Marloes and St Brides

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Naturally, this community welcomes anyone removing rubbish from our beautiful beaches; here are a few guidance notes, some of which apply in particular to Marloes Sands.


- Check the tides, but remember that tide tables only give guidance: the actual sea height and the time of high or low water are affected by air pressure, winds, and Atlantic conditions generally.

- Go prepared for eventualities.

- Let someone know where you're going, and when you should be back.

- Be aware that the sea is unbelievably good at dismantling pallets etc, leaving long and very sharp nails exposed for thoughtless feet to find! Thus, beach cleaning barefoot or in just flip-flops is not recommended.

- N.B. mobile phone reception is non-existent in many locations.  

- If you find anything which looks potentially dangerous (toxic, explosive) or suspicious – don’t touch it, note its location carefully, ideally take photos from different positions with something included for scale, and advise HM Coastguard.

- Also, be sure to distinguish between plastic bags and the Portuguese Man O’ War whose streamers, which can be extremely long, can deliver a life-threatening sting (humans and dogs). These are more commonly washed up in Autumn:

Organised beach cleans

The Marloes Sands Midwinter Beach Clean is held annually on or as near as possible to New Year’s Eve, in memory of Chris Williams who began the tradition.  We also try to arrange a Beach Clean for Saint David on or about March 1st.

The rules for these beach cleans are – all come at their own risk, and under 16s must be accompanied; always the timing is, of course, down to how Neptune has arranged the tides!  We only provide red sacks: bring your own gloves etc.

The reason why the Marloes & St Brides community doesn’t organise cleans at other times (we get asked this a lot) is that we rely on the goodwill of local farmers for quad bike haulage of the gather; summer and autumn are particularly busy for them.

N.B. other organisations do sometimes arrange Marloes Sands and St Brides Haven beach cleans. The community is not always notified; if we are, we always try to spread the word. Sometimes posters are put up at Marloes Sands car park.

Beach cleaning technique

Your time is valuable; so, always, it’s best to concentrate on big and heavy plastic items, not fiddly bits.  You can see why: remove one fish box, and that prevents it from being smashed by the sea into hundreds of small fragments – which, if they aren't picked up, each break down further into thousands of microplastic particles.  The same goes for rope, containers, anything.

Whatever you pick up, please take it properly away!  If you pile stuff up just above the tideline, the next gale or rough sea will have it back on the beach.

Similarly – with the best of intentions, people collect rubbish off Marloes Sands and stash it loose at the bottom of Sandy Lane (the main access route from the car park) beside the stream footbridge… BUT PLEASE DON’T DO THAT!

Firstly, there’s no formal arrangement for rubbish to be collected from here, and our local farmers are all very busy people.

Secondly, loose stuff left here is often picked up by the wind and blown into the rough growth on the stream banks, where it is inaccessible: it just stays there, creating long-term ecological problems.

Thirdly: the moment anything’s put there, full dog poo bags and general picnic litter get added to the pile, with disgusting and very unhygienic consequences.

So, if you want to beach clean and have no sack: please concentrate on large items like rope tangles/fish boxes/plastic drums – and take them all the way up to the car park entrance: left at the litter bins, the PCC will collect them.

Doing your own beach cleaning - equipment

For your own beach cleaning the best plan is, use Keep Wales Tidy red sacks (see beach clean photos above). To help with onward handling, their printed messages indicate they contain volunteer-collected litter; and, they’re tougher than ordinary refuse bags: you don't want a split sack spilling everything you’ve just picked up!

Red sacks can be collected from Keep Wales Tidy litter picking hubs (there are multiple points across the county including Milford Haven Leisure Centre, Keep Wales Tidy’s Milford Marina office, and Haverfordwest Town Council) from where you can also freely borrow litter pickers, bag hoops and hi-vis vests.  Bags can also be collected from Chris Jessop, Marloes: (01646) 636789.  We are hoping to have a bag pick-up point established soon at St Brides Haven.

Sorting your own haul

If you can take your own haul home, that’s definitely best.  Then you can take out anything which is recyclable, and put it in your PCC kerbside collection containers: most obviously, plastic and glass bottles.  We want to recycle as much as we can, because red sacks go to landfill.

When not to beach clean

You might be surprised to see this.

Firstly, when the sea is really rough (any time of year) it is not unusual for the fetch of an extra-large wave to flood right across the low tide sand, far faster than you can run: people caught out will at the least have wellies full of water; children may be soaked to the waist, even worse bowled over.

Secondly, it’s best to not beach clean with lots of holidaymakers about. On seeing you gather rubbish, some will think it’s fine to leave their food wrappers, crisp packets, and pop bottles behind, because “someone else will pick it all up”; worst of all, they’ll dump disposable barbecues – whose metal grids have razor sharp edges that could seriously injure anyone barefoot.

Getting red sacks collected

Another great thing about red sacks: if you ask them, the PCC refuse crews will collect them from outside your house every third week, i.e. on "grey sack days".  Be sure to only put out full sacks – otherwise, that’s a waste of plastic! And always tightly closed please, or the wind will do its worst.

Recyclable fishing waste material

Regarding fish boxes, potfishing rope, trawl net, buoys & floats, and drums and barrels - if you live locally, please note that CLEAN plastic like this can go for recycling, and there is a skip for receiving it in Milford docks – but access is restricted.  If you have the space at home, it would be great if you could store such material… and when you have a useful quantity, please contact Chris Jessop (01646) 636789 or Sue Burton (01646) 636906 about bringing it to Marloes for forwarding.  We want to recycle as much as we can: red sacks go to landfill!

Reporting your finds

Keep Wales Tidy and the Marine Conservation Society are very keen to collect information on what gets found and where: this is why the MCS organises an annual whole UK beach clean week in September during which everything found is inventoried: see their website for details of all their Great British Beach Clean events. The nearest beach to Marloes & St Brides involved in this campaign is West Dale.

KWT will soon (Dec 2023) launch a new beach rubbish reporting system: keep checking and/or this webpage for updates.


Tree branches, sawn timber, pallets – whatever the sort of wood, we don’t collect it.  Firstly when it biodegrades naturally on the shore, many organisms benefit – in particular the rare Scaly Cricket, which lives just above the Marloes Sands shoreline.

Secondly, practical and creative folk have all manner of uses for wood.

Thirdly: though they might not look important, certain timbers are shipwreck remains – which some of us collect and then report to the Aberystwyth archaeologists…


Anyway, sending wood for landfill is about the worst outcome in environmental terms!

Whatever the time of year, NEVER BURN WOOD.  Please remember that National Park and National Trust rules prohibit beach and coastal strip fires.  Even in winter, sparks from them can cause cliffside blazes; and in any case there can be danger to you from damp stones or buried aerosols exploding – or indeed military ordnance hidden under the sand or shingle: WW2 explosives are STILL VIABLE, as you’d learn if you ever saw and heard an old mine set off by Bomb Disposal.  This one, found at Watwick Cove, was taken out to sea and then…

Finally – if someone leaves the hot embers of a fire untended, there is nothing to stop a child or a dog walking onto them without realising, and suffering severe burns.

         CONTENTS (click on the headings to go straight to the item)


Organised beach cleans

Beach cleaning technique

Doing your own beach cleaning - equipment

Sorting your own haul

When not to beach clean

Getting red sacks collected

Recyclable material

Reporting your finds



Scarf jointed oak rib, most likely from the steamer Albion (wrecked 1837)

The 2023 Midwinter Beach Clean:

New Year’s Eve, Sunday 31st Dec, set off from Marloes Sands car park at 2pm.