Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Pentre Ifan, Wales © Paul Griffin
Located in the southwest corner of Wales just a short drive from Cardiff, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park runs along a coastline riddled with rugged cliffs, superb sandy beaches, rocky coves, and tiny fishing villages. There is some spectacular scenery and wonderful coastal walks, including the well-trodden 167-mile (269km) Coast Path. Inland, the historic Preseli Hills conceal ancient trade routes, hill forts, standing stones, and burial chambers. The tiny islands offshore are inhabited by colonies of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, gannets, and grey seals. The area is an activity-lover's paradise, with a choice of hiking, pony trekking, surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, and fishing opportunities. The best time to visit is in spring, when wild flowers abound and most ramblers have yet to arrive. The town of Pembroke is worth visiting if only for its fearsome castle, which, founded by the Normans, has an intriguing history. Just south of the park is the city of St David's, which is actually only a little larger than your average village. The cathedral found there is the resting place of St David, the patron Saint of Wales, and during the Middle Ages was one of the most holy places in Britain. Two pilgrimages here were equivalent to one to Rome.