Saturday, 1 November 2014


The small village of Dale lies on a sheltered bay near St Ann's Head, with local beaches suitable for all kinds of waterborne activities. The oil refineries of Milford Haven can be seen in the distance from the beachfront. The village church, the Church of St James the Great, dates from at least the 13th century. The churchyard contains the remains of countless unknown shipwreck victims, including those who perished during the great storm of 1868. There is an inverted ship's bell on the south wall which was presented to the church by the Navy in 1960; the bell was used as a font in the chapel of nearby HMS Harrier until it closed that year. To the west of the church a path leads to Westdale Bay with a sandy beach and red sandstone cliffs, which is overlooked by the site of a huge Iron Age fort.

Between Dale and St Ishmael's is the Gann Estuary, a treat for birdwatchers with wading birds including little stint, curlew and sandpiper. Otters breed in the reedbeds and there is also the chance to catch sight of a kingfisher in the upper reaches. The area around St Ishmael's has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and there are numerous relics from different points in history since that time, including standing stones, ancient graves and the iron age forts of Great Castle Head and Little Castle Head. The remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle lie on the spot known as St Ishmael's Tump. The village and its church are named after a 6th century Cornish saint who went on to become the Bishop of St David's. A pathway leads from the church to the tiny cove of Monk Haven, where traders and pilgrims used to land on their way to St David's. Another sandy bay in the area is Lindsway Bay, where in 1955 the Queen visited during her Coronation Tour, and Princess Anne and Prince Charles took their first steps on Welsh soil. In August 1973 at nearby Longberry Point the tanker Donna Marika went aground during stormy weather. Some of the local villagers had to be evacuated because the tanker was full of aviation spirit, and there was a risk of an explosion occurring due to the violence of the storm.

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Monk Haven. Photo by Robin Lucas, via Wikimedia Commons

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