Top 6 days out amongst Britain's ancient ruins
Dave Hamilton, author of Wild Ruins BC, the Explorer’s Guide to Britain’s Ancient Sites, tells us about some of his favourite days out amongst the stones and earthworks of pre-Roman Britain.
Britain’s only coastal National Park, Pembrokeshire is home to rich golden sands, stunning coastal countryside and, of course, many picturesque coastal towns and quaint seaside villages.
Set within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, St Davids Peninsula boasts some of the most impressive coastal scenery in Pembrokeshire, so it’s certainly worth a visit. With its colourful history and stunning surroundings, it’s not surprising that this quaint coastal city is one of the Pembrokeshire National Park’s most popular spots.
Named after the patron saint of Wales, St Davids history can be traced back to the 4th century when it was said to be home to Saint David himself. Due to its close proximity to the sea, St Davids was vulnerable to Viking attacks and many of the city’s older structures were destroyed by the invaders.
The city was designated as a conservation area by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in 1972 and was awarded city status in 1995, when it became the smallest city in Britain, with just 1,600 inhabitants.
Unsurprisingly, St Davids is a prime spot for walking with the Pembrokeshire Coast Path running right around the unique city.
If wildlife is more your thing, why not book on one of the many wildlife watching boat trips that take place around the St Davids coast? During the summer months, you can even enjoy whale and dolphin watching trips. Between April and October, from the Ramsey Island RSPB nature reserve, you’ll also be able to watch nesting seabirds such as guillemots and razorbills.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, there are plenty of outdoor adventure activities offered around the St Davids coastline, including coasteering, sea kayaking, climbing, and surfing. Just two miles west of St Davids, you’ll also find Whitesands Bay – the best surfing beach in Pembrokeshire and one of the most highly-rated tourist beaches in the world.
One of this tiny city’s best historical attractions is St Davids Cathedral. Built from beautiful pink and grey local stone, the Cathedral sits in the valley floor just below the city. During the 12th Century, a shrine was constructed close to the High Alter in the Cathedral. At the time, Pope Calixtus II stated that the shrine was so important that two pilgrimages to the site was equivalent to one pilgrimage to Rome.
Bishops Palace, located right next to the Cathedral, is also a must-visit. Dating back to the 13th century this was once a grand residency. The palace fell victim to the reformation and today only its ruins remain.
Other key things to see include the 14th Century Tower Gate, the Celtic Old Cross and a whole host of art galleries.
St Davids is well served by public transport. If you’re travelling by train, the nearest stations are Fishguard or Haverfordwest. From these stations, you can then catch a bus service to St Davids.
You can also catch the Puffin Shuttle, which runs around St Brides Bay, or the Strumble Shuttle, which connects various points on the coast between St Davids and Fishguard.