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What Is Pembrokeshire National Park?

By Rebecca Mecomber
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pembrokeshire National Park, also known as Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, is one of the crown jewels in the British national parks system. There are four total national parks in Wales, but Pembrokeshire is Britain's only national park on the coast. Pembrokeshire National Park encompasses 240 square miles (629 km²) and includes a wildly varied landscape of forests and hills, beaches cliffs and estuaries. The park is a popular destination for wildlife spectators and explorers, rock climbers, windsurfers, hikers and nature lovers.

One of the most attractive characteristics of the park is the rugged, tempestuous coastline and sparkly blue waters. Fuzzy green shoulders slope down toward the sea, exposing the rocky gray clefts and sandy beaches stretching toward the bright blue waters. Encompassing nearly all the southwest coast of the British isle, the coastline stretches for over 259 miles (418 km), overlooking the Celtic sea and St. George's Channel. The beaches are a popular hot spot for vacationers on summer holiday.

Hikers and nature lovers revel in the lush forests of the illustrious Presli Mountains, famed for producing the bluestones from which Stonehenge was forged. The gentle sloping hills, peppered with trees and aprouting stony outcrops, exude a mysterious and primeval atmosphere. The ancient Celts believed the Preslis contained an entrance to the Celtic underworld, Annwn. Visitors traverse the ancient pathways, used for thousands of years as supposedly the ancient stomping grounds of legendary King Arthur. Some of the best paths for explorers are Pentre Ifan, Gwaun Valley and Rosebush.

The Pembrokeshire National Park features one of the finest estuaries in Britain, the Daugleddau Estuary. Once the location of successful anthracite mines and Norman castle embankments, the estuary waterway provides exceptional trails. Visitors enjoy viewing the inland waterfowl and mammals, exploring the secret coves, and visiting the ancient Carew and Picton Castles.

Pembrokeshire National Park offers something for every outdoor enthusiast. Water activities include surfing, kayaking, fishing, sailing and other sports. Wildlife enthusiasts enjoy birdwatching, as Pembrokeshire National Park is one of the finest British parks for viewing migrating and wintering seabirds and waterbirds. The park maintains trails and paths for hiking, cycling, horse riding, rock climbing and simple relaxing strolls along the coast or across prehistoric forests and lush landscapes.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, established in 1952, manages the park. They encourage those visiting Pembrokeshire National Park to enjoy the park while maintaining a respect for the natural beauty and unspoiled environment. Pembrokeshire National Park is open year round and offers a rotating schedule of various activities.

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Discussion Comments
By Sara007 — On Dec 22, 2011

My family and I had a chance to visit Pembrokeshire National Park while we were visiting family and there are some amazing places for picnics if you know where to look. Broadhaven South and Manorbier offer some beautiful beaches with calm waters and lovely scenery. The areas are easy to reach so you can certainly make a day trip of it if you want to settle in for a few hours and enjoy the sea breeze.

We also loved visiting Carew Castle which is an ideal spot for photographs. It was really something seeing a real castle against such a lovely backdrop.

By wander — On Dec 22, 2011

@drtroubles - I ended up in Pembrokeshire National Park a little while ago with some friends and one of them was a bird enthusiast. If you have some spare time you should see if you can spot some kylarks, merlin, grouse and curlew, which are all plentiful in the park.

There are some excellent guides available online and from the tourism agencies in Britain that can provide maps of the best areas to go birding in and that will tell you the best season for seeing certain species. We really liked seeing the curlews walking in the water. I have always thought the long-legged birds were especially photogenic.

By drtroubles — On Dec 21, 2011

My wife and I are going to be in Britain and I am interested in visiting Pembrokeshire National Park. Does anyone know what some of the popular bird species are in the park?

I am a beginner bird watcher and while my wife is interested in the famous scenery of the park I would love to get in some birding. I just got a new camera with a pretty impressive telephoto lens so I can imagine that I can get in some really great photos while we walk around the park. I have heard that some of the trails are really something else.

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