Which Way to Walk on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path ?
Poppit to Amroth or Amroth to Poppit ?
The result of a survey carried out in 2011 revealed that twice as many people walk the path in the North/South direction than the other way round. However that may not suit you and we hope that the points below will enable you to decide which way to walk.
Consider whether you wish to walk into the sun or with the sun to your back, and whether you wish to start with a difficult walk or make life easier and start with a couple of shorter ones!
Most of the guides are written as if one is walking from St Dogmael's to Amroth, (North to South). The stiles and gates have numbers on with No.1 being near Pen Cemaes. To walk this way gives a feeling of conformity. Although having said that, Dennis Kelsall "THE PEMBROKESHIRE COASTAL PATH" (CICERONE) and Jim Manthorpe "PEMBROKESHIRE COAST PATH (TRAILBLAZER)" are both written South to North!
If swimming is important to you, the best beaches are in the last two-thirds of the walk (when walking North/South).
The sun moves around during the day and the path changes direction often. But when walking from Poppit the sun and usual south-west wind will be mostly on your face. Walking north to south may increase exposure from the sun during the summer and from the wind in Spring Autumn and Winter.
Even during March and October the strength of the sun is magnified by the sea. Likewise on cool cloudy days you can still get burned on a two hour walk, therefore sun protection is really important.
When walking from north to south, the first day's walk from St Dogmael's to Newport is around 16 miles and covers about 3,000 feet of ascent and descent. There are no refreshments or services close to the Trail between the (seasonal-only) services of Poppit and Newport Sands. This is the most challenging section of the Coast Path and not a walk for the unfit. Novice walkers would be well advised to book accommodation in advance at Moylegrove and split this walk into two 8-mile stretches.
If walking from Amroth to Poppit, (south/north) the first day provides many opportunities for refreshment and accommodation. The 16 mile stretch from Amroth to Skrinkle is quite a challenging day in itself. There are many steep hills, but there is a pub at least every 4 miles, and many cafes. The town of Tenby has many choices for an early overnight stay if body or equipment is suffering.
Walking from north to south means that you have to cover at least 8 road miles around the Castlemartin Range, or use the Castlemartin Range Trail, a permissive path maintained by The Army. The roads are fairly quiet with good views; the Castlemartin Range trail has great views across the battle range, and there may be herds of large cattle, but the Castlemartin coast is a treat to be included if possible!
You can only cross Range West as part of a walk guided by trained leaders. Both the National Park Authority and Ramblers Association lead these walks. Walks are on a Bank Holiday or Sunday, but not every weekend. These walks usually go from east to west which fits well with walking the Coast Path from south to north.
To ensure that you cross the range, phone the National Park Authority (08453457275). Book a place on the walk, then plan backwards to time your first day to suit.