A few years ago I completed the long walk starting from the village of Dale & walked the entire Dale Peninsula. It was, and still is, one of my favourite hikes in Pembrokeshire. There is so much to see in this area. From old buildings & structures built during World War Two to buildings that date back to a few hundred years, it’s all here! This time I only did a small portion, covering the St Anns Head area by the lighthouse, to the old Airfield with connections to the RAF & Navy.
St Anns Head
Dale Peninsula is near enough a remote area, and if it weren’t for a small piece of land connecting it with Pembrokeshire, it would be an island of its own. One particular area that is of interest is St Anns Head with its two lighthouses. One is still in operation and managed by Trinity House. The older one is decommissioned but operated as a holiday let. Getting to St Anns Head is easy enough, just head to the end of Dale village and take a left, then follow the road until you see a car park. It is advised to use this car park rather than continuing as the road is pretty tight & will get congested. It only takes ten to fifteen minutes on the smooth way to get to the lighthouses.
Map of the Car Park at St Anns Head.
St Anns Head Lighthouse
The current lighthouse that is in operation is only a few yards away from the former lighthouse. It is private property so don’t trespass without permission first. You can walk around it though and get to the cliff line. But also take caution when taking this track, it is tiny and slippery in wet weather. There are also terraced houses or cottages as they are better known right next to the lighthouse that would have housed the employees of the lighthouse before it became automated in 1998.
St Anns Head Old Lighthouse
Not too far away from the operational lighthouse is the former lighthouse. Constructed in 1714, St Anns Head Old Lighthouse helped seafaring vessels from getting too close to the cliffs until a new one was built in 1844. In current times, it is now a holiday let with the lighthouse section being the main attraction. It has been converted to be able to sit at the top and take in the beautiful views of the Peninsula & Pembrokeshire coast.
Argand Burners powered the light for the old lighthouse. The fire from the Argand Burners was used with parabolic silver copper reflectors intensifying the brightness. A total of twenty reflectors were in place, each measuring twenty and a half inches in diameter.
After walking around St Anns Head, I then headed back to drive a few miles to Dale Airfield. Again it is easy to find. As you enter dale village carry on until you see Dale Castle, then take a left and carry on going until the road ends. There are spaces available for cars, but it is limited.
Once parked, there is a very tight entrance to the airfield. A reason for this is to stop anyone who fancies taking a bike or anything else to race along the old airstrip. It takes about five minutes until you begin walking on the strip itself. Most of it is also privately owned so take care where you step. Dale Airfield is well signposted, so getting lost would be hard to do.
Walking Around Dale Airfield
I spent a good hour or two here. The walk and the views are great, especially when you get to the corner of Dale Airfield to see Marloes Sands. It’s notably better to know when the tide has not entirely hidden the lush sands here. In total the sands are just over a mile in length and a great walk if you decide to venture that way.
History of Dale Airfield
During World War Two there were some airfields constructed around Pembrokeshire. Some of these airfields still survive, while others have been left to be reclaimed by nature. Dale Airfield, except for Brawdy is probably one of the better examples of surviving airfields in Pembrokeshire that have also been untouched by industry or buildings.
Construction of RAF Dale commenced in 1941 & opened in June 1942. It was a satellite Landing Ground for nearby RAF Talbenny. A lot of the buildings resided in the North West of the runway. Only one squadron was based here, 304 Squadron, a Polish bomber Unit flying Vickers/Warwick Wellingtons. The Squadron & RAF were not here for very long as they moved out in March 1943. They transferred to RAF Docking that same month.
After this, the Navy took over the airfield duties and renamed RNAS Dale. Coastal Command Development Unit deployed on the airfield along with some Naval Air Squadrons, but it’s primary role as an airfield was as a flying school. 790 Squadron was the last to occupy the airbase until closure in December 1947. There was still a small Naval presence afterwards though as they always had equipment storage until the 1960’s.
Some of the buildings are still there, but used either by the farm owners or just left to be overgrown. The RAF officers’ accommodation blocks & the Battle Headquarters remain. These buildings are also listed.
While not a part of the Dale Peninsula Walk, it is visible on the corner of Dale Airfield. It would be rude not to include it here. Marloes Sands is a lush sandy area that spans just over a mile in length. It is also accessible to walkers if you decide to walk it one day. Marloes Sands also gains a lot of interest from geologists.
The final stop while heading back to the car is Westdale Bay. Westdale Bay can be viewed very well while walking along the edge of the coastline and is also a favourite visiting place for tourists in the summer. There is also a car park close to the beach if you decide to park up & it’s not too far from the Dale Airfield parking too.
St Annes Head To Dale Airfield would take probably two hours if walking casually. I stayed around the area for the best part of the day as I was also taking photographs. St Anns Head & Dale Airfield is a great place to visit if you decide to walk or plan to stay in Pembrokeshire. Thanks for reading. If you would like to use any images or enquire about them, please contact me.
Some useful links to sites that have more information on the places I visited.
Trinity House – Information on the history of St Anns Head and it’s lighthouses.
Airfields of Britain – Information on the history and use of Dale Airfield.
Coflein – Further information about Dale Airfield.