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Monday, 4 June 2018

Exploring Mill Bay, Dale, Pembrokeshire

Caitlyn is currently learning about the Tudors in school so we've been visiting relevant local Tudor places of interest, such as Pembroke Castle, where Henry Tudor was born.  Last week we went to Mill bay, Dale in Pembrokeshire to see where Henry landed before making his way to the Battle of Bosworth.  Coincidentally I was also invited on a course by Milford Waterfront which reminded  (and also taught) me of a lot of interesting local history so we were both eager to visit this special place.

Visiting Mill Bay

For a longer walk you could park in Dale  (SA62 3RB) but on this visit we parked in Kete (SA62 3RR) for a shorter evening stroll.   This car park is owned by the National Trust but free for all.  It also happens to be one of the best stargazing sites in Pembrokeshire so we'll have to stay later next time.

Even from the car park there are stunning views all around.

The Walk to Mill Bay

We headed South towards the coast (head towards the sea!). This walk begins with a long, fairly narrow road and beware- cars do use it.  We had to "pull in" a few times for cars to pass.

The Walk to St Anne's Head Lighthouse

 Keep heading towards the lighthouse.

Although it's just a long narrow road there is plenty of flora and fauna to spot in the hedgerows.  The kids also stopped at the gate to watch the cows grazing.

I felt the views were very typically Pembrokeshire- green fields, crop fields, the sea and refinery.

I thought the pretty hedgerow would make a good background for a sibling photo but the kids were facing the sun and it shone directly in their eyes- sorry kids!

St Anne's Head Lighthouse

St. Anne's Head Lighthouse is now privately owned so the walk feels  little unwelcoming at this point.  There are signs telling you to keep off the private property but you have to walk directly past the lighthouse to keep on the coastal path.  

The lighthouse was built in 1844 to guide ships bound for Milford Haven.  it replaced two lead lights that had been in use since 1714.  St Anne's lighthouse was automated and demanned in 1998.  The current lighthouse is actually monitored from Trinity House's Planning Centre in Essex.

There are a number of walks from the lighthouse but we were headed to Mill Bay.

This involves opening the gate and walking through the cow field (remember to close the gate and look out for dung!). 

We passed the old lighthouse keeper cottages.  These went up for sale in the early 2000's and many (if not all?) are holiday homes today.

Across the Cow Field

Across the cow field the path is marked with cut grass.  There are stunning views and you are not bought to close to the edge of the cliff (always a relief when I take the four kids out on my own!).

The Lighthouse Keeper Cottages.

To Mill Bay

We approached another gate and then returned to the typical coastal path.  

We passed an old ruined walled garden.

Remains of the military base are closed to the public (much to Danny's disappointment).

On this last stretch of the walk to Mill Bay we found a plaque describing the landing of Henry Tudor.

Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, landed at Mill bay on 7 August 1485 with his 55 ships and 4,000 men landing at Dale.

Travelling through West Wales and gathering support he then struck east.

On 22 August 1485 Henry defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and became King Henry VII founder of the Tudor dynasty.

We walked on and passed another crop field.

Down to Mill Bay

We went through another gate and then down the steep path leading us to Mill Bay.

It's a very pretty walk past the bluebells and across a wooden bridge.  The kids were down there in no time but it took me longer!  Izzy held my hand and helped me with the high steps (yes, I know it should be the other way around). 

Mill Bay

Mill Bay is a gorgeous spot to sit and eat a picnic while watching the ships pass by.

There are rumours that the masonry wall on the beach was once a mill, hence the name Mill Bay, but I haven't seen this confirmed anywhere.

It's a fun bay to explore- the kids enjoyed rock climbing, exploring the rock pools and parts of an old ship wreck.  In 1964 a vessel was wrecked here on it's way to Swansea.  They also paddled but i wouldn't let them swim as the current looked strong, the water deep and there was constant boat traffic.

Every time we find a cuttlebone it reminds me of my Nanny and Grampy's budgie called Twinkle.  Lots more people seemed to have budgies when I was young  and they always had a cuttlebone in their cage for the bird to peck.  

It was only as an adult that I found out these gas filled bones work as buoyancy control for cuttlefish.

I love Caitlyn's face as the cold wave surprises her!

That could have gone one or two ways but she's still smiling- phew!

The Welsh Flag

When Henry Tudor landed at Mill Bay he then marched to Milford Haven to meet the rest of his army who had landed there.  This is thought to have been for military and security reasons.  From Milford Haven the marched to Bosworth picking up more supporters along the way.  It was during this journey that the Welsh flag, the red dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, on a background of the Tudor colours of green and white was flown for the first time.  It was officially recognised as the official Welsh National Flag in 1959.  Here we are flying the flag on Mill Bay in 2018!  

Back from Mill Bay to the Lighthouse

After our picnic and a play we could have continued our walk in a circular (which I generally prefer) onto Dale and then back to our car in Kete.  However we instead retraced the shortest route back as it was a school night.

Back through the bluebells.

Past the crop field.

Past the information plaque.

Past the cottages, lighthouse and refinery.

Up the long narrow road, this time walking away from the lighthouse and the coast.

We returned to Kete Carpark.  As I said earlier, it's free and there are lots of spaces.

It was a lovely after school evening.  A short walk combined with a picnic, explore and paddle and we learnt lots too.  For younger children you could combine these walk with a read of The Lighthouse Keeper books by Ronda Armitage (I wish I could find our set at home to read to Izzy!).

Have you visited Mill Bay?  Have you been to Bosworth?  I'm definitely going to plan a trip to Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre to continue this story.


1 comment

  1. Another beautiful place ive not been - so much to see and do -


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