In 2019 we walked the Pembrokeshire Coast Path from Amroth to St. Dogmaels. After our third walking day, the weather and my health messed up with our walking plans. To offer you some information about the parts that we did hike, I share my experiences on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path from Bosherston to Dale. I also share practical tips on how to arrange your hikes in Wales.
Bosherston to Dale: Pembrokeshire Coast Path Day 4,5 and 6
After three days of walking in Wales, things turned bad for me. The weather and my health seriously messed up our Pembrokeshire Coast Path walk. We did walk a bit each day, so I share with you day 4 from Bosherston to Freshwater West and Pembroke. Day 5 from West Angle back to Freshwater West and day 6 Milford Haven and the Dale Peninsula.
I was not paid or sponsored to write about my experiences. I paid for everything for my boyfriend and myself out of my own pocket. This post does contain affiliate links to products and services I used and can recommend. If you decide to follow one of my links and purchase something, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.
Quick Facts and Data for walking from Bosherston to Freshwater West
- Date: Wednesday 29th May
- Start time: 8.00 am
- Finish time: 11.00 pm
- Distance walked: 4,8 km (3 miles)
- Elevation gain: 73m elevation gain and 29 m down-hill
- Best resource: I highly recommend the Pembrokeshire Coast Path book by Manthorpe and McCrohan
Pembrokeshire Coast Path Day 4: Bosherston to Freshwater West and Pembroke
After three days of walking along the coast of Pembrokeshire, we found ourselves more inland, at Bosherston. We knew the MOD Firing range was closed so we couldn’t walk the path to St. Govan’s Chapel and along the coast to the Green Bridges of Wales.
We had to continue inland, via Merrion, Warren, and Castlemartin to Freshwater West. We wanted to walk today till West Angle or even Angle, and take the bus to Pembroke from there.
Bosherston to Freshwater West
We woke up that morning in our comfortable St. Govan’s Inn in Bosherston and we had a very luxurious breakfast. We especially were digging the fresh fruits on display and loved their teapots. But it was time to quickly pack our things because we wanted to take the bus to Castlemartin.
Bus 378 or 388
The bus stop was right in the center of Bosherston but the bus only comes 3 times a day. As the part by paved road from Bosherston to Castlemartin didn’t appeal that much to me, I thought it was a good idea to take the bus to Castlemartin and walk from there.
We got off the bus in Castlemartin and rain poured down on us. It was the kind of rain that you can consider typical British. The sky was grey and a blanket of fog and drizzle covered everywhere we looked. The bus driver told us to walk by the road as the backcountry walk might be very wet this time of year.
Walking from Castlemartin to Freshwater West
I heard the bus driver but what he was actually saying didn’t really land. I mean, how bad could it be?
Very bad it turned out. Walking on a small path in Castlemartin, we soon arrived at the firing range and we had to cut through a field to continue. The field was soaked in slippery mud and cow dung. We slowly slugged through the tall grass and weeds, sliding along mud pools, trying to avoid the heaps of cow dung and not disturbing the cows.
Walking slowly, focus on the ground, avoiding to slip and fall face-first in mud and cow shit was my main priority at this moment. The drizzle turned into solid rain and visibility turned to 0. We missed a gate and before we knew it, I was herding cows as I thought the path went straight.
Castlemartin Firing Range
As we ended up on a farm with the only way through was through the cowshed, we discovered our mistake and turned around. We found the gate a while back and entered another patch of tall grass. Luckily, good rain gear does keep you dry but it wasn’t much fun.
We had to walk around the Castlemartin Firing Range. I saw a perfectly paved, the mud-free road lay right beside the Pembrokeshire Coast Path so we decided to walk on the road. After all this effort to avoid the main road and walk in nature, it now seemed like a much more pleasant option.
Maybe it was the thick foggy drizzle but we didn’t see much. It was mainly green grass and farmlands. We did hear some alarming shooting in the distance so we figured it was a good thing we couldn’t walk on the other side, but it wasn’t that interesting.
It was only when we saw soft sands that we realized we were near a beach. We arrived at Freshwater West beach. A lovely, mile-long stretch of golden sand, but we couldn’t see it.
By now, I was more than cranky. The intense walking and trying to avoid slipping in the mud had made all my muscles tense and my stomach upset. We used the facilities at the Freshwater West car park and I convinced my boyfriend to stop our hike for the day.
