Monday, 20 July 2009

Day 8 - Wales Coast - Broad Haven - My first day on holiday...

I drove north up the coast of Wales from Rhossili to Broad Haven, a small holiday village to the north west of Milford Haven, which has the second deepest natural harbour in the world. There's also a massive oil refinery in the area, but don't let that put you off, because the coast is predictably attractive.

This trip isn't really a holiday - I am moving every day to a new spot, and don't really have time to sit and enjoy the views for longer than a few minutes, before finding the next spot. But after an hour in Broad Haven, I felt - for the first time on this trip - like I was on holiday. (Don't feel sorry for me though....I'd do this every day for a long time to come! It's a massive privilege to travel through new lands, meet locals, understand new cultures...)

I arrived at Anchor Guest House, right on the expansive beach, and the first thing owner Janet Havard said to me was: "I've been reading your blog, and you've done way too much travelling in way too little time. Put your bags down and just chill!"

So I did as I was told, and as it was sunny, I went straight tothe beach for a swim (The water wasn't cold, nor that warm...just in between.) I sat down and just watched the beach scene, without doing anything.

Broad Haven reminds me of one or two beach towns outside Cape Town, in South Africa, where I come from. They're simple, not glamorous, stripped of any pretension, and the sort of place where you can go out for dinner in your costume, flip flops and sand in your hair. In other words, a real beach holiday.

Anchor Guest House is the feel like you're on holiday in your own beach holiday home. It's simple. Bathrooms are small but clean. Bedrooms are not decorated. There's no fuss. The result is you don't feel scared to be untidy, and throw your clothes on the floor, just like I would at home, and worry if someone looked inside. It hosts a lot of walkers from Germany, Holland and the rest of Europe, who do the beautiful coastal walks in the area. And surfers too...they probably enjoy the easy going way Anchor is managed.

There're one or two basic restaurants, but head to Druidstone, about two miles to the north of Broad Haven. A completely different dining experience! It's a big old house in 20 acres of wild land, owned by the Bell family, who have opened it all up to guests for meals and for a drink in the bar and patio that looks out over the coast. Everyone is part of the family when you go there. Art of all kinds hangs on the walls, hard core locals mix with regular visitors. The meals, though, are very tasty, and service is good. So they haven't compromised the visitor experience by letting guests hang out in their home. Go there, because you'll meet locals, and they'll make you feel's an authentic insight into how people live around here.

Round the corner from Anchor Guest House is Haven Sports, a surfing store that rents our water sports gear. Richard Heys will point you in the direction of one of many of the good surf spots in the area.

Broad Haven beach is wide, long and has small waves for beginners. Newgale, a bit further north is bigger in wave size, reaching 6 to 8 foot in autumn. And further south at Fresh Water West, 10 foot waves are predictable in big swell.

To the north of Broad Haven, is St Davids, a town with a cathedral of the same name...a classic, fairytale cathedral, that is an important pilgrimage site for Christians in the area. It is beautiful, but I am quickly starting to become immune to all these architectural gems, because there are so damn many of them. (I've been spoilt by St Catherines, St Govan's etc)

But something did catch my eye near St Davids. I didn't go there, but I saw a pamphlet for sheepdog demonstrations at Pembrokeshire Sheepdogs. Apparently, you can see border collies giving demonstrations on how they herd sheep, and how they are trained. Awesome. Go there for me, will you? (I have a border collie called Jasper back in South Africa!!).

The view from Anchor Guest House onto Broad Haven beach...roll out of bed onto the sand. Click on the image for a full screen version.

Anchor Guest House...

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got to see some of Pembrokeshire - and hope that you will get the opportunity to return. There is fantastic 'light' here that inspires (inspired) many an artist/photographer. :)

    An interesting website that maybe relevant to those interested in exploring the County is by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park ( - the county being the only place in Britain to have a coastal National Park. The National Trail extends 186 miles and offers a diverse walk exploring lovely gems such as St. Govan's Chapel. :D

    Interesting journey and blog. ;)