Castlemartin Range (Range West) Coastline Walk


Castlemartin Ranges (Range West) Coastline Walk

Castlemartin Ranges, a lovely long stretch of a walk along the Pembrokeshire Coast.  Restricted to everyone except military personnel, due to the area being in constant use for firing by various regiments throughout the year.  You can walk along this restricted stretch when accompanied by members of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.  These friendly & very knowledgeable members guide you along the hidden treasures that lie along this almost untouched & rugged coastline including some of the features inland.  They are also very knowledgeable about nature, always on the lookout for anything that will be of interest to visitors on this beautiful stretch of the Pembrokeshire coastline.

Location of Castlemartin Ranges (Range West) Coastline walk

The parking area for the Castlemartin Ranges Coastline Walk (Range West) is the same place where you would typically park to see Green Bridge of Wales or Elegug Stacks on the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.  From Pembroke, take the B4319 until you reach a camp entrance.  Carry straight on for another mile until you reach a left turn.  Follow this (Ermigate Lane) for about two miles until you reach a car park.

Getting Started

Getting a place for this walk can be difficult, so when I saw one advertised I got my name down straight away, I have always seen images of the area & always wanted to explore this stretch of coastline walk myself.  I was not disappointed.  It is a very long walk, about eight miles, so expect to be out all day & bring plenty of food/water including waterproofs in case the worst happens.  If it does rain or the weather is terrible, a minibus will still take you around, stopping at regular spots.

The route begins at stack rocks & green bridge of Wales.

The Wash

Just near Green Bridge of Wales is a gate that is locked, this is where the route begins after a little talk and brief.  It is about a mile on the coastline along Flimston Down before reaching a small rocky bay called ‘The Wash’ that has a lot of fossils to see.  It’s fascinating, some of these fossils are believed to be from many thousands of years ago.  The guide put a coin down by a fossil for me to use as an example of how big it is.  We also found a rock that had bones embedded in the stone, pretty amazing stuff!

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One of the stone fossils with a coin being used for comparison. There are a lot of these examples at The Wash.

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Another fossil but this time on the cliff line.  A Lot of these around.

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Fossil bones in a large stone at the bay. We came across this one by accident, a great find.

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Lots of fossils can are evident on the rock face around ‘The Wash’.

Looking at the bay where fossils are discovered.  The Wash is rugged and rough like it has been untouched for a long time. You will notice the lines along the cliff face. It is very similar to how trees make lines to define the age, but it is more difficult to predict how old these lines are.

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Another view of ‘The Wash’ from a different angle.

Mount Sion Down

After looking around ‘The Wash’, it was a walk along Mount Sion Down where there are some caves, but on the day of the trail, only one was viewable due to access restrictions.  There is also evidence of how this piece of land looked before it became militarised.  In an image below you can see an old wall.

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A wall along Mount Sion Down. One of perhaps a few parts of the remaining evidence that life once existed here before it converted to a military range.

Walking on Castlemartin Range

Moving further on, a few more crevices will be spotted including spent ammunition left on the ground; caution should be taken when approaching these, the images below of the ammunition are from a safe distance.

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A primarily used prac round, probably 120mm, left in the grass, reminded me of the days when I used to fire on this range. Who knows, it could have been me that shot this round all those years ago!

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Another used 120mm prac round, this has seen better days.

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Another prac round on Range West.

Bulliber Down

Not too far away from Pen-y-holt Bay is Bulliber Down with a small crevice type bay that contains caves. There are also essential views showcasing the Castemartin peninsula including Pen-y-holt.

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A view of Castlemartin Range West Peninsula from Bulliber Bay. In the distance is Pen-y-holt Bay with a stack.

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A view of the bay at Bulliber Down.

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A look down at Bulliber Bay. On the right is a naturally created platform.

Not long from here, there is a short walk to Pen-y-holt Bay.

Pen-y-holt Down

Pen-y-holt Down has a lot to offer for the person who is interested in coastline features.  Firstly, there is Pen-y-holt Bay With Pen-y-holt stack that looks like it is about to topple over any minute.  Next to Pen-y-holt stack is Cabin Door.  Cabin Door was once a coastal feature that had its arch collapsed.  Also, a disused quarry is on the other side of Pen-holt bay & you can see evidence of quarry work undertaken in the past.

A little further on & you will be able to see evidence of an ancient fort & settlement.  Just before reaching Linney Head, there is Hobbyhorse Bay.

Pen-y-holt Stack

Pen-y-Holt stack on the Castlemartin ranges. When I saw this at first, I could not believe how this was standing on its own for so many years.  The stack is however quite well protected due to the submerged ledges nearby & a platform helping it to resist the beating of the most energetic waves during the winter periods.

