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Sparkling, Hidden Gems – And Where To Find Them

February 2024

It's well known that gorgeous West Wales is truly beautiful and many of its treasures are well known to travellers who holiday in this part of the country. But what else is there? Where are those precious hidden gems that you have to be 'in the know' to know about?

Want the inside scoop? Look no further.

  1. St Govan's Chapel The best of the best when it comes to hidden treasures... St. Govan's Chapel stands as testament to both spiritual devotion and natural wonder. This ancient chapel, believed to have been built in the 13th century, is perched precariously on the edge of the cliff, its stone walls blending seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. The legend is that the saint was pursued by pirates and sought refuge in the cliffs, where a cleft miraculously opened to provide sanctuary. The tiny chapel is only accessible via a steep flight of steps that wind down the cliffside and, to add to its mystery, if you count the steps on the way down you may find that you count a different number going back up!

  2. Ffynnone Waterfall Hidden within the enchanting woodlands near Boncath, Ffynnone doesn't get nearly as much attention as its better known, flashier, nearby counterpart, Cenarth Falls. But don't skip a visit here, because the Ffynone waterfall definitely has its charms, not least because it's the tallest of the four waterfalls in Pembrokeshire. Park up in the small car park, and meander along the moss-covered trail, not forgetting to look up, up, up at the tall, swaying fir trees way above you. And don't forget to bring a towel and some swimmers, you might just fancy jumping into the plunge pool at the foot of the waterfall when you get there. If you're lucky you'll be the only ones there and you can sit back and just enjoy the play of light through the foliage, adding a magical touch.

  3. Castell Bach Cove Nestled along the rugged coastline of North Pembrokeshire, Castell Bach Cove is a hidden coastal haven, a gem waiting to be discovered by those who venture off the beaten path. Park up at Cwmtydu Beach and head north along the coastal path to access. Looming over the secluded inlet is what's left of what was once an Iron Age fort, one of only a few to be found in Ceredigion. You can just imagine people in days gone standing there, looking out to sea for marauding invaders.

  4. Carningli Common The panoramic views over the Preseli Hills and Cardigan Bay are definitely worth the hike up to Carningli Common. Often referred to as the Mountain of Angels, this majestic silhouette against the skyline above Newport town is the remains of a 450 million year old volcano. The name "Carningli" is believed to have Celtic roots, translating to "Rock of Angels," and local folklore suggests that it may have been a site of ancient ritual significance. Today, Carningli Common is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts, with a network of walking trails that lead through heathland, bracken-covered slopes, and meadows. Legend has it (yes, of course there is one!) that St Brynach spoke to angels, skylarks, and ravens here, so keep a keen ear out for his conversations.

  5. Cae Hir Gardens In the heart of the lush Pembrokeshire countryside you'll find Cae Hir Gardens, a horticultural gem harmonising a blend of art and nature. This five-acre Welsh garden, located near Cribyn, is a labour of love created by the visionary artist Wil Akkermans and continued now by his family. There's an ornamental garden, a garden nursery, and of course a tea room with home made cakes and teas. Cae Hir Gardens stands out for its botanical diversity and also for the incorporation of sculptures and artwork that seamlessly integrate into the natural surroundings. The garden's Japanese influences, reflecting Akkermans' travels, add a unique touch.

  6. Penbryn Beach Penbryn Beach is a pristine mile-long stretch of golden sands surrounded by rugged cliffs and rolling hills. There's plenty of competition for endless sandy beaches along this coastline, so Penbryn is often overlooked in favour of high profile places such as Mwnt, Tresaith, Aberporth, and Llangranog, but the best thing about this beach is the beautiful walk to get there. From the car park, follow the footpath signs through the shady wooded valley lined with flower-covered verges, and wait for the view to suddenly open up onto the beautiful beach in front of you. And as if that wasn't enough, the delightful Plwmp Tart, a local treasure renowned for its delectable homemade tarts, is definitely worth a stop for lunch.

  7. The Cilwendeg Shell House The Cilwendeg Shell House is a unique wonder built in the 1820s for the Morgan Jones family, who owned Cilwendeg Mansion at the time. A testament to the creativity and artistry of its creator, George Heywood Sumner, the Shell House is adorned with intricate mosaic patterns created from thousands of seashells, stones, and pieces of glass. It was first discovered in 2003, having been hidden from view with overgrown woods, and sadly in need of repair. With all the works done, the walls are now alive with vibrant colours and intricate designs, depicting scenes from mythology and nature. The attention to detail is astounding, making the Shell House a true labour of love.


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