We’re lucky to live within walking distance of part of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. We can pack a picnic and stroll along stopping to explore the beaches along the way. Last week we walked to St Thomas Bay for our picnic tea, take a look:
Visiting St Thomas Bay
St Thomas Bay lies halfway between Gelliswick and Sandy Haven. We began our walk from Gelliswick side. There is a lovely long circular walk that takes you from Gelliswick to Sandy Haven and then back again from Herbrandston but we chose a shorter route to St Thomas Bay and back on this occasion. There is plenty of free parking available at Gelliswick (Sat Nav Postcode: SA73 3RS). From Gelliswick Beach follow the coastal path signs and head up South Hook Road. You will first pass a number of houses and then reach the Pembrokeshire Coast Path to enjoy your stroll.
Pembrokeshire Coast Path from Gelliswick to St Thomas Bay
It’s a very pretty walk with interesting sea views. We were lucky to be walking at the golden hour.
We passed a clearing where locals (and tourists too possibly) wild camp. The kids and I used to build dens and picnic here when they were younger.
There were plenty of sloes growing. We need to collect these soon to make sloe gin or coridal (sometimes in a family with kids it’s best to make cordial so everyone can drink it and then just add gin if you want to!). There were also lots of blackberries. Izzy’s already began her annual blackberry picking. I’m trying to hold off until late August/Early September as I like to think of it as an Autumn activity.
South Hook Beach (Pipe Beach)
We soon reached South Hook Beach (also called Pipe Beach). When we first moved over this side I heard it was called Little Wick (compared to big Gelliswick) so I used to call it that too. I haven’t heard it called that in years so that name may have been completely made up! I do apologise!
South Hook Beach is only accessible by steps. Looking back now I find it hard to imagine how I managed to get the kids here in their baby carriers and strollers but I did, just as mums of little ones today still manage (Supermums!). It’s home to South Hook LNG so more industrial than a pleasure beach but it’s quite interesting and a nice place to stop for a rest along the way or even to spend the day exploring. I’ve often passed hikers wild camping here for a rest while on longer walks of the coastal path.
South Hook Beach to St Thomas Bay
Continuing our walk after the beach we come to more steps. These ones are so much prettier though!
Stack Rock Fort
Practically all the way along this route there are views of Stack Rock Fort. Stack Rock Fort is a fort built on a small island. A 3-gun fort was built between 1850 and 1852, and then upgraded in 1859 with a new building that completely encased the original gun tower. It is now a Grade II* listed building. It is once again up for sale if you’re interested. There is also an interesting fort to the side of Gelliswick Beach, Fort Hubberstone. You can also look out for views of South Hook Fort although this is now within the LNG boundary.
At some points along this walk there are high hedges and the sea disappears. Then we instead look out for beetles, ladybirds, butterflies and slow worms.
We spotted a Magpie Moth.
The sea views soon return enhanced by dramatic cliffs added for extra measure.
We know we’re getting close to the easiest path down to St Thomas Bay when we pass the coastal defence. The kids always call it “the shack”.
St Thomas Bay
From here you can continue onto Sandy Haven, but we planned a picnic tea on St Thomas bay and a stroll home before dark. The path isn’t the easiest for those with mobility problems but nearby Gelliswick and Sandy Haven are both more accessible.
At the end of the path there are rocks to climb down over. We played on the beach and then climbed back up the rocks and found a comfy spot to eat our picnic while watching the sun begin to set. While we were on the beach a lone friendly dog ran down the rocks and approached us. We kept expecting the owner to appear but they didn’t and he left. It was only much later when we were on our way home that we saw him back with his owner, a runner. He must have raced well ahead of her bless him. I’m glad we saw them together as Izzy was worried he was lost and as our walk darkened my mind began to wander and I began imagining he was the ghost of a dog who used to love that walk (I read far too many scary stories when I was younger!).
Walking Home as the Sun Sets
It was a beautiful walk home as the sunset. Arguably a walk west rather than our easterly route home may have been more preferable but we had the excuse to stop and take the time to turn and enjoy the view.
I generally love circular routes as there’s no need to retrace your steps. Back and for routes are fun too though as in the style of “Going on a Bear Hunt” it is fun to look out for the markers you passed on the way there.
Yes, I took a photo of a step because I think it’s the prettiest step (always give compliments where they’re due)!
Back to South Hook Beach. Look at my strongest girl! She’s wearing her swimming costume, always ready for a dip.
We walked back along the coastal path, past the houses, back to Gelliswick for a quick dip and then back home. Look out for rabbits, foxes and badgers in the hedgerow by the houses as we often see them.
Have you visited St Thomas Bay?