A family favourite.
Half way along St. Bride’s bay is the tiny hamlet and cove of Nolton Haven – the picturesque beach nestled between two craggy headlands belies its industrial history. This was the centre for coal mining in the area and large vessels would beach here for the coal to be loaded from carts and horses. The horses that enjoy the waves today are from the nearby riding stables and the children exploring the rock pools and enjoying the sand would find it hard to believe that 150 years ago their peers were working in mines that went under the sea – teenagers were especially useful as big enough to work hard, yet still small enough for the narrow tunnels.
The first mining began in medieval times and continued until 1905, by which time it was mainly for anthracite. Walkers along the coast path will come across the mine chimneys, such as Trefarne Cliff Colliery and one of the main buildings in Nolton Haven is The Counting House, where export trading took place.
Mining was abandoned here due to the difficulties of extracting the coal from under the sea and 230 million tonnes remains underground in St. Bride’s Bay.
A tiny chapel remains on the cliff edge – the most westerly place of worship in Wales.
Those most interested in the rock formations now are geologists and fossil hunters. Igneous boulders dragged here during the ice Age are scattered on the beach.
Look out for the profile hewn by the sea in the cliff face – said to resemble Churchill!
The beach here is popular with families and there is ample holiday accommodation nearby as well as a pub and the cleanest public conveniences I have ever come across – whoever looks after this should get a pay rise!
I have many happy memories of time on Nolton Haven beach – my children finding starfish, swimming on a calm warm day when the tide was in, making sandcastles decorated with icicles one February and my daughter standing on top of a giant castle made one August evening by everyone on the beach – all staying to see the tide destroy it as the sun set…