On the jagged expanse of seaboard south of Newgale, the narrow coast-hugging road threads through the ‘Havens’, four seaside settlements known for their tawny sandy coves and beaches backed by craggy cliffs and a stupendous array of coastal geology. Because of how the maze of little lanes around here spread-eagles out, Druidston Haven is the one of the four you would bypass completely unless you were specifically headed there. Naturally, this was the one we at Undiscovered Wales were keenest to reconnoitre one chilly day this winter just gone when we developed a craving for some blustery sea air.
However idiosyncratic the most northerly of the havens, Nolton Haven, appears when you pass through, prepare yourself for something quirkier as the approach lane to Druidston dances along through cornfields and sheep fields. You know you’re getting close when the topographical placenames (Priest’s Vault, Settling Nose) start sounding more and more wondrous and then, suddenly, at the point where land tumbles away to the red-brown, drama-charged clifftops that have until now remained out of sight, you arrive.
Accounting for much of the quirkiness is the delightful hotel, The Druidstone, in whose car park you will need to park to access the beach. The deal is that you purchase a drink or snack from their bar or restaurant in return for parking there which, given there is absolutely no other free flat space in the vicinity for this purpose, is fair enough. The reality is that anyone passing by would want to linger in the hotel, anyway: it’s a special place.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path passes right under the hotel through its cliff-facing beer garden. Follow this north (with the sea on the left!) which descends gradually to where the cliffs gently kneel into an inlet. You are at the deepest part of the beach here, and what a beach it is: a broad band of packed sand fading creamily into the shallows of St Bride’s Bay. Were this beach on any other stretch of shoreline, it would be a show-stopper of a strand. On St Bride’s Bay, coming for most visitors after they have clapped eyes on Newgale Beach which is Pembrokeshire’s longest, it does not impress to quite the same degree, but it still has the longest beach on the Havens. It is simply less visited because of the limited parking and how you have to walk down some way to access the sand.
In any case, the beach is not the best thing about this place.
Bearing left from the beach entry point, turn around once you reach the shallows and look back up at the cliffs, and you’ll see what we mean…
Besides two waterfalls crashing spectacularly onto the rocks at the cliff base, there, sequestered away in the corner at the southern end of the beach, which almost has the feel of its own separate cove because of how the cliffs press in, is a cave into which you can walk into quite some way. Sufficient surprises, one would think, given none of this is what you expected descending from the car park. But there is more. Druidston Haven does not end where the first set of cliffs appear to close the cove off at the southern end…
A squeeze of shore hurries on south to a separate cove covered in a spread of large flat-topped boulders part-covered at high tide. Scrambling over these makes a thrilling build-up to what lies behind: a trio of three huge sea caves, each accessible by land, of which the first has almost cathedral-like proportions!
The Coast Path doesn’t run along the cliff base, however – so having checked out the caves you will need to return whence you came. Up at the northern end of Druidston Haven and more often visited because of the proximity to Nolton Haven there are some smaller, also impressive caves and rock arches: more signs of what the power of the buffeting waves can do here given half a chance.
But these caves beyond the south end of the beach reign supreme as the hypogean highlight of the Havens.
NEXT ON THE JOURNEY: From Druidston Haven, it is 9 miles northwest to this quirky accommodation option in a converted shepherd’s hut near Solva.
Sand: 8 (The sand on the majority of Druidston Haven is firm and tawny – all the better for building sandcastles with! Lots of wormcasts too: we love wormcasts. The rocks on the other bits of the beach are of the fun make-up-your-own-adventure kind)
Swimability: 8 (Pancake-flat sand and long, sandy shallows)
Privacy: 7 (Most of Druidston Haven is one continuous stretch of sand but its big enough, and the beach recedes far enough into the cliffs, for there to be plenty of private nooks)
Setting: 8 (It looks lovely from above and is dashingly serendipitous from below).
Facilities: 10 (Parking, and the myriad other facilities of the Druidstone Hotel)
At a glance
How to get there: Access is from Newgale to the north or Haverfordwest to the east. From Newgale, head south out of the village along the A487 then where the main road bends uphill follow the minor road (diagonally right) which follows the coast along the southern part of Newgale’s spectacular beach. It’s just under 4.5 miles along this road, called Welsh Road, via Nolton Haven to Druidston Haven. The sign for The Druidstone Hotel where you’ll park is then clearly visible just after two or three steep bends, on the right. You’ll first spy the Roundhouse, which is their self-catering accommodation, on the right. From Haverfordwest, take the B4341 about four miles west towards Broad Haven. No need to descend right into Broad Haven: where the road bends right after four miles carry straight on via Rosehill Caravan Park to reach the community of Haroldston West after another two miles. You want to be passing Haroldston Hall and then at the crossroads with the church on your left, turn right. A short way uphill is the turn-off on the left signposted to Druidston Haven.
Parking: The Druidstone Hotel car park – free, but don’t abuse this and do get refreshments at the hotel afterwards.
Refreshments: The Druidstone Hotel – beautiful views, independently, idiosyncratically run, somewhere to drink, somewhere to eat – and even a few places to stay.
Best time to visit: There is rarely a day when The Druidstone Hotel is not open, which makes any day a good one to visit. It’s one of those beaches which wild winter accentuates.