The county of Pembrokeshire is a walker’s paradise. Home to the only national park within Britain that is primarily designated for its coastal landscape, it’s a place of remarkable natural beauty. You’ll find golden beaches, tucked-away coves, woodland-flanked estuaries, towering sea cliffs, hundreds of islands of all sizes and a sea that can change from a mediterranean blue one day to a white frenzy the next.
The best walks in Pembrokeshire aren’t just found on the coast however. There’s beauty to be found inland as well, particularly within the Preseli Hills, where the wild upland, neolithic sites to uncover and views of the county’s three coastlines make for some epic hillwalking country.
Undoubtedly the best way to explore Pembrokeshire’s coast is via the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a long-distance trail that winds its way around this ‘peninsula of a thousand peninsulas’, running 186 miles from Amroth on the south coast to Cardigan over on the northern side.
Not quite down for at least two weeks of continuous walking? Don’t worry, you could just explore each side of the national park using the excellent coastal path shuttle buses that Pembrokeshire council operate. These are all super regular in the summer – when there’s no pandemic going on, that is.
Walking Holidays In Pembrokeshire: Where To Stay
There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in Pembrokeshire. First of all, there are campsites galore here with popular spots including Whitesands Camping in St David’s, Newgale Camping near Haverfordwest and Gupton Farm by Freshwater West. If you prefer a solid roof over your head, you’ll find many a cosy tucked away cottage on accommodation websites like westwalesholidaycottages.co.uk and, of course, Airbnb. Looking for a basecamp in a town? Newport, Fishguard, Tenby and St David’s are good places to start your search but there are plenty more options throughout the national park and further within the county too.
Best Walks In Pembrokeshire: The Top 10
The routes below are all mapped out on komoot ready to be followed on the komoot app. If you’re new to komoot, for a free regional bundle (worth £8.99) simply follow this link to komoot.com and create your free account today.
- Mynydd Carningli
- St David’s Peninsula
- Foel Cwmcerwyn and The Preseli Hills
- Strumble Head Circular
- Abereiddy Circular
- Caldey Island
- Saundersfoot Beach to Tenby Beach
- Dale Circular
- The Stackpole Estate
- Marloes Peninsula Circular
All the walks in this list have been chosen by Will Renwick and Stephen Jones. Will, who’s president of Ramblers Cymru and editor of this very website, has close ties to north Pembrokeshire, particularly the town of Newport. Staff Writer Stephen, on the other hand, was born and raised in Tenby and therefore knows all of the secrets of south Pembrokeshire.
Together Will and Stephen have forged a north-south alliance to bring you the best walks in Pembrokeshire. They think it will act as the perfect guide to walking on Wales’s paradisiacal Pembrokeshire coast and the stunning interior of the county as well.
Walk 1: Mynydd Carningli
Carningli Mountain isn’t actually a mountain, far from it actually if you consider the fact it’s 264m off meeting the 609m qualifier. It’s still fair to say, however, that this hill has the look and feel of a fully fledged mountain. A craggy, boulder-piled summit, a darkened north face, vast moorland surroundings and a general air of wildness, you could plonk this peak in Snowdonia and it would fit right in with the locals.
Related: Best Walks In Snowdonia
As well as that pocket rocket charm, another likeable aspect of this hill-mountain is its setting. It perches right alongside the edge of Cardigan Bay, leaning over a glorious stretch of Welsh coastline.
This walk starts in Newport, a little town with some excellent pubs, the quaintist of cottages imaginable and a wide beach at the mouth of a wildlife-rich estuary. It then heads straight uphill onto Carningli Mountain and its moorland to take in the coast and country views then drops down to seek out Cwm yr Eglwys, a little cove that’s home to the picturesque ruins of a church that was destroyed in the nineteenth century by a vicious storm. The route then returns back to Newport via a sawtoothed section of coastline, riding high along the clifftops.
