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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Not long from here, there is a short walk to Pen-y-holt Bay.
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.
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.
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.
In between Pen-y-holt Bay & Hobbyhorse Bay is a natural arch. This natural arch is probably better viewed from the sea.
Just before reaching Hobbyhorse Bay, a piece of land is a site of what was an ancient fort & possibly a settlement.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Dove Shipwreck at Frainslake Sands
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.
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.
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.
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.