Giving in to my fears
I was sitting on the toilet and tears welled up in my eyes. I wasn’t having any fun. The scenery was invisible and I was seriously scared for the next stretch. Described as one of the most remote parts of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, without any facilities and you need to be well prepared to walk it. I was scared.
I felt this weird feeling in my tummy and I just didn’t want to walk anymore. Looking back, we did walk that stretch the day after and it was tough but not impossible. I still don’t know why I had such strong feelings on our 4th day of walking but we stopped our hike there. Maybe with my gut feeling, I prevented a terrible accident or I just gave in to the first hurdle on our walking path. We will never know.
Like a miracle, a cab driver showed up to the Freshwater West car park and my boyfriend and I were arguing to stop the hike or to continue. It felt like a sign to both of us and the cabbie brought us in 20 minutes to Pembroke.
We’d stay at the Coach House Hotel in Pembroke but of course, we couldn’t check in just yet, as it was way too early. We could leave our bags and put on some dry clothes and we set out to explore Pembroke town. Happy coincidence, the hotel also offers very affordable laundry service, so we gathered some dirty clothes and left them at the reception.
Having cupcakes and tea in Pembroke
The arguments and the vague gut feeling soon faded as we walked through the cute village of Pembroke. Massive stone houses, colorful doors, and small shops to keep us entertained.
My eyes caught the colorful and frosted cupcakes in the window of Anna’s Cupcake Boutique. We ordered tea and indulged in some sugary frosted delights and I felt much better after devouring their delicious treats.
All hyped up on sugar, we continued to the castle. Lucky us, today was baby-dragon day! The castle of Pembroke was massive and I really enjoyed exploring it. Tomorrow was supposed to be our rest day and I wanted to visit the castle then, but today was as good as any other day. Maybe better!
We climbed the towers, walked the ramparts and learned about the Dukes and Earls of Pembroke. They really did a good job to make history come alive at the castle, with individual stories, interactive videos and live-action actors portraying key figures in the castle’s past. And there were baby dragons!
In my opinion, Pembroke Castle is a must-visit on your Pembrokeshire Coast Path walk. Leave time to visit the castle on your walk. For more information, check here.
Day 5: West Angle Bay to Freshwater West
As the rain retreated, it stayed dry for the rest of the day. And guilt crept in. Did I give up too early the day before? As we basically had a rest day on day 4, shouldn’t we walk on day 5 at least some miles of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path?
After much deliberation, endless bus schedule checking and ignoring gut feelings, we decided to go back to the Angle Peninsula on day 5 and hike the remainder of yesterday’s walk. As the bus schedule was quite complicated, it would only work if we’d walk from West Angle Bay to Freshwater West and take the bus back to Pembroke. And so we did.
Quick Facts and Data for walking from West Angle Bay to Freshwater West
- Date: Thursday 30th May
- Start time: 9.30 am
- Finish time: 1.40 pm
- Distance walked: 8,1 km (5 miles)
- Elevation gain: 108m elevation gain and 105 m down-hill
Hiking from West Angle Bay to Freshwater West
After quite some time on the bus, we arrived at 9.30 am at the empty car park of West Angle Bay beach. We had until 1.30 pm to get to Freshwater West to catch the only bus back to Pembroke.
It was still very grey and visibility was poor, but ever so slightly better than the day before. Last night, I woke up 3 to 4 times and had to rush to the bathroom. My stomach was upset and growling. I could hear it rumbling and working. I was worried.
Nevertheless, we set out on the trail and started with a few fields and small elevation gain. We had views of the small Thorne Island and we saw the heavy industry of Milford Haven. I didn’t find things that pretty. The grey views didn’t really help that picture.
As soon as we rounded the peninsula, we could only see the sea and in the distance what must be Dale Peninsula. The waves were crashing heavily on the rocks and the terrain got a bit rougher. We slowly climbed and walked downhill on a few patches.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path roller coaster ride
Once past the outcrop of Sheep Island, I was struggling again. With each step, I felt a hard throb in my stomach as it took in the shock of a new step. We encountered a series of very steep climbs and even steeper descents.