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Another view of the Pen-y-holt stack rock, a little close up this time.

Cabin Door

A landscape feature of the Pembrokeshire Coastline that has now since collapsed is Cabin Door on Pen-y-holt Bay.  It had a natural arch along the top.  The date of when Cabin Door collapsed is unknown, but it is believed to be around circa early 20th century.

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Remains of Cabin Door to the right of Pen-y-holt stack at Pen-y-holt Bay on Castlemartin Range West in Pembrokeshire.

Pen-y-holt Bay

Pen-y-holt bay is a rocky bay with a collapsed look on one end.  There was, at one time, a quarry operation in place nearby.

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View before entering the central section of Pen-y-holt bay, although it is connected to the bay.

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Heart of Pen-y-holt Bay.  On the right of the cliff line in the image, there would have been Pen-y-holt Quarry, now disused.

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A closer view of the area of cliff line at Pen-y-holt bay that looks as though it has collapsed.

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Taking a break & sitting on the rocks at Pen-y-holt bay.  Crow Rock can just about be seen in the distance.

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A closer look at Crow Rock located off Pen-y-holt Bay & Hobbyhorse Bay. There are a few shipwrecks near this rock as well.

Looking back at Pen-y-holt Bay while continuing the walk.

Natural Arch

In between Pen-y-holt Bay & Hobbyhorse Bay is a natural arch.  This natural arch is probably better viewed from the sea.

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A view of the natural arch along Range West on Castlemartin Ranges.

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Portrait view of the natural arch while looking out to sea.

Ancient Fort

Just before reaching Hobbyhorse Bay, a piece of land is a site of what was an ancient fort & possibly a settlement.

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A site of an ancient fort before reaching Hobbyhorse Bay.

Hobbyhorse Bay

Hobbyhorse bay is an exciting bay to view while walking along Range West.  This bay has a stack in almost the middle of the bay.  This stack has a resemblance to a hobbyhorse and a reason why this place is called Hobbyhorse bay.

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Hobbyhorse Bay on the Castlemartin Range Coastline walk. It was named hobbyhorse bay because the stack on the beach looks like a hobbyhorse.

Heading to Linney Head

Walking to Linney Head, there are more natural arches, some which are viewed from the edge.  There is also old technology dotted around such as an item that resembles a pulley system to perhaps move targets from one place to another.

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A view of more natural arches.

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You can imagine the blowhole effect when severe storms hit Pembrokeshire by viewing this natural arch from this angle.

An old pulley system once used on the ranges of Castlemartin.

Linney Head

At Linney Head, there are great views of the coastline & a blockhouse.  Linney Head Blockhouse has had varied uses over the years though it’s primary role is to observe marine traffic while firing is in place.  It also involved in other tasks such as receiving incoming transmissions.

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View at Linney Head. Note the small natural door at the bottom. This has been referred to as ‘magic door’.

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A closer look at the naturally created door. The magic door.

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Linney Head Blockhouse.

Heading to Blucks Pool

The walk from Linney Head to Bluckspool was mainly on a road which unfortunately was away from the coast, so I could not get anything of interest from the shore.  But places of interest are Linney Down & some disused blockhouses.  There is also Wind Bay, Hanging Tar, Brimstone Rock & Berry Slade.  There is also a disused lime kiln.

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Walking to Blucks Pool.

Blucks Pool Bay

Blucks Pool Bay is a small beach that is, for the most part, rocky & sandy in the middle.  The sand on this beach is very sharp and grainy.  When holding the sand in your hands, it very quickly falls out.  Walking across the beach is also tricky as you sink into this fine grain sand.  Nearby to Blucks Pool Bay was a Coastguard Station & a Rocket Apparatus Station.  The site of the Coastguard station has since gone with any traces covered by rough undergrowth.

The Rocket Apparatus Station was adjacent to the Coastguard Station.  It operated as a lifesaving apparatus by throwing a line to ships from the shore.  It was fitted with rockets and Breeches Buoy equipment.  These devices were manned by local volunteers.

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Rocket Apparatus Station.

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Getting closer to Blucks Pool Beach on Castlemartin Range Coastline Walk.

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Another view of Blucks Pool with a water overflow in view.

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Walking along the beach at Blucks Pool was a challenge as the sand was so grainy. It was very dry and elegant when picked up; it made walking over to the other side of the beach a challenge.

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Looking out to sea from Blucks Pool Beach.

John Adams & Blucks Pool

I was contacted in July 2017 with a question regarding Blucks Pool by a member of the Museum Wales about the name of this beach.  A little further up in this article, I named the small cove area below the blockhouse at Linney Head as Linney Bay (since edited) as this looked very similar to a bay but with no access.  The reason for contacting me was to confirm this was the actual name of the bay I referred to but having checked myself on old maps; I could not make any reference.