Walk 2: St David’s Peninsula
Protected by both the National Trust and Pembrokeshire National Park Authority, this part of the Pembrokeshire coast, particularly the strait between Ramsey Island and the mainland, is a real haven for coastal creatures. You’d be very unlucky to come away from a walk here without spotting something exciting, with dolphins, porpoises, seals, puffins, razorbills and plenty more all regular visitors to the area.
The route starts at St David’s, a cathedral city that’s actually smaller than most market towns. After leaving the city, the route follows a glorious stretch of Pembrokeshire’s coastline, visiting tucked away coves along the way – including the photogenic lifeboat house at St Justinian’s. It then stops by at the popular surf spot of Whitesands beach. You’ll eventually finish up back in the bright lights of the small city, where, if you still have some energy, it’s worth having a look around the cathedral and the ruins of the adjacent monastery. If you don’t have energy, well, there are plenty of pubs to reload in.
Walk 3: Preseli Hills
Ah, the wild and wonderful Preseli Hills. Home to some excellent time-forgotten pubs, walking trails you’ll have all to yourself, and the original site of Stonehenge. That’s right, not only were the famous stones originally quarried from these hills, but recent evidence suggests that they stood in some kind of formation here before being transported, somehow, to Salisbury Plain. There are plenty of other neolithic relics to be found here too, with burial chambers and standing stones abounding in every direction. There’s even a path along the hilltops, known as the Golden Road, which is believed to have been part of a ‘trade superhighway’ on which gold mined in Ireland was carried to the southeast of England.
The route starts in the outpost-like village of Rosebush and will get your legs working immediately, taking you high up to the top of Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highest point in the Preseli Hills. From here, on a good clear day you might be able to see as far as Snowdon, Lundy Island at the mouth of the Bristol Channel and even the Wicklow mountains in Ireland. The route then links up with a stretch of the aforementioned Golden Road, taking you along the wide, grassy ridgeline before cutting back to Rosebush with a descent through forestry. You can then finish up at the Zinc Tafarn, a community-owned pub that’s one of the last few sawdust-on-the-floor types of places you’ll find in Wales, perhaps even Britain.
Walk 4: Strumble Head Circular
There’s some excellent coastal walking to be had around Strumble Head and the Pencaer Peninsula. You’ll see towering sea cliffs, wave-torn mini islands beyond a boulder-filled shoreline, a whitewashed lighthouse with its suspension bridge and then the ‘mini mountain’ of Garn Fawr.
The summit of Garn Fawr makes for the highest point of this route which circumnavigates the peninsula’s jagged coastline. You can tailor things to suit the distance you’d want to take on but if you’re up for a fairly big day out it’s worth following the coast right round as far as Carregwastad Point. It’s here that you’ll find the place where in 1797 a French army landed before eventually being successfully repelled in what is now referred to as the last invasion of Britain. Local legend has it that it was a group of local women who led the defence, armed only with pitchforks.
Bring some binoculars on this walk as there’s plenty of coastal life to scout out. At certain times of year the area is visited by all kinds of birdlife, including soft plumage petrels, shearwaters, razorbills and puffins.
Walk 5: Abereiddy Circular
You’ll know you’re near the blue lagoon just from the sounds you’ll hear as you approach it. At nearly any time of year, there are shrieks and splashes echoing as people dare themselves to take the leap from the old quarry ruins into the amazingly turquoise waters below. Once a year, the eyes of the world in fact turn to the secluded bay here for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships, where competitors from 18 different nations plunge from a staggering height of 28m.
As well as stopping by at this spot, this circular route visits Porthgain, one of Pembrokeshire’s most quintessential seaside harbour villages and home to one of the finest pubs in the county, the Sloop. Then there’s Traeth Llyfn, a sandy beach wrapped right around by tall cliffs. Only accessed on foot, and at least a kilometre from the nearest space to park, it’s the kind of beach that you’ll never have to share with a crowd.