199 Little Haven to Newgale

Little Haven looks different this morning. The tide is out. Good. That means I should be able to walk along the beach to Broad Haven, thus cutting out a mile or so of road-walking.

01 Little Haven, Ruth walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Beyond the narrow strip of Little Haven is a wider beach, called The Settlands. It seems only accessible at low tide and is deserted except for a family with a kayak. The young teenage boy refuses to allow his mother onto the kayak with him. She shrugs her shoulders and walks off looking hurt and angry.

At the end of Settlands beach I come across a barrier. It’s an outcrop of rocks with waves washing around its base – and I can’t see a way of getting through to Broad Haven.

With an hour to go until low tide, I waste a bit of time taking photographs and even manage a self-portrait. Here I stand, like King Canute in reverse, willing the sea to recede.

02 waiting for low tide, Ruth Livingstone, Settlands

Only half an hour until low tide now, and still no dry sand to walk on. Perhaps this is as low as the water gets? How far is it to Broad Haven anyway?

Then two girls come striding along the beach. They wade around the edge of the rocks and disappear. I wait to see if they come back, but they seem to have made it through without a problem.

03 wading to Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire Coast

My reluctance to paddle is not due to any fear of water, but I am worried about continuing today’s walk with sandy feet. I already have a small blister on the outside of my big toe (a common site for me). And I don’t want any more.

I can’t decide what to do: either I take off my footwear and wade, or I turn back and walk along the road. Hmmm… If I spend too long dithering, the tide will rise again, cutting off this beach from Little Haven, and then I’ll have to wade anyway!

Off come the boots. Off come the socks. The sea is cold but very refreshing. I realise I’ve walked along many beaches on my coastal trek, but always wearing shoes or boots and I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to walk in bare feet, with the feel of soft sand beneath my soles and the tug of gentle waves around my ankles.

Broad Haven is just ahead.

04 Broad Haven beach, Ruth walking the coast in Wales

I wash my feet clear of sand in one of the rock pools, and use my jumper as a towel. It’s awkward balancing as I put my socks back on, and then my boots, but I manage it without getting covered in sand again.

05 drying feet, Ruth's coastal walk, Wales

I spend some time walking along the beach and climbing among the rocks on the far side of Broad Haven. It’s a pretty and popular place, dotted with families enjoying their summer holiday.

From Broad Haven, the path climbs up to the top of the cliffs and continues onwards. I take a photo looking down at this family group, who are taking a photograph of themselves among the rocks.

06 looking down on Broad Haven Beach, Ruth on Pembrokeshire Coast Path

The next section of path is easy – a gentle stroll in bright light above a blue sea. St Brides Bay is a beautiful place and today there is no haze to spoil the view. The rocks below me have delicious names: Den’s Door, Sleek Stone, Black Point, Settling Nose, Ladder rock.

07 cliff top St Brides Bay, Ruth hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

Two or three miles further along is the next beach. Druidston Haven. (Every cove around St Brides seems to be a ‘Haven’.) Down goes the path, almost to the sand, and over a stream, and then up a very steep slope on the other side, where steps have been placed to ease the climb.

Druidston Haven, St Brides Bay, Ruth's coastal walk in Wales

I meet several people walking along this section, both casual strollers and some serious walkers with backpack. In fact, this week is the busiest I’ve ever seen the coastal path – although it’s not exactly crowded!

09 Walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Ruth Livingstone

The next beach is Nolton Haven. It’s another narrow inlet with rolling waves, making it a great place for surf boards if the waves were high enough, I would imagine. Today it’s filled with body-boarders.

10 Nolton Haven, Ruth walking in Pembrokeshire

Beyond Nolton Haven and the path winds through a more rugged landscape, following the slope of the cliffs. The prominent rock is called Rickets Head.

11 Rickets Head, Ruth hiking in Wales

Coming around the headland and I get a great view along a stretch of sand. This is Newgale Beach.

12 Newgale Sands, Ruth hiking the coast in Wales

I was anticipating a long walk down the 2 miles of beach, but the path down to the sands is closed. A sign warns of rock falls.

