Even if you’ve only visited Wales on the odd occasion, you’re bound to have eaten a welshcake or three. Best served warm, these scone-like griddle cakes pop up on many a B&B tea tray or cafe menu. But we bet you’ve never tried welshcakes like those served at MamGu in the fishing village of Solva in Pembrokeshire. With their desire to be different and game-changing flavours, they elevate the humble welshcake to a whole new level.
Why we love it
Let’s face it, Solva is love at first sight in many respects – from the fishing boats that bob in its deeply-riven harbour to the candy coloured cottages that thread down to the water’s edge and tranquil vibe. It’s a village that makes many a visitor consider ditching the day job, selling up and moving to the coast. And speaking of coast, there’s a terrific stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path right on its doorstep.
MamGu’s welshcakes are as delicious as their story. The concept comes courtesy of Becky and Thea, friends who came up with the idea after travelling the world and teaching themselves to make welshcakes. Starting off with a gazebo and a griddle, they quickly found their sweet treats went down a proper storm. They next operated out of a converted horsebox before gaining enough success to open this coffee shop in 2018. Provenance is important to them in everything from their Pembrokeshire-based Chantler teas (try the Christmassy welshcake brew) and freshly roasted local coffee to the ingredients used in their welshcakes.
MamGu sits right in the thick of things – on the Main Street in Lower Solva, its refined powder-blue facade flanked by galleries and gift shops brimming with nautical knickknacks.
Out front there is a small terrace with a couple of tables. Inside it’s rustic-cool in look and feel: beams, reclaimed wood, slate, a palette of coastal blues and whites and fairy lights adding a cosy twinkle.
Even during these crazy pandemic times, the atmosphere at MamGu is chilled. Staff wear masks, there is a screen at the counter and tables are well spaced, but otherwise it’s business as usual at this coffee shop. There was a great buzz when we were last there (fair to say, in fact, that it’s a nexus for the action in the village) and we were glad we called ahead to snag the last available table for a late lunch.
It’s as genuinely warm and friendly as can be. The staff seemed delighted to tell us all about their welshcakes. There’s an unhurried feel, too – you’re free to browse the shelves for local produce, kick back with a coffee and work your way through the welshcake flavour spectrum. We certainly did (come with a very empty stomach)!
The menu does a grand job of championing Pembrokeshire produce. While there are other things on the menu (Welsh rarebit enriched with Tenby Brewing Co ale, homemade cawl, crempogs – aka Wales’ special take on pancakes – and warm pear and Pembrokeshire blue cheese salad, for instance), we reckon you’re going to go straight for the welshcakes. And who could blame you?
The welshcakes are served warm off the griddle, the way they ought to be. We opted for a savoury course first (leek and cheese welshcakes, with baked beans). Despite being very full afterwards, we couldn’t resist ordering half a dozen of the sweet variety. Our particular favourites? The ginger ones, with whole pieces of candied ginger, and the nicely feisty chilli-chocolate ones.
Oh. And MamGu are soon going to be opening a new takeaway joint in Croes-goch too…
NEXT ON THE JOURNEY: It’s 1.5 miles west from MamGu’s welshcake cafe to the serenely isolated Fairy Bridge shepherd’s hut, heading up a lonely valley emptying onto the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Solva is one of our special star destinations. Scroll to the bottom for our mini guide to access all our Solva content in one place…
At a glance
Welcome: 9 Cheerful staff who are well informed about their products and are happy to cater to even the most discerning welshcake aficionado.
Food: 9 The welshcakes are the main act (and they are frankly the best we’ve tried), so good we had to take several packets with us for the road. Great attention to local sourcing with the other wares, too, and an eye for detail.
Location: 8 It’s not right by the seafront but it’s nevertheless a central and eyecatching spot in Solva, handy for mooching around town or stopping off on a hike along the coast path.
Cost: Good value. Four leek and cheese welshcakes came in at £5.50 and a box of six sweet ones cost a reasonable £4.
Opening hours: 9.30-5pm Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm Sunday.
Address/telephone number: 20 Main St, Solva, Haverfordwest SA62 6UU; 01437-454369
SOLVA MINI GUIDE: