, as possible, in. As I was setting up, the clouds broke, sending shafts of golden light on to Gateholm Island, in the distance.
Newgale really marks the dividing line between the soft rolling, English speaking south of Pembrokeshire, with the far more rugged and elemental, and Welsh speaking, north Pembrokeshire. It is also Pembrokeshire’s longest beach at around 2 miles, and has been awarded the Blue Flag for meeting stringent cleanliness standards.
The Met Ofﬁce were forecasting bands of storm showers rolling in on high winds on this particular January day.
On the basis of this, I planned a photography trip to Newgale, and said a private prayer to the Met Ofﬁce when their forecast turned out to be correct! On arrival, I left the camera in the car, and had a scout around for a half an hour looking for a good composition.
During this time I had to ignore the wind, rain, hail and rainbows that were coming from all directions! Satisﬁed with this elevated position at the side of the lane, looking south towards Rickets Head in the distance, I got my camera, scrambled up the 8 foot high bank, through brambles, thistles and gorse. I stood there for an hour or so, getting the soaking of my life.
In between the storms the light was just fantastic, and the rain pouring down the lane gave it a wonderful, contrasty sheen.
Traeth Llyfn was named as one of the Top Twenty secret beaches in the UK, by The Daily Telegraph, in 2017. Situated between Porthgain and Abereiddy in north Pembrokeshire, it is off the beaten track. As such, it is often very sparsely populated or even deserted, even in the height of the Summer.
The walk from Abereiddy to Porthgain (or vice versa!) was named by The Guardian as one of The Top 10 UK walks, in 2010. I recommend parking at Porthgain, doing a circular walk of 4 miles, and then rewarding yourself with a few pints in The Sloop back at Porthgain!
If you want to go down on to the beach, be prepared to negotiate a set of steep metal steps down the cliff face. When I visited Traeth Llyfn to photograph it on this May evening, I had the beach totally to myself.
The dipping sun illuminated the cliff face to the left, and the rock pool, with its vibrant green seaweed, provided a real focus point in the foreground. This image is taken, looking south, and the watchtower at Abereiddy can be seen on the headland in the distance.
Barafundle Bay is on the Stackpole Estate in south Pembrokeshire. It used to be the private beach of the Cawdor family, but is now owned by the National Trust, along with the rest of the estate.
Park in the car park at Stackpole Quay. From there, it is a 20 minute walk to the beach. the path along the cliff top itself is relatively ﬂat, but there are steps from the car park area, and steps down to the beach, so it’s not really suitable for pushchairs.
Barafundle was named as one of the Top Twenty Five beaches in the world by Passport Magazine, and was reported in the Daily Express in January 2017. It really is a lovely beach, even on a cold February dawn when I took this image.
I arrived and walked along the cliff top in darkness, and set everything up to wait. The colours, before the sun actually rose, were quite subtle, but also vibrant, and the beach totally deserted. In fact I didn’t see a single person until much later.