Last week it was lovely to go back to Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire. It was a surprise day out. I needed to take my car for a service and leave it in the garage for a few hours so Mum said she’d pick me up to go for a walk and lunch. When she suggested driving to Stackpole Quay to walk to Barafundle Bay, I immediately agreed. Read on to find out more and to see some phone snaps from our day:
Stackpole has a long history (which you can read more about here). But, in case you’re wondering how it came to be in the National Trust’s hands here is some brief information. Sir John Campbell II inherited the estate in 1777 and began landscaping work on a grand scale. What was once a valley was later flooded to create the Bosherston Lakes, as part of a designed landscape, and thousands of trees were planted.
Two world wars heralded a century of decline at Stackpole. Half of the estate, around 6,000 acres, was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence to form Castlemartin Range in 1938 Soldiers billeted in Stackpole Court removed lead from the roof, which led to dry and wet rot. Sadly, the house was finally demolished in 1963. Thirteen years later, what was left of this historic estate was broken up and the farms were sold. The coast, woods and lakes passed to the National Trust.
Visiting Stackpole Quay & Barafundle Bay Pembrokeshire
Parking for Barafundle is at Stackpole Quay (postcode SA71 5LS). Parking is £6 for the day or £3 for 3 hours and free for National Trust Members (just scan your membership card at the pay-and-display machine). During the day there is usually a car park attendant too. Close to the car park are free toilets, The Boat House Tea Room and a picnic area.
In the picnic area behind the car park, there is a “Beach Books” van. Second-hand books help raise money for the National Trust (and ensure visitors get to enjoy a good read on the beach too!).
About Stackpole Quay
Stackpole Quay is one of the smallest harbours in Pembrokeshire. It’s nestled between high limestone cliffs with a pebbled beach revealed at low tide. It was built in the late 1700s to ship stone from the nearby quarry. It was also used to bring in coal and other goods for Stackpole Court.
Before you begin your journey to Barafundle, enjoy the views at Stackpole. On sunny days the harbour has the look of the Mediterranean- look at that colour of the sea!
In the corner of the inlet, there is a cliffside steel ladder for access and escape from this bay when the tide comes in. Always take care with tide times to avoid being cut off.
The sheltered harbour is popular with kayakers and swimmers. There is also an abundance of wildlife. We used to love taking Danny here for exploration days with Darwin Science ad National Trust. I have to check and see if the National Trust run any similar days here now as Izzy would love it too (she hopes to become a Marine Biologist).
It’s also perfect just to sit and enjoy the peace or read a book. Just behind the harbour, there is a grassy picnic area where you can enjoy food from home or something from The Boathouse Tea Rooms.
Walk to Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Follow the signs to walk to Barafundle. I always feel like this walk is longer than it actually is. I think this is because it felt longer during the days of carrying buggies, babies and all the paraphernalia we had to bring at the time. In fact, it’s only half a mile from the car park to Barafundle Bay (but remember there are steps involved).
Turn left and head for the steps.
The walk begins and ends with steep steps. Again, with only ourselves to carry, it felt like a lot fewer steps to climb than during previous visits. I was still glad to make it to the top though!
At the top of the stairs, stop for a breather and read about how Wales has travelled nearly 6000km in its lifetime- which has left some of the rocks pretty crumpled!
Then, go through the gate (remember to close the gate and keep dogs on leads as there are livestock in the field). This is also a good time to warn you to avoid the cow pat during this part of the walk!
The rest of the walk is along a clifftop field with stunning views. Just look at those clouds too. You may see all weather up here so as with every Pembrokeshire trip make sure you have suitable shoes, a raincoat, a sun hat and sun tan lotion. The conditions can change quickly.
Griffith Lorts Hole
From this walk, you can see Griffith Lorts Hole, sometimes called the Lattice Windows, natural arches formed as a result of coastal erosion. The name must come from the Lorts. The Lort family owned the Stackpole estate from 1611. Elizabeth Lort married Griffith White in 1664, so maybe that is where that part comes from.
Barafundle Bay Wall and Gateway
Once you reach the end of the field, you get to the Barafundle Bay Wall and Gateway. This was built by the Stackpole Estate’s owners in the 18th century to enclose their deer park. The steps were once lined with ornamental columns and trees.
My mum in the gateway.
As the sign reminds us, if you are fortunate to see seals during your visit, please keep your distance. They are best viewed from afar as they are easily distressed. A slight disturbance could cause a seal pup to be abandoned.
Many people say that Barafundle Bay was a secret to us locals for many years but before that, it was actually a private beach. It was owned by the Cawdor family of Stackpole Court, who built the castellated wall and steps down to the beach at the northern end. How lucky were they to have all of this to themselves? I am glad we all get to enjoy it now. Personally, I avoid coming during peak times, such as the summer holidays, but whenever we do visit, it’s always quiet enough to pretend you have your own private beach for a moment.
The Steps Leading Down to Barafundle Bay
Walk down the steps to get to your destination, Barafundle Bay.
It’s a gorgeous sandy beach, backed by sand dunes. It also has a Mediterranean feel and is a sun trap during warm days. Look how clear the water is for swimming- perfect. Always check swimming conditions on the day.
When the tide is out there’s also plenty of room for playing beach games. We have lots of fun playing beach cricket, boules and football.
Award Winning Beach- Barafundle Bay
Barafundle Bay is an award-winning beach. Over the years it has won so many accolades, such as the best beach in Britain, one of the top 12 beaches in the world and ‘The UK’s top picnic spot’.
Enjoy your time on Barafundle Bay and leave nothing but footsteps. Then climb back up the beach steps, walk across the clifftop field and then back down the steps to Stackpole Quay.
Bluebells at Stackpole Quay
If you visit Stackpole Quay from late March to May, you may be treated to a glorious display of bluebells. The National Trust recently named Colby Woodland Gardens, in Pembrokeshire, as the best place to see bluebells this May but you will be lucky and see them in many places in Pembrokeshire.
The Boathouse Tea Rooms, Stackpole Quay
After our walk, we were ready for refreshments so we popped into The Boathouse Tea Rooms.
Eat Out Vegan Pembrokeshire
I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of vegan options.
They also serve a choice of dairy-free milk. I had tea with oat milk and a vegan pasty.
The vegan pasty was filled with curried vegetables. It was so delicious and satisfying.
Bird Spotting at Stackpole Quay
It was nice enough to sit outside and eat. A lovely chaffinch came and joined us. Isn’t he lovely?
So as you can see, we had a lovely impromptu walk and lunch in Stackpole and Barafundle. I can’t wait to go back already.
Stackpole Wildlife Walk
If you fancy walking further, do the Stackpole Wildlife Walk. It’s a 6-mile circular walk taking you from Stackpole Quay car park to Barafudle Bay, Stackpole Head, Broad Haven South, Bosherston and the Eight Arch bridge.
Video of Stackpole Quay to Barafundle Bay Walk, Pembrokeshire
Stay in Pembrokeshire
If you’re not local, why not stay in Pembrokeshire to enjoy this local walk, here are some tried and tested places we recommend:
Have you visited Barafundle Bay?