The Time Machine of Precious Pembrokeshire
By Author and Travel Writer Cara Jasmine Bradley
The maze of trees subsided as the woodland gave way. The overhead canopy of branches parted to reveal the strokes of the midday sunshine, illuminating the path underfoot. The early morning downpour was a distant memory, jewelled by giddy squeals as we had sought shelter under the entangled arms of the oak trees.
Taking my hand, the sun led me out of the woods and into the open meadow beyond. The meadow loped gently downhill, and I waded through the crystallized grass towards the base.
Suddenly, I was stunned into silence, temporarily rooted to the spot.
Quite abruptly, the meadow came to an end, revealing a dainty little cove. The sighting was so unexpected, and so tantalisingly perfect, it almost immediately defined surreal.
Truth be told, I had been blissfully encased within a veritable treasure chest all morning, but in that moment, I felt as though I had discovered the ultimate pearl within the shell.
The cove was set within the steep walls of the cliffs, with the precision and delicacy of a snow globe. The sea sparkled and shimmied against the honeycomb sand, the pallet of colours waltzing across my eye-line.
Think back to your childhood, to time spent on the beach. Recall the feeling of your first footsteps in the sand, shoes in hand. Age is an irrelevant factor when it comes to relishing in the warm recollections of this sentiment.
I stepped off the grass. My feet sank into the cool surface of the sand. One thousand tiny granules oozed between my toes; the sensation of pure nostalgia.
The breeze was harmonious and refreshing, tap dancing off the cliff-side. The air was pleasantly decorated by the tangy smell of sea air. It caressed my hair, embedding itself in-between the strands, gently lifting them from my face.
I didn’t stop walking until I found myself half way along the beach, embracing the spot where the sea met the sand.
The water washed over my ankles, a soothing sense after our long walk.
The horizon was dedicated to the periwinkle waves, moving in rhythmic strokes towards the coast. In the distance, small, white fishing boats completed the canvas of serenity.
Behind me, the rugged cliffs rose in shades of rust, topped by the tangle of startling untamed greenery. Swaying wild grasses grew knee-high and danced tantalising in the wind, the rustle of their clasped fingers creating a panoramic choir of tranquillity.
The paradise of my surroundings awakened me from within. I felt invigorated, galvanized. All thoughts of everyday life escaped my mindset as it fell solely in tune with the lyrics of my location.
I could have been anywhere in the world.
Of course, dispositions like the one I so deliciously found myself in are quite the common occurrence in Wales. The country is full of little concealed coves scattered throughout its spiralling coastline; hidden gems, intent on astonishing.
Wales is fondly referred to as God’s Country: a proud, passionate, opulent corner of the UK, famed for a vast array of patriotic staples, including riotous rugby as a religion, the noble symbol of the daffodil, and a captivating countryside and coastline combination.
And where better to humbly showcase all of Wales’ renowned splendour than Pembrokeshire? Arguably one of the most alluring spots in not just its own country, but also across the UK, Pembrokeshire has it all.
Consistently rated highly in wide-spread lists of the ‘UK’s Best Beaches,’ and the ‘Best UK Stretches of Coastlines,’ Pembrokeshire serves all that makes our little island in the sea such a desirable location to visit. Surrounded by stunning countryside, idyllic villages, and the magic of endless woodlands and forests, Pembrokeshire’s beaches behold the added bonus that they are rarely unbearably busy. With so many to choose from and stumble over, each of Pembrokeshire’s beaches will enchant in a very different way.
There are countless ways to enjoy Pembrokeshire’s stand-out coastline, and there is a beach to appeal to everyone’s requirements. There are beaches for horse-riding, beaches for dogs, beaches for water sports, and beaches for everything in-between.
The quiet, blink-and-you’d-miss-them coves are well suited to those seeking a romantic stroll – maybe even the backdrop to a phenomenal proposal!
Freshwater West Beach near Castlemartin is widely regarded for its surfing. (Side note: If you’re a Harry Potter fan, get Googling this place now!)
For family affairs and long, happy days spent splashing in and out of the waves, Tenby’s four beaches are ideal candidates. Fringed by traditional ice-cream sellers and adorable little gift shops within its jumble of charming coloured houses, Tenby is well up there with some of the most Instagram-able places in the UK.
For those seeking a one-way ticket out of the monotony of life, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a 186 mile long trail of unforgettable landscape. Pirouetting its way through the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the route starts in St. Dogmaels in the North, and ends in Amroth in the South, taking in the sights of quirky Tenby, rugged Broad Haven, and the mind-boggling beauty of quaint St David’s along the way.
A walk through history and nature in equal quantities, this world-renowned hike will evoke a new-found wonderment for Wales, charmingly pieced together by Pembrokeshire.
Whether your craving is to get stuck into some hair-raising water sports, or simply appreciate fresh fish and chips with a supreme view, Pembrokeshire has all that you are looking for, and more.
During my time in Pembrokeshire, I was fortunate enough to tick a life-long wish off my bucket list: horse riding on the beach.
Nolton Stables, possessing a picturesque location high in the hills of Haverfordwest, was the sole ingredient in making my dreams come true. Catering for all ages and abilities, Nolton Stables offer a vast range of services, from heart-stopping gallops along the beach, to scenic trundles through the surrounding woodland.
I experienced three very different rides over the course of a week, and was treated to sumptuous scenery every step of the way. On the final afternoon of our holiday, I set off on another beach ride. The weather had been relatively kind to my time spent riding thus far, however this was set to change as the clouds whispered their imminent arrival across the cliffs. The rain began to fall defiantly no sooner had we hit the sands of Druidston Haven.
The Great British weather and its ensemble of elements only enhanced the experience. The rain cascaded across the bay, explosively joining forces with the sea-spray, blanketing us as we battled against its force.
We raced the waves and outran the rain, the uprooted sand the confetti we left behind.
Our silhouetted reflection raced alongside us in the mirror-image portrait of the surface below. The walls of the cliff seemed to combust with every stride, and I yearned to gallop onwards forever.
There is something almost comforting about residing on a UK beach. The UK’s roaring coastline engulfs us within a precious time machine, whirling us all back to our childhood, and to those carefree days out on our doorstep that we took for granted. Sitting in the middle of that first beach in Pembrokeshire, I was inundated by overwhelming feelings of nostalgia and freedom. I was reminded of the simplest pleasures: collecting tiny white shells from the foamy shallows, searching for crabs and strange critters in the labyrinth of rock pools, and constructing sandcastles and witnessing the thrilling moment the sea crept closer and filled the moat around the masterpiece…
It is within these personal recollections that we recall what it felt like to fully embrace every element, every sense, as the suppression of life escapes us and is replaced by the peaceful air of effortless appreciation. An inner contentment that cannot fully be described.
Who says we need to get on an aeroplane in order to make memories and enjoy a little staple of heaven?