They say when you travel you should try something new, something different. And so for our first year wedding anniversary week, we decided to do a hiking trip in Wales, our first hike together. Being the fit and fab couple that we are (NOT!) we wanted this vacation to be a real adventure. We packed all our hiking gear, got a car rental, and set off. This is also Dexter’s first time driving in the UK on the other side of the road so the road trip alone is already an adventure.
On our first two nights we stayed in Llanelli, a town southwest of Carmarthenshire. The next three days we stayed at a barn conversion AirBnb in St Davids, Pembrokeshire. Both Dexter and myself needed a break from the busy London life and Wales proved to be the calm we’ve been looking for.
Dinas Island Circular Walk
For our first hike we wanted to cover the path from Porthgain to Abereiddi, but for some reason our sat nav got us off track. We found our way to the Information Centre in Fishguard where we gathered maps and helpful details on where and how the hikes are. After endless discussions, we agreed to do the circular walk in Dinas Island (it’s not really an island, but a peninsula) covering 3 miles in 2 hours.
We followed the route suggested in the National Trust website, which by the way is extremely helpful and user-friendly. We started from Pwllgaelod car park and set off on our first trail. There were quite a number of cars in the parking area and other groups were coming the same time as we were. But as we went along the trail, it felt like we were the only ones in the area. It never felt crowded, never felt touristy! In fact some of those hiking with us were simply walking their dogs!
What we loved about Dinas Island were the stunning views of the sea, rocky coast path, fields and fields of sheep along the way, and different kinds of birds flew above us and below us. The trail was narrow and not at all difficult to trek. We packed sandwiches for lunch and found a good spot cliffside to eat and relax. We finished the trail in 3.5 hours.
St David’s Head Coastal Walk
Since we finished Dinas Island before 3 in the afternoon (then a break for cream tea) we still had ample time and sunlight to cover St David’s Head, only 15 minutes away from our AirBnb. The route details showed we would be covering 3.8 miles in 1 hour 15 minutes, but ours turned out to be longer than that.
Starting from Whitesands car park, we went up the path and immediately were magnificent cliffside views. The trail was rocky and steep and there were too many mosquitos (or gnats?) at the initial part. But further up the path were wider grassy spaces and bushes. Instead of following the circular path, we took the alternate route to Carn Llidi.
While on a bushy path towards the mountain top, we found something very unexpected. There were six horses grazing on the grass! We were careful, in fact too careful not to disturb them but they literally blocked our way! When they saw us and possibly realised we mean trouble, they galloped towards the mountain. And as we climbed nearer to where they stood, we saw that there were more of them - more than 10! It was soooo amazing to see wild horses!
Our favourite part of St David's Head was the view from the summit of Carn Llidi. There was the sea, mountains, farms with herds of sheep and cows, and just really the farthest the eye can see. The sun was beginning to set when we reached the top. It was the most beautiful thing.
Although we were rushing to avoid being on the mountain when night falls, the effort to climb up then down and trying not to frighten the horses made this hike adventurous. Gladly we made it just in time to head back with the last remaining light.
Stackpole Wildlife Walk
The next day we did our third and final hike in Stackpole, an hour drive from St David’s. We felt that we were all warmed up and ready for a longer hiking trail as this one was meant to cover 6 miles in 4 hours. Considering the views here were by far the best, our hike was a total of 7.7 miles in 5 hours 30 minutes. Blame photography and sandwich breaks.
Few things kind of went wrong on this day. First, we parked at the wrong parking area in Stackpole Court Site, perhaps an extra 30 minute walk towards the correct car park in Stackpole Quay. Second, it was a gloomy cloudy day compared to the previous day. Weather app promised rain but thankfully it was just a quick rainshower. Third, we should’ve packed more sandwiches! Despite these minor navigation and weather issues, Stackpole proved to be beautiful and dramatic as dramatic can be.
The circular walk covered varying sceneries: farms, fields of cows, woodlands, marshes and rivers, old bridges, vast sweeping hills of grass making you think you’re in a golf course, and even sandy beaches. Stackpole made us feel we were truly along the coast, as if on the edge of the world. The cliffs gave a dramatic view, there is no other word to describe it. Just pure drama. The waves crashed loudly on the rocks and the winds were hard. Walking from one tip to the other were different views, definitely worth taking pictures of. Yet getting deep in the woodlands was a whole other world, like Middle-Earth, an outstanding natural beauty we didn't expect.
One of the memorable parts of this trip was when Dexter asked me to sit on the edge of a cliff while he ran to the other cliff so we can take pictures of each other. Little did we both know that he literally had me sit on the edge with no soil nor rock for my feet to land when I move - it was just the waters below. He kept shouting, "Don't move! Don't move!" but his muffled voice in the air thought he wanted selfies. Here's us on the edge.
Where we stayed
We rented out a barn conversion AirBnb just outside the city of St Davids, apparently the smallest city in Britain. We had the house to ourselves, with two bedrooms, one bath (heated floors!), a complete dining area, and an attic with a massive living space. It was very safe albeit I’ll admit I was scared on our first night because it was dead quiet. Looking through the windows at night was just pitch black and the silhouette of neighbouring houses. Wi-fi was very weak too so Dexter and I were forced to talk to each other on our anniversary week.
Where we ate
There won’t be intensive restaurant reviews here since we cooked our own food! There was a nearby grocery store and so we stocked our kitchen with meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus packed snacks for our hike. On our third evening we had a well-deserved dinner at a pub called The Farmers Arms.
Would we do this again?
OH YES. We only covered very, very little of Wales. There’s so much more to see in this beautiful country, there's Breacon Beacons and Snowdonia to name a few. For honeymooners and travellers looking for a great adventure of hiking, road tripping, and picture perfect locations, Wales proves to be spectacularly charming.
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