Another reason for contacting me was to confirm this was perhaps the area that John Adams (1769-1798), who was a member of the Linnean Society, used this beach to collect marine snails.  John Adams of Holyland, Pembroke, was a member of landed gentry family with marriage links to the Cawdors of Stackpole.  John Adams died in 1798 after drowning while dredging for shells.  It is believed that this event happened in the Pennar Gut area.

John Adams Work

John Adams refers to collecting marine snails at Linny Bay, and this was where the slight confusion began as there is no reference to a Linny Bay, or Linney Bay in recent maps.  After looking at a map dated from 1908, there is still no reference to anything called Linny Bay in the area.  After looking at the other bays, this would have been the area that John Adams would have collected his microscopic marine snails or landed, as he must have been able to get to the shore level, at both The Wash and Linney.

Also of interest is why John Adams called this Linny bay in his notes?  He may have just only referred to it like that, or there has been a change of name between 1789, the date he published in his paper, up to 1908 where a map from around the same era is viewed as showing this bay as Bluckspool Bay.  Until I get earlier maps which is hard to come by at this time, this would be pure speculation over the name.  However, this would have been the bay he would have used due to easy access from land and sea.

Frainslake Sands

After leaving Blucks Pool, you then head over to the next beach, Frainslake Sands, only a short walk away.  It is also connected to Freshwater West, but not accessible from Freshwater West due to it being on the line of the ranges nearby.  There is also a petrified forest from thousands of years ago before the sea took it over.  There are also some buildings that were used for training during World War 2.

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This building was used for training exercises during World War 2.  The Castlemartin area was used extensively for training purposes during world war 2. Recently (2016), a lot of remnants of World War 2 was uncovered from the sand at freshwater West during the storms.

Another one of the World War two posts. Unfortunately, this has been a little beaten by nature.

View of the rugged rocks between Bluckspool & Frainslake Bay.  This is known as The Pole.

The Dove Shipwreck at Frainslake Sands

I Saw this wreck on Frainslake Sands. After doing a little research and asking if this could be remains of the wooden schooner ‘WAVE’, it is, in fact, the wreck of the Dove.  The Dove was caught in a force gale ten storms in 1859 and wrecked on the beach. Also interesting to note is the pole on top of the wreck. This pole is known as a ‘snake’.  A minefield clearance device used by 79 Armoured Division during Autumn 1943 for Overlord, the invasion of Europe.  Credit to Adrian James for explaining the rod device.
Update 10/05/16- This wreck is identified as being highly more probable the ‘Dove’ due to the size being too small for the WAVE. The Dove was a sloop that broke her back while en-route from Saundersfoot to Wicklow in 1841. It is also possible the Dove had been renamed from ‘ARIADNE’ when it was sold off from P/D coal hulk. More information here.

Frainslake Mill

Straight after leaving Frainslake Sands, Frainslake Mill is not too far away.  Frainslake Mill is a post-medieval corn mill located on the Castlemartin range.  Frainslake Mill is flooded by the creation of a lake nearby.  It is a beautiful & tranquil area.  Considering its location, it has a natural beauty about it.

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Approaching Frainslake Mill from Frainslake Sands.

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Another view of Frainslake Mill on Castlemartin Range West.

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Another one of Frainslake Mill.

Frainslake Mill to Brownslade farm

After leaving Frainslake Mill, it was time to make our way to Brownslade Farm, a disused farm.  A Grade II building since 1995, it was the home of the Mirehouse tenancy on the Campbell (Cawdor) Estate.  It has been unoccupied since 1938; it is mostly now in ruins with Brownslade House long since demolished.  More information on the coflein website.

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An old lime kiln not too far away from Frainslake Mill on the Castlemartin range coastline walk.

Woodland on the Castlemartin range walk.

Brownslade Farm

Brownslade Farm has long since been abandoned.  It has lost the roofs on the buildings, but the walls are very much erect in a moderate state.

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The entrance to Brownslade Farm on the Castlemartin range in Pembrokeshire.

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Approaching Brownslade Farm on the Castlemartin coastline walk.

After leaving Browslade Farm, it was time for a short walk to the minibus ready for the journey home after walking Castlemartin Range West.  Range West is an exciting walk with plenty to see along with a rich history of what was in the area before it turned into a military range.

If you would like to walk this yourself, then please visit the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Events Page for latest information & dates.

I have spent some time updating the information on this page to ensure there are no inaccuracies.  If you wish to inquire about the data, images or anything else, then please contact me.

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