Wild swimming on the Welsh coast

pembrokeshire map 2

Every year since the age of about eight, I have come to the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire to camp, hike and explore with my family. This little peninsula of the United Kingdom is barely 20 miles from top to bottom, yet it boasts a coastline of over 180 miles.20390529710_d5da32c6ed_kL0orRKsJx3brl4u29L9uviwU8eYAF3KJrpDjIez8POwseals are a common sight around the Pembrokeshire peninsula.

seals are a common sight around the Pembrokeshire peninsula.

Pembrokeshire is also a bucolic paradise, with acres of rolling green farmland. The fields are full of hay bales and silage right to the cliff edge; agriculture sits side by side with the Celtic Sea.

Pembrokeshire is also a bucolic paradise, with acres of rolling green farmland. The fields are full of hay bales and silage right to the cliff edge; agriculture sits side by side with the Celtic Sea.

It’s scattered with sandy beaches like Whitesands and Barafundle Bay, rugged paths tracing the cliffs’ edge, and charming seaside villages like Tenby and Fishguard, their painted houses sparkling on the shore.

Pembrokeshire is also home to the best fish and chips in the world, Fecci’s, and has even been used as a backdrop to the Harry Potter films.

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Tenby
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Tenby
Barafundle Bay. One must walk across the cliffs for about twenty minutes to reach the beach
Skrinkle Haven [left] and Church Doors [right] - two amazing beaches near Manorbier on the southern part of the peninsula
Skrinkle Haven [left] and Church Doors [right] – two amazing beaches near Manorbier on the southern part of the peninsula. Skrinkle can be accessed only via Church Doors, by squeezing through a hole in the cliff which divides them at low tide.
the chink in the cliff which leads from Church Doors to Skrinkle Haven, accessible only at low tide.
the chink in the cliff which leads from Church Doors to Skrinkle Haven, accessible only at low tide.

Unsurprisingly, Pembrokeshire is a gift for wild swimmers, with plenty of pocket beaches to explore (and they’re often deserted). One of my favourites is the Blue Lagoon, a spectacular alcove of freezing azure seawater nestled on the gorgeous coast between tiny maritime village, Porth Gain, and St. David’s, one of the smallest cities in Europe with a population of just 1,800 and an impressive cathedral.

pembrokeshire map
rough location of the Blue Lagoon

Over the years the Blue Lagoon has become increasingly bustling, with a range of different activities taking place here – people come to cliff jump, kayak and, if they’re brave, swim. It’s damn cold, but it’s a brilliant location for it.

It’s also played host to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, with its jagged cliffs, deep waters and great viewing platform in the form of a big outcrop of rock providing the ideal location for such an event.

the Blue Lagoon
the Blue Lagoon

DSC03253 DSC03238DSC03240DSC03246 DSC03236This underrated part of the United Kingdom – and the generally underrated country of Wales – are nonetheless getting more popular with tourists from our neighbouring European countries. Each year we meet families from the Netherlands, Germany and even France, and it seems to be getting busier each year.

While part of me wants this place to stay secret, I’m also really happy to see it garnering some outside affection. May it stay as charming as it has been for me throughout childhood, while finally giving Cymru the kudos it deserves.

 

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