Walking down through the centre of St David's, you get the impression of a typical large Welsh village, with a couple of pubs, a small but select range of shops, cafes and restaurants, and rows of rustic cottages. However, when you reach the end of the main street, the sight that greets you makes it obvious that this is no ordinary village. In fact, St David's is a city, thanks to the beautiful cathedral nestling in a dip just off the bottom of the main street. The cathedral dates from the 12th century, and the adjoining ruins of the Bishop's Palace date mainly from the 14th century. The patron saint of Wales, St David founded a monastery in this spot in the 6th century, and during the Middle Ages St David's became a place of pilgrimage. Another ecclesiastical site to the south of the city, St Non's Chapel, is reputed to be the birthplace of St David's mother, and it has a healing well.
Aside from the city's religious heritage, the other main draw is the nearby RSPB Reserve of Ramsey Island. Boat trips to the island can be booked from ticket offices in St David's, and they leave from St Justinian, around a mile from the city. We went on one of these trips the first time we visited St David's and, although the seals were not on view on that occasion, the knowledgable guide gave a fascinating insight into the abundant birdlife of the island, which includes guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. There are sheep and deer grazing on the island, which provide an ideal habitat for lapwings and other birds. To the northeast of the city is St David's Head, where there is a Neolithic cromlech and an Iron Age fort, near a stone rampart called The Warrior's Dyke. The headland was once part of an ancient route linking Pembrokeshire to Salisbury Plain.
Map of the area.
|Britain's most rural cathedral setting|