#207 – Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Part 2 – Wooltack Point and Marloes

Musselwick Sands near Marloes

Musselwick Sands near Marloes

The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path around St Ann’s Head (see post #206) had been a good day out, so good in fact that this mountain man was ready for another bit of coast the next day.    Repeating the winning formula, we went for another circular route, made possible by leaving the path, then re-joining it for the return leg after visiting the local pub  – it’s good to have a plan!

Marloes route (in blue) and St Ann’s Head route (in red – post #206)

Marloes route (in blue) and St Ann’s Head route (in red – post #206)

Wooltack Point and Marloes route

Wooltack Point and Marloes route

Setting out at Wooltack Point

Setting out at Wooltack Point

Old Coastguard lookout station at Wooltack Point

Old Coastguard lookout station at Wooltack Point

A room with a view

A room with a view

Border Collie ‘Mist’ having a good time

Border Collie ‘Mist’ having a good time

We joined the Coastal Path at Wooltack Point, near the tiny harbour of Martin’s Haven, but briefly left the path to go out to the headland via the old coastguard lookout station.  The view out to the islands was great, and we also had a good preview of our first bit of coast.

Back on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Back on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Natural rock archway created by the waves

Natural rock archway created by the waves

‘Rainy Rock’ on a non-rainy day

‘Rainy Rock’ on a non-rainy day

Striding out along the cliff tops

Striding out along the cliff tops

One characteristic of walking along coastal paths is the amount of ‘up and down’ that takes place – because of this, coastal walking is rarely an easy option, as every stream heading to the sea usually results in a plunging valley where height is lost then regained.    This wasn’t the case for most of this route, resulting in an easy, level path – I found myself thinking that I could get used to this sort of thing.

First view of Gateholm Island

First view of Gateholm Island

The first notable point along the way was the unmistakable outline of Gateholm Island.  Despite the name, it’s possible to cross the narrow gap between island and mainland at low water – what’s more, the intrepid can take an easy rock-climbing route to gain the flat plateau, which is about ten acres in area.

Looking out to Gateholm from the Coastal Path ….

Looking out to Gateholm from the Coastal Path ….

…. and the view looking back to Gateholm

…. and the view looking back to Gateholm

At one time the island contained about 130 roundhouses built at the time of the Roman Occupation, but the island continued to be used after the Romans left, and may well have been the site of an early Celtic Christian settlement.    It was interesting enough to tempt BBC archaeologists to film there in 2012 for the ‘Time Team’ program, but they used a cableway to get on to the island – the previous residents in Roman times probably found the rock route a bit awkward when popping out to the local Tesco.

First view of Marloes Sands

First view of Marloes Sands

The easy way to the beach for the tourists

The easy way to the beach for the tourists

Looking back towards the Coastal Path

Looking back towards the Coastal Path

Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands

Beyond the island, we had our first view of Marloes Sands.    On a coastline full of unspoilt sandy beaches, this was the jewel in the crown.    There is an approach for the tourists which involves a half-mile walk in, losing almost 50 metres in height.    This is a sufficient deterrent to keep the truly idle away, and even on a warm, sunny day the 1.5 kilometre stretch of sand is big enough to absorb crowds without actually getting crowded – there are no ice cream vans though!

Marloes Sands

Marloes Sands

We carried on along the cliff tops, gradually moving beyond Marloes Sands, before it was time to abandon the coast for a while and to head for the disused WW2 airfield that was once RNAS (Royal Naval Air Station) Dale, or to use its more nautical name, HMS Goldcrest.   Although used by the RAF and the Royal Navy for flying operations, the airfield was also the setting for an idea that was bonkers or ingenious, depending on your point of view.

Walls Ice Cream tricycle

Walls Ice Cream tricycle

Adapted for radar training

Adapted for radar training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dale airfield 2016, previously known as RNAS Dale or HMS Goldcrest

Dale airfield 2016, previously known as RNAS Dale or HMS Goldcrest

Early in WW2, the shortage of aircraft made it difficult to allocate resources to train Fighter Direction Officers (FDO’s).   This problem was overcome by commandeering tricycles from Walls Ice Cream, and using them to simulate aircraft.  One trike representing an enemy aircraft was pedalled in time to a metronome, with the course triangulated and reported to a dummy Fighter Direction Office.   A second trike representing a fighter was vectored to the ‘enemy’ trike by the trainee FDO using radio.   It sounds like something out of Monty Python, but it worked

The clock tower in Marloes village ….

The clock tower in Marloes village ….

…. but the Lobster Pot Inn was far more interesting

…. but the Lobster Pot Inn was far more interesting

The old airfield is now largely overgrown, but the old perimeter track gave us a good access route to the nearby village of Marloes.    The attractive clock tower was built in 1904 in memory of someone rich, ‘knobby’ and famous – far more interesting to me was the nearby Lobster Pot Inn, where there was even a welcome for Border Collie ‘Mist’.

Heading back out to the Coastal Path

Heading back out to the Coastal Path

Musselwick Sands

Musselwick Sands

The route back – along the cliff tops

The route back – along the cliff tops

After a cheeky little cider, it was back to the coast, heading for our start point at Martin’s Haven.    As well as marking our start point, the tiny harbour is also the start point for boat visits to nearby Skomer Island, which, judging by the number of boat crossings, must be a popular destination in summer.    I was happy enough just taking in the sea and the cliffs – with all that and a cider included, I could take to this coast walking lark!

The tiny harbour of Martin’s Haven

The tiny harbour of Martin’s Haven

Journeys end – ancient Celtic cross at Martin’s Haven

Journeys end – ancient Celtic cross at Martin’s Haven

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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5 Responses to #207 – Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Part 2 – Wooltack Point and Marloes

  1. That looks superb – Richard is really fancying Pembrokeshire and I have to say I agree with him looking at that. Always nice to have a pub en-route in summer – especially on such a nice-looking round.

    I used to work with a lot of Fighter Controllers (as they are now known) when I was a radar Op in the Hebs…
    Carol.

  2. Mark Kelly says:

    Great scenery. And I love the bonkers (but effective) use of the trikes.

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