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A secret chapel hidden in the rocks of Pembrokeshire

Posted by Luci Ackers on 16 May 2016
Related property: St Brides Castle
A secret chapel hidden in the rocks of Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire's celebrated coastline is arguably one of the greatest in the world. This stunning National Park was the first of its kind, designated purely for its coastline, and is worth visiting at least once in your lifetime. It has previously been ranked amongst the greatest in the world by a panel of National Geographic magazine experts, beating Costa Rica to tie second place with New Zealand's Tutukaka Coast. Along with dramatic sea cliffs and stunning wooded estuaries, Pembrokeshire is home to incredible beaches which have also been the recipients of a number of awards. Tenby beach in particular is a firm favourite with travel awards; golden sands, sheltered inlets and rugged scenery make many of the beaches on Wales' west coast an absolute pleasure to visit.

When staying at St. Brides the coast will, no doubt, be one of the highlights of your holiday. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail runs right past St. Brides Castle and will fuel you with endless walks. But for something a little different head round the coast a little way to discover a secret chapel made of stone...

St. Govan's Chapel

If you venture south about an hour's drive, across the Milford Haven Waterway and through Pembroke, down to Bosherston you can explore a beautiful part of the coast that is home to a number of hidden gems. About a mile south of Bosherston you'll find a little car park and from here can make your way down a higgledy-piggledy flight of steps (the number of which is rumoured to change depending on the direction in which you are climbing), that descend the cliffs. You will come to a tiny old chapel which has been built into the limestone rock, perched on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the water.

St Govan’s chapel Pembrokeshire sunset view

St Govan’s chapel history

The story goes that Govan was a monk who had travelled to Pembrokeshire and was in this spot on the cliffs when he was set upon by pirates. The rocks opened and a small cave appeared for him to hide in until the danger had passed. As a sign of gratitude Govan decided to stay here on the cliffs in order to always warn the locals of any imminent attacks. The chapel you see today is said to have been built over Govan's cave in the 13th century, though it's thought the site could have been a place of monastic importance since the 5th century.

Hewn from local stone and crafted delicately amongst the cliffs, this little chapel is being gradually reclaimed by the rocks. Through the small doorway you'll find two little chambers, and as you wander its rugged surroundings you'll be able to continue downwards to the outcroppings at the base of the cliffs - but do go careful!

St Govan’s chapel rocks and sea

St Govan’s chapel walks

If you really fancy stretching your legs and enjoying the sea air, there's plenty more to see. Rejoin the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and follow it (heading out on St. Govan's Head if you want) until you come to Broadhaven Beach. What has been a walk of dramatic cliff views now gives way to grassy sand dunes. Depending on the weather you could stop here for a beach picnic or paddle.

Pembrokeshire beach

Bosherston Lakes

When you continue to curve inland you'll next come to the Bosherston Lakes with their marvellous displays of waterlilies and their lovable resident otters. It's a really beautiful area to explore, now part of a National Nature Reserve and cared for by the National Trust. Enjoy the change of scenery as you wander the wooded pathways and take in the peaceful lakeside habitats. When you eventually come to return to your car, loop round via the village of Bosherston in order to make use of facilities or stop in at the café for a pick-me-up cuppa.

Bosherston Lakes bridge

This is a great little adventure that includes a whole range of scenery, an assortment of walking terrain and interesting history too! Take a look on google maps at the route. Also, you can check our guide on the best short walks in Pembrokeshire to discover other stunning walks.

Discover all the wonders of Pembrokeshire for yourself. If you would like to find out how to stay at St. Brides, simply enter your details below.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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