The pretty little village of Stackpole is a few miles south of Pembroke, in between Freshwater East and Bosherston. The village has some pretty cottages and an Inn (The Stackpole Inn) but is better known for the Stackpole Estate, Stackpole Quay and Barafundle Beach nearby.
The nearest railway station is in Pembroke, which links up with the Coastal Cruiser bus.
The Coastal Cruiser coastal bus traverses as many points on the coast as possible including Stackpole and Stackpole Quay. It’s designed with walkers and surfers in mind with twice daily circuits, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The Stackpole Estate was one of several grand country seats belonging to the Scottish Cawdor family. Their main residence was Cawdor Castle at Nairn. Stackpole came into their possession when Sir Alexander Campbell, eldest son of the Lord of Cawdor, married Elizabeth Lort, heiress to the Stackpole Estate. It was a later Lord Cawdor of Castlemartin who led the attack on the 1,200 French troops that had invaded Fishguard in 1797. This event, The Last Invasion of Britain, is commemorated by a 100ft long tapestry on display at Fishguard Town Hall.
Most of the Stackpole Estate was requisitioned in the war to create a training ground for troops. Merrion camp still occupies this land. Unfortunately, this made the estate unviable and The Cawdors left to return to their Scottish estates. Crippling taxes on the empty mansion meant it was demolished in 1963, leaving only the outbuildings and the parkland that includes Bosherston Lily Ponds.
Interestingly, The Cawdors were keen to encourage sobriety amongst their tennantry, and until they departed in the 1960s the only places on the estate to have a drink were unlicensed ‘shebeens’. But what was bad news for the drinkers on one landed estate was good news for the beer-sellers on another. Anyone with a property just over the ‘border’ from one of the dry estates could be guaranteed a steady income – which is one reason why there were four pubs in and around the village of Hundleton, all of them on the less sober-minded Orielton estate. One that still remains open is The Speculation Inn at Hundleton, a lively hostelry selling Felinfoel ales.
The remnants of the estate were given to The National Trust who built the Stackpole Centre, which includes a school study centre, a newly built bunkhouse, self catering cottages and extensive facilities for groups and conferences, which are adapted for use by disabled visitors.
The National Trust operate a number of activities at Stackpole Quay and at the Stackpole Centre for Outdoor Learning. These include coasteering, geocaching, kayaking, bushcraft, surfing, hiking , fishing, and environmental study. They are available to big groups, families or corporate groups.
The National Trust land includes the Bosherston Lakes that are a haven for wildlife with otters, herons, wintering wildfowl and over twenty species of dragonfly. Limestone cliffs from Stackpole Quay to St Govan’s Chapel are an important site for breeding seabirds and the resident chough. There are two sheltered bays with open and wooded sand dunes, plus an older dune formation, Stackpole Warren, perched on the coastal plateau.
One of the undoubted highlights of this part of Pembrokeshire is the stunning Barafundle Beach, unspoiled even by a car park. The nearest one is at Stackpole Quay.
Food and Drink
The Stackpole Inn has a country cottage feel about it; quaint, surrounded by gardens and in a wonderful location. They serve food at lunchtimes and evenings and provide 4 star bed and breakfast accommodation.
The quality home cooked food has earned them a place in many of the top guides including The AA Best Pubs for Food Lovers, the Michelin Guide, the Which? Pub Guide and Country Pubs & Inns of Wales.
They use locally produced food and are part of the Pembrokeshire Produce scheme. The Stackpole Inn is a free house and serves Double Dragon and Best Bitter from Felinfoel, together with Reverend James from Brains plus a guest ale.
The boat house cafe at Stackpole Quay operates during the summer. There’s limited space inside but a nice enclosed courtyard outside. They specialise in fresh local food.
The Stackpole Inn provide B&B and the National Trust have a small complex of self catering properties right by the beach near Stackpole Quay. A selection of self catering cottages are available nearby including a B&B and cottages.
The National Trust Stackpole Estate is nearer to Bosherston. They have a range of self catering accommodation available including a bunkhouse for groups.
The nearest campsite is at St Petrox or there are more at Freshwater East and Bosherston.