Be aware of cliff edges
Be very careful close to cliff edges. As you descend towards the coast, remain on the marked footpath. There is no need to cross any wall or fence boundary not indicated.
Total steps: 7
Total steps: 7
Whitesands car park, grid ref: SM734272
From Whitesands car park, go through a gap in the wall on passing the site of St Patrick's Chapel. Climb a sandy slope up on to the cliff path. After about ½ mile (0.8km) you reach a kissing gate and National Trust sign. Continue to the crest of the hill.
From here, you'll see Coetan Arthur, the remains of a Neolithic burial chamber silhouetted against the sky. The main trail route sticks to the coast, descending into the valley ahead via broad steps to a spring above the tiny cove of Porth Melgan. An alternative route heads gently uphill round the back of Carn Llidi with fine views to the east, or adventurous souls can scramble to the summit of this peak.
St David's Head is forged of very old volcanic rock, some of it dates back almost 500 million years. This geology is best represented by Carn Llidi, the towering jagged outcrop, or tor, and in the rocky islands of Ramsey, Bishops and Clerks several miles out to sea.
Cross the stream by a bridge and turn right (north-east) to walk up this valley. This area can be slippery and muddy in winter.
To your right is a marshy area with the typical 'dinosaur egg' shapes of purple moor grass or 'rhos pasture'. This is green in summer and earthy coloured in winter. Higher up, on the flanks of Carn Llidi, you can see ancient field patterns.
Look out for birds such as the stonechat, meadow pipit and skylark in clumps of reedbed and willow. The rare Dartford warbler has also been seen in recent years.
At the highest point here, the peak of Pen Beri and the expanse of Cardigan Bay appears in the distance. Two headlands away is the winking lighthouse of Strumble Head with the peak of Garn Fawr above it. Descend to rejoin the coast path and turn left towards St David's Head.
Heather and gorse turn St David's Head a bright shade of purple and gold in late summer. They also provide a home for butterflies, moths and beetles, plus birds such as stonechat and linnet. Up to 50 Welsh mountain ponies graze St David's Head. They keep the vegetation open and maintain the right conditions for coastal heath plants to thrive, such as heather, gorse and the rare hairy greenweed.
On the plateau a remarkable rockscape opens up. Jagged erratic rocks are mirrored by the rugged profile of Ramsey Island out to sea. North of Ramsey are the little islets called 'Bishops and Clerks', one of which is home to a big lighthouse. Offshore, you might be lucky enough to spot some porpoises or dolphins playing in the waves.
A range of birds breed on the cliffs here each summer. Peregrine falcons, ravens, swifts and choughs are among them. St David's Head is about 15 miles (24km) from Grassholm, one of the largest gannetries in the world, with 34,000 breeding pairs of gannets. You can often see these birds feeding close to St David's Head as they plunge into the sea for mackerel, making a very large splash.
The route eventually passes Coetan Arthur and descends to an Iron Age coastal fort at the end of the peninsula. Continue on the coast path, returning to Porth Melgan. Retrace your route from here back to Whitesands beach.
Coetan Arthur is a Neolithic burial chamber dating from about 4,000 BC. It has a huge capstone almost 20ft (6m) wide, supported by a side stone over 1 metre tall. It was almost certainly built this way, with one end resting on the ground, as an 'earthfast' megalith. It mimics the shape of Carn Llidi behind it. This coastline has a rich prehistoric past. There are also remains of ancient field patterns, enclosures and defensive banks dotted all around.
Whitesands car park, grid ref: SM734272
Clear route on rugged coastal paths, with some rocky bits, slopes and 70 steps.
Whitesands, near St David's, Pembrokeshire, Wales
On the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Celtic Coaster shuttle bus, St David's to Whitesands beach, April to September.
2 miles (3.2km) north-west of St David’s city, at end of B4583.
Dogs welcome, but please keep them on leads where livestock are grazing and take dog mess home.
Whitesands car park, pay and display (not National Trust).
Toilets in Whitesands car park (not National Trust).
This trail is not suitable for wheelchairs. It consists of a coastal and countryside pathway with naturally uneven, rugged surfaces. The terrain is rough and steep and/or narrow in places. There are 70 steps and the cliff edges are not fenced.
Designated accessible spaces available in Whitesands car park (not National Trust).
Mobility toilet at Whitesands car park (not National Trust).
Benches are dotted around the coastline.
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