Heavily leaning on my walking sticks, I tried not to look into the deep. Stones rolled down the hill and I felt my feet slide down a bit. I was not lovin’ this. I hate walking down. And then I panic, I freak out and my whole body resolves into a state of tense fear. My stress levels rise to the max and although with the hiking poles it is much better, I really don’t like it.
But this was the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and we went down and back up again. Flat walking and down again, and back up again.
And up again.
After 2 hours of walking, I could feel my stomach protesting. It had been over 3,5 hours since I last went to the toilet and I could feel the water take over the content of my stomach.
Freshwater West Beach
By now, I was counting the minutes. I wasn’t hiking, I was merely surviving. Which each step, I figured I’d get closer to the finish and would find a toilet as my ultimate reward. My focus shifted from preventing to sliding down to (literally) keeping my sh*t together and just continue.
The grey clouds were blown away and a pale sun came out. And there it was, I could see the golden sands of Freshwater West! I’m not sure that I was ever more relieved to see the beach!
But, the beach is over a mile long and the last part was quite hard, through the dunes of soft sands and over the beach. In my head, I was repeating my mantra: breath, keep it in and just put one foot in front of the other.
Waiting for the bus to Pembroke
And I made it! The last few meters, I threw my walking sticks at my boyfriend, unzipped my camera and GoPro, removed the straps of my backpack and ran.
I was only just in time. My stomach protested. It was severely upset. I cried, mostly because of relief but also because of the pain.
But I was relieved. We made it and we had 40 minutes to spare to catch the bus. We sat in the sun, overlooking the sea, drinking coke from the food truck at the beach. But, sadly, the sun disappeared and I got very cold, very quickly.
Bus to Milford Haven
We got on the bus to Pembroke and at the castle, we switched to the bus to Milford Haven, where we would stay for the night.
These two bus rides together lasted for well over an hour. I sat there, a small puddle of sad human being, mentally fighting a war that was going on in my stomach and trying to relax so I could become warm again.
I failed miserably.
Milford Haven B&B
When planning the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, I quickly noticed there is a lot of fun things to see and do, besides walking the coast path. As we only had 15 days, I figured we couldn’t see everything and walk the entire path too.
We never intended to walk the stretch from Angle to Milford Haven. From what I saw from the numerous bus rides at the Angle Peninsula and to Milford Haven, we didn’t miss much and it was a good decision.
We couldn’t have wished for a warmer welcome than by Ron at the Springfield B&B. Located just outside the center, he opened up his townhouse with 3 rooms for guests. We were the only ones staying with him that night and he pampered us with a serenade, friendly suggestions, a more than ridiculous luxurious breakfast and ride to Dale the next morning.
Do you want to experience his especially sliced bacon and homemade hash browns? You can book a room at Springfield B&B here and you’ll get Ron’s hospitality with it for free.
Not walking from Milford Haven to Dale
Can you imagine what it is like to rush to the bathroom every single hour of the day? I have quite some experience with this phenomena but it still renders me into a shell of a human being every time. Each time my bowels turn on me and decide to evict anything I put in there, doesn’t matter if it is water or biscuits or solid food, I feel betrayed. Betrayed by my own body.
The rest of the evening, I stayed in, skipped dinner and alternated taking ORS, napping and rushing to the bathroom.
In the morning, Ron offered us a ride to our next B&B in Dale. As the tides were very unfavorable, we would for sure have to take a detour and maybe walk nearly 26km. It was too much. The bus schedule didn’t seem to help either, so we hopped in his car and 30 minutes later we were in Dale.
Day 6: Walking Dale Peninsula
I’m never sure if people can tell I’m not feeling too well. I always feel I’m sweating out of my hair follicles, I’m breathing load and look pale. But I guess other people can never tell that I’m using all my attention and energy to master my bowel movements.
All the more humiliating it is to ask people to urgently use their bathroom. Sadly, we couldn’t check in that early at the B&B in Dale either, so there we were. Out on the street in a village that consists of a beach shop, a closed Inn and a closed café.
We decided to go walking again.
Quick Facts and Data for walking from Dale Peninsula
- Date: Friday 31th May
- Start time: 10.00 am
- Finish time: 1.00 pm
- Distance walked: 11 km (6,8 miles)
- Elevation gain: 118m elevation gain and 117 m down-hill
My guide book showed me the route was mainly flat and it would be a short walk, so I figured we could do it. Mainly because I was absolutely sick with guilt towards my boyfriend and partly because we really didn’t have any other place to go.
