Bravery, beaches and barbecues

A summer family adventure in Pembrokeshire

Helen Rushbrook is a Hertfordshire-based photographer obsessed with light and colour, and in seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.  A lover of the great outdoors who yearns after the sea and open spaces and yet equally at home in front of an open fire dunking ginger biscuits in tea.

Helen regularly visits Pembrokeshire, with her family, throughout the year and here Oli, aged 11, revisits his trip from August.

Standing on the edge of the platform, my arms crossed, my legs shaking, and my hands clammy, I prepared to make the epic leap off one of the many high ledges at the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy.

It was exhilarating, amazing, and, as I hit the water, COLD! I felt a huge sense of achievement and pride in having met my fears head on.

Would I do it again? NO WAY!

The Blue Lagoon (which has twice played host to the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series) is a former slate quarry which, once its resources had been mined, was flooded to leave a beautiful natural - and astonishingly blue - lagoon a short walk from the beach at Abereiddy.  It is a popular location for coasteering, swimming and, the day that we were there, spectating.

The stretch of coast that is home to the Blue Lagoon is considered to be one of the most spectacular in the whole of Pembrokeshire, and a popular walk takes in the slate cliffs, isolated beaches and ruins of the area’s industrial heritage en route to Porthgain.

Porthgain itself is a pretty little village, home to a picturesque harbour (good for crabbing), an excellent fish and chip shop (with a wet fish counter), a number of art galleries and the Sloop Inn, where we replenished our energy reserves (with lemonade and crisps for the children and welcome pints of lager-shandy for the adults) before returning to Abereiddy for an early-evening swim off its pebbly beach for the children; and tea and Welshcakes for the adults.

The day after our Abereiddy adventures dawned cloudy and a little unpromising, so as is often the case on such days it was to Dale that we headed. The morning was spent crabbing off the jetty.  The tide was on its way out, but we managed to catch a decent bucket-full before retiring to The Griffin Inn for lunch. Me, my brother and sister all had Scampi and chips and it was excellent, and it’s great to be able to sit and look out and see people heading out kayaking and windsurfing.

After lunch we headed over to West Dale (a short walk across a field to the coast path, and then a bit of a scramble down to the beach and over the red sandstone rocks that line the sand.) Because it is a bit of a walk, the beach isn’t staffed by lifeguards, and has no facilities, it is often pretty deserted - as it was on the day in question. At low tide there is plenty of space for games of football or French cricket (which we played while we waited for our friends to arrive) and there are lots of rock pools to fish in.

As the tide started to come back in we suited-up (well, everyone else did: I went in wearing just my shorts!) and had great fun body boarding. The waves were massive!

As the afternoon and the tide drew in, more serious surfers began to arrive and as the grown-ups drank beer and built a fire at the top of the beach to warm us, and over which to cook our dinner, we watched a number of guys surfing the by then impressive waves.

Hot dogs, burgers and meatballs were cooked over the fire, followed by S’mores: marshmallows and chocolate buttons sandwiched between biscuits. YUM!

This had been our third and final trip to Pembrokeshire this year, and I love it more each time we visit. I can’t wait to return next year!

Read more about family holidays and breaks in Pembrokeshire.

 [Pembrokeshire] very much like the coastal beaches of Australia. 
Russell CroweHollywood actor
West Dale

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