13 path down to beach closed, Ruth Livingstone, Newgale

So I must stick to the top of the cliff instead. I walk past an old brick chimney, the remains of a colliery which extended under the sea and was closed over 100 years ago. My feet crunch on fine black pebbles. Coal?

The path begins to slope gently downwards as the cliffs drop towards the north end of the beach and give way to a shingle bank.

14 along cliff, Newgale, Ruth hiking the coastal path, Wales

I was planning to walk a little further, but the weather is so warm – and the view so inviting – I sit myself down on the grass and have a drink and a snack. Half and hour passes before I decide I must get going again.

15 Newgale Beach, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast, Pembrokeshire

I come down onto the shingle bank at the top of the beach. I assumed this was artificially created as a barrier against flooding, but later I learn the bank is entirely natural. There is an excellent article about the area on Countryfile.

As I walk along the beach, the tide begins to come in at a pace. Holiday makers are forced to retreat and must squash themselves into the available space at the top of the sand.

 Newgale beach in late afternoon

I lie down on the shingle – using my backpack as a cushion – and relax in the sun. After a few minutes I will carry on, I tell myself…

Some time later I wake up. It’s 4pm and still warm, despite a fierce breeze blowing off the land behind me. The sandy part of the beach has entirely disappeared under the waves. Most people have gone home. Only a few families remain and, like me, are sitting on the shingle. A group of teenagers arrive, carrying towels and boards. ‘Where’s the beach gone?’ they ask each other.

I feel intensely relaxed and happy. I could continue further if I wanted to, but at this point – when everything seems so perfect – I decide to end my walk for the day.

Miles walked today = 8.5 miles.
Total along Wales Coast Path = 428 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,035 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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18 Responses to 199 Little Haven to Newgale

  1. Alan Palin says:

    Hi Ruth, great to see you are making progress up the Welsh Coast. I am afraid this section is quite a distant memory April 2002. Just back from a quick one day trip through Llandudno and around the Great Orme to arrive in Conwy. Great views across to Anglesey which I should be on in couple of one-day trips. This section of the coast is quite accessible from Shropshire with the A55 close-by at Chester. I have a colourful schematic (in pdf format) of the complete bus routes on Anglesey, which should be very helpful to us both. I cannot seem to include a copy of this within this page.

  2. I always carry a small facecloth in my daypack. It makes a great impromptu towel if I fancy a paddle or get caught out in an unexpected downpour.

  3. Zillah Holliday says:

    Little Haven & Broad Haven were the 2 lovely little coves I had forgotten the name of, when we had our holiday in Solva. Newgale beach the large one with the rollers. AND there was always a gale blowing when we drove past it. We walked once over the shingle down to the sand . Was it cold! Low 60’s + a wind chill factor? Everywhere in England was in the 80’sF.

    I think you should paddle your feet in the sea at least once a day, it’s so refreshing and the salt water is so healing for your blisters. A small hand (foot!) towel in your rucksac would take up very little room. Good luck and thank you for such an enjoyable “blog”

  4. It’s such a lovely area. And I was very lucky to have good weather when the rest of the UK had clouds and rain! And yes, I agree with the paddling advice.

  5. I wouldn’t dare to put a photo of my feet in the public domain.

    • That foot actually looks better in the photo than in reality! I only have two ‘normal’ toenails left, and one of them is sporting a massive sub-nail bruise, so I might be down to one soon 🙂

  6. Alan Palin says:

    Hi Ruth, hope this helps


    Off to tomorrow to do a day trip covering Conwy to Bangor circa18 miles of fairly flat walking. Looking forward to seeing bangor

  7. Marie Keates says:

    Paddling and sleeping on the beach, what a great day! Sometimes I think I get so caught up in the walking I forget about the stopping and enjoying.

  8. John says:

    If you fall asleep on the beach you have to make sure it is above high water.

  9. bakerbalham says:

    Thanks for writing about this. It is a lovely section of the coast path and on a day such as you had, it is a true delight. Lovely photos too.

  10. Karen White says:

    Newgale beach looks lovely, one to remember if I visit Pembrokeshire again.

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