Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Day 1 – getting to the start and an evening stroll past Tenby, 16km

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Ten days after arriving back from cycling the length of Japan (and a few days after catching a cold), my bestie from the PCT, KC arrived in London from the States.

KC & I on the PCT in 2015:

And in 2019:

KC & Kat, 2019

KC & Kat, 2019

Before her arrival, we’d talked about various hikes that could fit into the 9 days of holiday she would have here, and all of them were two weeks long and quite challenging! The GR20 was on the table, as was the Coast to Coast. Neither of us big planners, it was only once KC arrived (and the day before we would start the hike) that we started to seriously try and choose something. We looked at every single UK National Trail, as well as the Westweg in Germany, Kungsleden in Sweden, Camino Primitivo in Spain and heaps more.

After checking out train timetables, converting miles to kilometres (for me) and lots of procrastination, we decided on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The decision was influenced by the fact KC has never been to Wales but has hiked in Scotland and Ireland over the last two summers and I’ve only been to Wales once, many years ago. The weather also looked good with a whole week of sunshine forecast. We headed to my local book store and bought the one and only guidebook in store on this trail, by Trailblazer. We then did some grocery shopping (tortillas, cheese, pepperoni, chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, tissues (for my cold) and more chocolate, then came home and packed our backpacks for 8 nights away. I also downloaded the GPS track onto my Garmin from the National Trails website. We were planning to camp wherever possible which took the pressure off not having to try and make last minute accommodation reservations.

So what is the Pembrokeshire Coast Path?

Our route from Amroth to St Dogmaels, courtesy of Basecamp

Our route from Amroth to St Dogmaels, courtesy of Basecamp

Pembrokeshire Coast Path trail from Basecamp

Pembrokeshire Coast Path trail from Basecamp

The National Trails website summarises it like this:

‘The Pembrokeshire Coast Path twists and turns its way for 186 miles along the most breathtaking coastline in Britain. It covers almost every kind of maritime landscape from rugged cliff tops and sheltered coves to wide-open beaches and winding estuaries.’

This National Trail in Wales can be walked in either direction between Amroth and St Dogmaels with the most challenging section thought to be the last 17 miles leading to St Dogmaels. Knowing this, and also seeing that it was easier to get to Amroth than St Dogmaels, we decided to walk northbound from Amroth.

Word of warning

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is 186 miles long (279km) and the time recommended to hike the trail is two weeks. Now that I’m writing this after finishing the hike in the comfort of my home but with no feeling in my blistered feet and an aching body, I can strongly attest to this recommendation. What follows is two crazy female hikers with limited time, pushing their bodies to the max in order to complete the trail. I do not recommend hiking the trail in 8 full days like we did. Instead, take your time and book B&B’s so you can relax in the pub each night, swim at whichever beach that takes your fancy and maybe even read a book or two. I couldn’t even stay awake to change out of my hiking clothes most nights!

Getting there

Kilgetty is the closest train station to Amroth, so we boarded the train from Paddington towards Tenby at 10:45am (as we only booked the day before, the cheapest tickets were off-peak which meant the later start, for £50.60). We changed trains at Swansea, then got off at Kilgetty at 15:25. It looked like we had timed it just right and would be able to catch the bus from Kilgetty to Amroth, but alas, after waiting about 20 minutes, it turned out we were stood on the wrong side of the road and the bus flew right past! No more busses for another two hours, we tried our hardest to hitch with no luck (no cars!), before calling the local taxi company and after a further £12, we were finally at the starting point of the trail opposite the New Inn pub in Amroth just after 5pm.

We're on our way to the start

We’re on our way to the start

The start of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Amroth

The start of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Amroth

186 miles to St. Dogmaels

186 miles to St. Dogmaels

These informative signs are all along the trail

These informative signs are all along the trail

The start of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Amroth

The start of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in Amroth

 

  • Day 1: Amroth to Giltar Point
  • Distance: 16km
  • Ascent / descent: 476m / 461m
  • Weather: sunny and hot

And so, at about 5:15pm we started our first day on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Sunset wasn’t until 9:30pm which meant we knew we had plenty of time to get some miles under our feet before dark. It was a gorgeous, sunny and warm afternoon. Much warmer than we had expected, after both packing hiking trousers for this trip! The trail started with an immediate climb, then continued up and down to Tenby.

Walking through old colliery railway tunnels

Walking through old colliery railway tunnels

Saundersfoot beach

Saundersfoot beach

I couldn’t have been happier to pass this fresh donut kiosk, my favourite type of donuts and only £2.50 for four!

Delicious fresh donuts in Saundersfoot

Delicious fresh donuts in Saundersfoot

Best donuts in the UK!

Best donuts in the UK!

Tenby in the distance

Tenby in the distance

This first section has its fair share of ups and downs!

This first section has its fair share of ups and downs!

Somewhere in the forest near the above pic, we ran into a man who was almost at the finish of his hike along the same trail, going southbound. He told us he was an ultra marathon runner and he certainly looked like one. He also told us he had been camping and had hiked the trail in the same amount of time that we were planning to, but he didn’t seem convinced that we could! He was carrying the smallest pack I’ve ever seen, more like a runners pack with two water bottles in front and a fanny pack. Maybe it was our backpacks full to the brim on this our day 1, or the fact that we don’t look like ultra marathon runners, that made him second guess our ability. Knowing KC, this was like putting fuel on the fire, which was a good thing, because I’m sure if and when we’re doubting ourselves over the next week, we’ll both replay this scene and it will edge us on!

Tenby views

Tenby views

Tenby was a lovely surprise and it’s somewhere I’d love to come back to. It was teeming with families eating fish and chips on benches, and seagulls waiting patiently. We passed colourful old buildings and inviting pubs with beer gardens, but alas we kept walking.

Walking into the beautiful coastal town of Tenby

Walking into the beautiful coastal town of Tenby

Walking into the beautiful coastal town of Tenby

Walking into the beautiful coastal town of Tenby

This photo was taken at 8:45pm, you gotta love long summer nights!

This photo was taken at 8:45pm, you gotta love long summer nights!

It's 9:34pm and still more than enough light to keep walking... this is looking back at Tenby

It’s 9:34pm and still more than enough light to keep walking… this is looking back at Tenby

Tenby South Beach was absolutely littered with these giant jellyfish which all looked like they were wearing ballet tutus

Tenby South Beach was absolutely littered with these giant jellyfish which all looked like they were wearing ballet tutus

Tenby South Beach was absolutely littered with these giant jellyfish which all looked like they were wearing ballet tutus

Tenby South Beach was absolutely littered with these giant jellyfish which all looked like they were wearing ballet tutus

KC and a giant jellyfish, for scale

KC and a giant jellyfish, for scale

PCP1 elevation profile from Garmin Connect

PCP1 elevation profile from Garmin Connect

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7 responses to “Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Day 1 – getting to the start and an evening stroll past Tenby, 16km

  1. Hi there! I met you two when you were hiking in the PCT with Shepherd. My mother and I were hanging out just below Mt. Hood, and we had some trail magic for you guys. Glad you two are reunited. My husband and I plan to do some of the long trails in the UK in the future, so I am looking forward to reading about your adventures. Happy trails to you both! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi! We both have such fond memories of the PCT and the generosity of the trail angels we met, thank you!!! There’s quite a few national trails to choose from in the UK (which is why KC took so long to choose this one), but this has certainly been a stunning trail and I highly recommend it. Happy trails! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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