Marloes and St Brides
INTERESTING PLACES TO VISIT
THE DEER PARK This is the headland at the end of the Marloes Peninsula just beyond the little cove of Martins Haven. So called because of past plans to keep deer there (never fulfilled, though the wall to keep them in was built), the Deer Park now provides a short circular walk with unrivalled coastal views. To the south there is Skokholm. To the north, views across St Brides bay to Ramsey and St Davids, with Grassholm and the Smalls Lighthouse far out to sea. To the west the looming presence of Skomer, with Midland Isle in the foreground. Between Midland Isle and the Deer Park runs Jack Sound, a formidable shallow tidal channel with a tidal race at the down-tide end, which can none-the- less be navigated by a small boat when the tides are right
The Deer Park is one of the best places in the area to see Chough, a cliff-dwelling member of the crow family with a bright red curved bill and red legs. Choughs have a characteristic call which sounds like a cross between “cheow” and “chang” and when flying they have very broad wings with “fingered” ends. But beware - not all large black birds are Choughs - there are also Ravens, which usually give themselves away by their “kronk” call, and also plenty of Crows and Jackdaws.
The small inaccessible beaches around the Deer Park are a good place to see breeding Grey Seals. From August onwards most small beaches will host one or two small, white, furry baby seals which very soon grow into grey balls of blubber!
Other wildlife which can be sighted on the Deer Park are Green Fritillaries, Adders, Stonechats and Wheatears. Offshore, Gannets can often be seen and sometimes Porpoises.
The small coastguard lookout on the top of the Deer Park is manned by voluntary members of Coastwatch - see National Coastwatch Insititute Wooltack Point.
There is a National Trust car park (free to members) which provides access to the Deer Park, or it can be included in a circular coastal walk from Marloes or from Marloes Sands car park. On the road down to the Martins Haven beach there are toilets (famous for the Swallows which nest inside) and a display showing the under-sea wildlife in the Skomer Marine Reserve.
ST BRIDES In addition to the delightfully sheltered cove, St Brides also has an attractive little church, a castle, a mediaeval cemetery and a Victorian Pumphouse. Dorothy Willcock has written an interesting booklet on St Brides which is well worth reading.
The Castle in its current form was built between 1905 and 1913 for the Kensington family. It was sold in 1920 and became a TB Hospital, initially for children and then for both children and adults. The hospital closed in 1978 and was then converted in 1983 in luxury holiday flats. It was taken over by the Holiday Property Bond in 1991 and now has holiday-makers staying there all year round. It is an attractive building set on a high point of land, and views from the castle back along the coast in an easterly direction are very fine. St Brides and Marloes Summer Fete takes place on the first Thursday in August on the front lawn - a magnificent setting! See HPB ST BRIDES CASTLE
The Pump-house was built in 1913 to supply St Brides Castle with water. It is open every day and contains an interesting display of photographs and history.
The Cemetery is on a small flat piece of land next the lime-kiln and just above the beach. Fragments of coffins can sometimes be seen in the low cliff behind the beach. It has recently been excavated but the results seemed only to provide more questions than answers! For more information read the dig report.
The Church was built from 1291 onwards. In a delightful setting, it has a fine timbered roof and many stained glass windows. See OUR CHURCHES for more details.
The limekiln is one of many dotted around the Pembrokeshire coast, sited wherever a ship could berth and supply the necessary culm (low grade coal) and limestone. These were used to make lime to treat the fields and counter the acidity in the soil and to make lime mortar and limewash.
MARTINS HAVEN Most visitors to Martins Haven are heading for Skomer on a boat, but there are a few things to see and do while you wait. Lockley Lodge is run by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, and in addition to selling souvenirs also has live links to Skomer, where you can watch Puffin antics and see the inside of a Manx Shearwater nest. The building is new but is a replica of the one built here by Ronald Lockley many years ago. (Lockley lived on Skokholm for many years. He began to study migratory birds from 1928, establishing the first British bird observatory in 1933, and carrying out extensive pioneering research on breeding Manx Shearwaters, Atlantic Puffins and European Storm-petrels)
In Fisherman’s Cottage is an interesting display about the Skomer Marine Nature Reserve.
In a gap in the wall just below Fisherman's Cottage is an ancient Celtic Cross from between the 7th and 9th centuries. It may have marked a grave or was used as a “Prayer Station”. It is an indication of the presence of the early Celtic Church in the area and the movement of early Christians by sea between Wales and Ireland.