If you like walks that include wild woodland and unspoilt beaches then make your way Abermawr and Aberbach in a remote corner of north Pembrokeshire to discover an enchanting and little-known gem.
With very limited parking and no facilities, the beaches of Abermawr and Aberbach are never crowded and remain utterly unspoilt. You’re more likely to discover these wild coves from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park path than in a car. Things could have been very different if it had not been for the shortage of labourers after the Irish potato famine in the mid 19th century as Abermawr was Brunel’s original choice for a harbour to serve the railways. Work was abandoned on the railway cuttings near Treffgarne and a port later developed at Fishguard.
There have been some other famous moments for this remote spot – the telegraph cable that crosses the seabed across to Ireland was installed here and you can now stay in the Cable Hut (between the two coves) which was converted into luxurious holiday accommodation. Smugglers have used the sheltered access to the shore for many centuries, even as recently as a drugs haul which was thwarted in 1983.
The rugged coast is a good place to spot seals and to enjoy some of Pembrokeshire’s most stunning seascapes. One afternoon in early September we spotted several seals close to the shore, but we could see a much larger creature with a large head, further out – not a seal, for sure. Some bystanders on holiday from Scotland trained their binoculars and identified a “fin” – a few days later the Goodwick Sea Centre confirmed that a Basking Shark had been spotted just offshore!
Surfing is good in the swells and this NW facing beach is ideal if you crave some solitude.
Abermawr’s pebble bank was created by a storm in 1959 and at low tide 8000 year old tree stumps are uncovered in the sand – these were preserved under an ice sheet. The earth cliffs lead down to the pebbles and then golden sand at low tide. Just inland is Preseli Venture who have a live webcam telephoto view of the beach on their website. For geologists this area is of great significance to see the impact of the Ice Age.
Both beaches are good places to see seals and during this last winter’s storms several pups became stranded too high up the bank to return to the sea, so the Welsh Marine Rescue Service came to the rescue – if you think a seal may be in distress, then contact this team – do not try to move a seal pup yourself.
Behind the beaches of Abermawr and Aberbach is an area of Special Scientific Interest with marshland teeming with wildlife and the most enchanting woodland I have ever come across. The bluebells and other wildflowers are simply breathtaking in the spring. There are many paths to explore through the woods, across the meadows and along the coast path. The highest path through the woodland is quite a scramble, but look out carefully when you start to hear the sea as you will suddenly come across a gap in the undergrowth and espy the wild beauty of the beach, below – truly a place to imagine pirates and adventurers.
Anyone exploring this location will have had a bit of a walk so, after your trek, why not enjoy some good local food at the Farmers Arms in nearby Mathry, or an afternoon tea or snack at Siop Fach, also in the village. You can walk through the lanes to Tregwynt Woollen Mill, which is also well worth a visit.
For dog lovers, there is usually the chance to let your dog have a great run and a splash. My Collie, Cwtch, loves this walk with sticks, muddy paths and surf to play in and a swim in a freshwater pond to clean off afterwards! You can approach both beaches of Abermawr and Aberbach from the coast path or there is limited parking at both, or a lovely woodland walk from nearby lanes.