Woodland walking is something of a rarity along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, so this short stretch of permissive path, which sneaks through a narrow strip of woodland separating Broad Haven from Haroldston, makes a refreshing diversion from the usual salty air and the cries of the seabirds. This is the easiest of the Pembrokeshire walks in the book, with an almost billiard table-level section of coast path, some of which has been surfaced for access by wheelchair users. The artificial path, however, takes nothing away from the quality of the scenery, which is magnificent.
The cliffs here are of softer shales and millstone grit making them prone to erosion and subsidence, as you'll witness firsthand along the way. Amazingly, this whole stretch of coast sits on top of huge coal reserves, but the last colliery, which was situated further north in Nolton Haven, actually closed down in the early 1900s. As you progress south you'll pass the crumpled remains of an Iron Age fort on Black Point – although this is rapidly becoming separated from the main cliff by a landslide – and also a diminutive standing stone, known as the Harold Stone, which is tucked away in a field on the left as you approach Broad Haven. It's said to mark the spot where Harold, the Earl of Wessex, defeated the Welsh in the 11th century, but it's actually more likely to be Bronze Age.
Broad Haven is about as close as you'll get to a traditional seaside resort in North Pembrokeshire. The town's popularity as a holiday destination blossomed in the early 1800s, but recent years have seen an acceleration in development that has resulted in almost wall-to-wall caravan parks and a significant rise in the number of residential properties. The beach is beautiful, with gently sloping sands encased in brooding dark cliffs. As well as the usual selection of family holiday-makers, it's a popular place with windsurfers. This is due partly to a shop and rental centre behind the beach, and because the prevalent southwesterlies that blow across and onshore from the left make it a safe but fun place to play in the sometimes sizeable surf.
At low tide it's possible to walk south along the beach to the charming village of Little Haven. A walk northwards will reveal some fascinating rock formations beneath the headland. These include Den's Door, an impressive double arch in a rugged sea stack; the Sleek Stone, a humpback rock forced into its contorted position by a geological fault; and Shag Rock and Emmet Rock. Contorted layers of rock are also clearly visible in the main cliffs.
From anywhere in the car park, walk towards the youth hostel and follow a waymarked path marked Coedwig Haroldston Woods that runs between the YHA Study Centre (located to the right of the hostel) and the coastguard rescue building. Fork left at the junction with the holiday park path and continue to a gate then a kissing gate, to continue with the stream on your left.
Cross the stream by a bridge and now, with the valley floor to your right, go through a gate and bear left to continue easily upwards until you reach a T-junction of paths by a fingerpost. Turn right here, past a part-concealed bench on the right, and then swing left to continue upwards to another junction of paths by a small chapel.
Turn left to the road and then right on to it to walk uphill, with the church on your right. Ignore the turning to the right, then take the first left, towards Druidston Haven. Follow this past an ineffectual cattle grid to a sharp right-hand bend. Continue for another 300yds (274m) to the Haroldston Chins parking area and a gate on the left.
Go through the gate and follow the well-surfaced track down towards the coast. On reaching the cliff tops, bear around to the left and continue past Black Point.
After passing the Harold Stone situated in front of a modern white house on your left, fork right through a gate to remain on the coast path (marked with an acorn). The path starts to drop, generally quite easily, but there is one steep step. Follow the path down to meet the road and turn right.
Cross over the bridge and then, just before the road you are on merges into the main road, turn left on to a tarmac footpath that leads through a green and back to the car park.
Woodland trail, country lanes and coast path
Mixed woodland and lofty cliffs above broad beach
Poop scoop around car park and beach. Care needed on cliff tops
OS Explorer OL36 South Pembrokeshire
Car park by tourist information centre in Broad Haven
Between car park and beach
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Wales meets the Atlantic Ocean in spectacular fashion at Pembrokeshire. Unlike the West Country, Pembrokeshire can offer the coast without the crowds, and quaint fishing villages without those huge coach parks. Volcanic eruptions and earth movements have left a tortured rocky coastline of some 160 miles, whose beauty and drama have been recognised by National Park status.
Sometimes known as ‘Little England Beyond Wales’, the county has held a fascination for English visitors ever since the first Norman warlords forced their way in 800 years ago, leaving a string of 50 fine castles in their wake. The anonymous author of The Mabinogion, an 11th-century collection of Welsh folk legends, started it all. His description of the old Celtic kingdom of Dyfed (which encompasses Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire) as ‘the land of magic and enchantment’ was perhaps the earliest written attempt to sum up the outstanding natural beauty of this wonderful westernmost outpost of Wales. This is a county where you can take it easy on the sandy beaches, make sport out of those Atlantic waves, or discover the mysteries of St David’s or the ancient Preseli Hills.