The lovely Swan Inn at Littlehaven, in Pembrokeshire, sits just above the beach

Dennis Kelsall reveals his favourite (mainly coastal) pubs in Pembrokeshire

PEMBROKESHIRE, IN SOUTH WEST WALES, is blessed with almost 200 miles of stunning coastline —  a craggy peninsula that reaches out to the wild Atlantic Ocean. Almost all this dramatic coast is accessible via the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – one of Britain’s most popular National Trails – and now part of the larger, 870-mile long, country spanning Wales Coast Path.

Walk the Pembrokeshire coast

Pembrokeshire’s seaward rim is a wavering line of haunting beauty and perpetual contrast; in places a wild and untamed landscape that faces the full fury of ocean storms, but elsewhere, rugged headlands and fractured promontories protect coves, deep-water inlets and secluded landings where superb sandy beaches are backed by lush woodland.

Wild flowers, seabirds and seals are some of the constant draws, while the rocks span more than 700 million years of earth’s history. Few places in Britain reveal such a concentration of geological drama. Inland there’s plenty worth discovering too; the secretive reaches of the Daugleddau, where the gentle ebb and flow of the tide creates a rich feeding ground for waders, or wander onto the Preseli Hills, which have drawn man since before the Bronze Age.

Ever since walking and rambling became a recognised pastime, country pubs have been magnets for walkers.

Pembrokeshire’s best pubs and inns

Ever since walking and rambling became a recognised pastime, country pubs have been magnets for walkers. Whether a lunchtime stop along the way or a final destination for the day, the promise of a thirst-quenching pint, bar snack or a hearty meal is for many, an integral part of the day.

While the county is rightly renowned for its spectacular coast, there are inland gems to explore too such as the Gwaun Valley and Preseli Hills. Bringing together the best of Pembrokeshire’s countryside with fine food and local beers, these carefully chosen pub walks will satisfy a healthy, outdoor appetite.

Many of Pembrokeshire’s coastal inns have origins in serving seafarers, while those inland lay beside routes to and from the coast or beside old droves along which livestock were herded to market. Today, all have a fine tradition of serving visitors who come for no other purpose than to enjoy the magnificent countryside. All those chosen here have long established reputations for their food or ale and have an individual quirkiness worth seeking out.

Our favourite top ten Pembrokeshire pubs are:

1. The Golden Lion, Newport

Originally known as the Green Dragon, The Golden Lion is a 17th-century coaching inn. Cosy, beamed rooms and open fires provide quiet corners for relaxation, while the lively bar is a favourite with locals. The food is second to none and there’re comfortable bedrooms if you’d like to stay a little longer.

2. Tafarn Sinc, Rosebush

Opened with the railway in 1876, the Precelly Hotel was an overly optimistic vision to establish a mountain spa in the Rosebush valley. By the early 1990s, it had become almost derelict, but was rescued and renamed the Tafarn Sinc because of its unusual construction. The pub has retained its original charm and has earned a reputation for warm hospitality and good food.

3. Dyffryn Arms, Pontfaen

Known locally as Bessie’s after its octogenarian landlady, the Dyffryn Arms has been in the same family since 1845. Hardly changed over the years, it is a genuine step back in time, with beer still served from a jug through a hatch in the front parlour.

4. Sloop Inn, Porthgain

Dating from 1743, the Sloop Inn was built to serve a bustling trading port and the stone industries that developed throughout the 19th century. Packed with old pictures and maritime memorabilia, it’s a place to linger and soak up the atmosphere.

5. The Harbour Inn, Solva

Originally a house, the Harbour Inn has been providing hospitality to sailors and travellers for over 200 years. Although now a modern pub, it retains the old traditions of welcoming hospitality, good beer and hearty food.

6. The Druidstone, Druidston Haven

Druidston grew up beside the pilgrim route to St David’s. The ancient tradition of warm hospitality lives on in The Druidstone, a quirky, laid-back family run hotel and inn, stunningly perched on the cliffs looking out across St Brides Bay.

7. The Old Point House, Angle

Recently refurbished, yet thoroughly unpretentious, this ancient seafarers’ pub dating back to the16th century has long been known as the ‘lifeboatmen’s local’. Set above the shore, it is an idyllic spot from which to watch water birds while the tide laps in and out of Angle Bay.

Inside the Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay

Inside the Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay

8. Cresselly Arms, Cresswell Quay

Superbly set behind the old quay at the head of the creek the Cresselly Arms is a wonderful survivor of the traditional pub. Completely unmodernised and as homely and comfortable as old slippers, the pub is popular with locals, welcoming to visitors, and a great place to enjoy a pint, chat and watch the world go by.

9. St Govan’s Country Inn, Bosherston

Just a mile inland from the coast, in the tiny village of Bosherston, is the comfortable St Govan’s Country Inn. A lively, family pub, it is a great base for exploring the National Trust’s Stackpole estate and one of the most impressive sections of the Pembrokeshire coast.

10. Cross Inn, Penally

Overlooking the village with splendid views across Carmathen Bay to Caldey Island, the Cross Inn has been a pub for more than a century. Standing on a hillside set back behind dunes, it overlooked the now silted estuary of the River Ritec, which was once navigable all the way up to St Florence.

Dennis Kelsall - outdoor author

Dennis Kelsall – outdoor author

This article is extracted from the handy, pocket-size walking book, Top 10 Walks: Pembrokeshire: Pub Walks. Copyright © Dennis Kelsall 2005. All rights reserved.

For more details of the book, or to buy a copy, please see the cover and link below.

Dennis is a long-established writer and photographer specialising in hill and countryside walking as well as more general UK tourist destinations. He has authored a long list of guide and travel books for several main-stream publishers, scripted audio commentaries and contributed to outdoor magazines and regional newspapers.

Dennis is a former chairman and lifetime member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild; and is available for commissions.

Contact: dennis.kelsall@gmail.com