I still wanted to walk some part of the trail but I felt I wasn’t up for long days. I figured if we’d hike the Dale Peninsula today, we could pick up the path again tomorrow and our walking day tomorrow would also be shorter.
Dale Peninsula Pembrokeshire Coast Path
We left our B&B on the right side of the street and walked along the coast, through fields where sheep were grazing towards St. Anne’s Head. The views of Milford Haven and the industry opposite the narrow straight wasn’t that spectacular. But the path was quite varied. A bit of woodland, secluded beaches, fields with sheep, beacons for the sailors and some flower fields.
St. Annes Head Dale
One past Castlebeach bay, the views got more open and interesting. We passed the holiday park at St. Annes Head and I was a bit disappointed we couldn’t visit the lighthouse but it offered amazing views from here.
As we were walking for 2 hours now, I started to get anxious again. The path was really open here and the wind was blowing relentless. I could feel chills rushing up and down my body and not because I was that cold but my intestines were actively trying to get rid of something.
After checking the map for the 100th time, I had a bit of a meltdown and sat down, sobbing and crying. I felt overwhelmed with not feeling too well and I could feel my lack of energy making this walk very hard on me. But as soon as I sat down, I was reminded that as long as I kept moving, I could control my stomach so I got back up again and we continued our walk.
The lovely Westdale Bay beach was more than welcome! We made it. We turned inland again and reached our B&B, now from the left of the street. For the rest of the day, I stayed in, rested and relaxed.
Day 4, 5 and 6 on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
As you can see from the above, I didn’t have much fun these days. When looking back, I still find it a miracle that I managed to hike 3-4 hours a day and still get some miles in but it wasn’t much fun. On day 6, I finally caved and started the emergency antibiotics I took with me as the anti-diarrhea medication was not working. I barely ate anything in those 3 days and all my energy reserves were gone.
Check out the video that I still manage to make of these 3 days:
Best walks between Bosherston and Dale
If you don’t feel like hiking the whole stretch or the entire Pembrokeshire Coast Path, I offer some tips on shorter day walks you can do and still see the most amazing scenery.
- Freshwater West to West Angle bay: Although I absolutely hated the steep up and down, one after another on this stretch, looking back, it was actually quite spectacular. If you’re a more confident hiker, you might actually enjoy it!
- Walking from one side of Dale, around the Peninsula to the other side of Dale: This is actually one of the very few circular hikes you can take on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Park your car in Dale and walk around the peninsula. I didn’t find the first views that nice, but overall it was quite an easy and pleasant walk.
Tips for walking from Bosherston to West Angle and Dale
Each stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is different so I try to provide you with practical tips for walking this part.
- Busses connect this part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path but it takes a few hours of studying to get the schedule right. Bus 387 and 388 are your friends. Depending on the bus stop you can see a bus 3 times or one a day. Some stops are frequented 2 times on one route. You can reach Dale on the 315 or 400 bus.
- If the firing range in Bosherston prevents you from walking along the coast, I see no added value in walking the stretch from Bosherston to Freshwater West. Unless you’re a die-hard thru-hiker and you don’t want to cheat, or you’re a military enthusiast who likes to see tanks and hear shells fired.
- From the St. Govan’s Inn in Bosherston until West Angle Bay, the only food, toilet, and water option is the car park at Freshwater West. So bring snacks and carry enough options to hydrate yourself, like a Life Straw Drink bottle or a water bladder.
- I could not have survived the steep climbs and descents from Freshwater West to West Angle without my hiking poles. I have the Black Diamond trekking poles with adjustable height which are super easy to bring with you on holiday. If you prefer the same trekking poles as me, but with cork handles, then check the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Poles here. You can easily store them when you’re walking on the road. My boyfriend uses the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z trekking poles which are 1 size but can be folded and are ultra-lightweight.
More Pembrokeshire Coast Path
This blog is part of my Pembrokeshire Coast Path series. I will write about my experiences hiking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. This part covers day 4,5 and 6 of our walking holidays. Curious about the rest? See the other sections here:
Are you planning to walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path? Have you been to the Angle peninsula or to Dale? Was the firing range open or not? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.
In case you have any questions about walking from Bosherston to Dale, let me know!