What to do in Pembrokeshire on the shortest day of the year
Published: Thursday 18th Dec 2014
Written by: Anita Lee
Midwinters Day occurs on the 21st December, and although it means that there will be the shortest amount of daylight all year, there’s still plenty for those staying in Pembrokeshire holiday cottages to do. Not only will a number of attractions be boasting a festive atmosphere, but some are also enhanced when experienced in the winter.
Make the most of a lie-in
You’re on holiday in a cosy Tenby holiday cottage, and it’s the shortest day of the year – what better excuses could you have for spending a morning in bed? With a fully equipped self-catering kitchen, you could also enjoy a full English breakfast, before heading out to one of the attractions mentioned below.
Head to the pub
There’s no better time to visit a country pub than when the fire is roaring and there is mulled wine and cider to enjoy. Choose from traditional warming menus, and as the shortest day is a Sunday, why not treat yourself to a carvery with a Christmas theme? Haverfordwest’s Griffin Inn boasts spectacular sea views, which can be enjoyed from the warmth of the cosy restaurant for a memorable eating experience.
“There is quite simply no better place to enjoy your locally caught seafood! Much of our seafood is caught by our own fishing boat, “Griffin Girl” and other fishermen supplement this making for a bursting seafood specials board to suit all; from mackerel to turbot, razor clams to scallops, crab to lobster or other treasures the local sea throws at us.
In addition, the Griffin has a bar menu with an excellent choice of home-cooked locally sourced food including vegetarian dishes and a children’s menu as well as a fabulous selection of quality wines real welsh ales.”
Experience the county’s heritage
Pembrokeshire boasts a number of historic places to visit, and these can look just as impressive in a winter setting. From medieval castles to religious buildings, exploring the past of this county can be both fascinating and a great way to explore the landscape. A wonderful example of this is St David’s Cathedral, which sits in an idyllic valley in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
“There has been a church on this site since the 6th century when St David, the patron saint of Wales, founded his monastery. For the past 1500 years prayer and worship has been offered to God on a daily basis, which continues to this day. The present Cathedral was begun between 1180 and 1182 and is constructed in purple Cambrian sandstone. The beautiful tower still guides people today to this place of worship and pilgrimage.
St David’s Cathedral is particularly magical at this time of year as preparations for Christmas begin. There are services throughout the week, including Choral Mattins at 11.15am and Choral Evensong at 6.00pm on December 21st, which all are invited to attend. The Cathedral is open daily for visitors and pilgrims and there is no admission charge.”
Another heritage site well-worth a visit a little before the shortest day of the year is the site of Carew Castle, which is one of the best locations to witness the spectacular glow of the Pembrokeshire sky as the sun rises and sets in winter. Nestled in a stunning location overlooking a 23-acre millpond, the Castle has a rich history spanning 2,000 years.
“Winter is a great time to take a leisurely stroll around the Castle and see its reflection in the magnificent millpond. The one-mile circular route offers fantastic views around the site and with free parking you can take as long you like to take in the view. The Castle will be closed over the festive period from Saturday, December 20th 2014 but will re-open to the public on January 5th 2015.”
Wander along the coast path
Providing the weather remains dry and clear, watching the sun set on the shortest day of the year can be extremely beautiful. Although the majority of Pembrokeshire has a west facing coast, there are a number of locations perfect for watching the sunset, such as Tenby or St Brides Bay, which can both be reached by the Wales Coast Path. However, please bear in mind that the sun will set just before 4pm.
“The Path offers an amazing opportunity to discover lots of Wales' hidden gems. Along the 870 mile stretch, you will discover Wales' past with many of its magnificent castles and churches along the way, the beautiful wildlife that makes the Welsh coast its home and not to mention Wales' own culture and language. And obviously, the crown jewel, the coast line itself with its dramatic and inspiring views of beaches, cliffs and the sea - there's a surprise around on every hill and corner. So, if you're looking for a short Sunday afternoon stroll, or simply somewhere to entertain the kids, the Wales Coast Path is the place to go.”
Make the most of the attractions
As well as being a fantastic attraction to visit during the winter months, the National Botanic Garden of Wales was also awarded ‘dark sky’ status earlier this year, making it an ideal location for star gazing and astronomy. Closing at 4.30pm on Sundays, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore the gardens, as the evening begins to draw in.
“If it’s nice (and calm and blue and cold) the Garden offers tranquil lakeside walks, where there’s always pleasant colour, interesting shape and wonderful wildlife. The unique and historic Double-Walled Garden also offers peace and quiet as well as colour and interest, and if you get a little too chilly, the nearby Tropical House will steam up your glasses and inspire you with its exotic excesses – and pineapple plants, orchids, cardamom, and gingers.
Lord Foster’s Great Glasshouse – the largest single-span glasshouse on the planet – is the all-year-round centrepiece of the Garden. The Mediterranean-climate-zone plants in here come from all over the world. And, right now, they are just beginning to show the signs of the stirrings of a Mediterranean spring. In the Australia zone and in South Africa especially there’s plenty to stimulate ALL the senses, with proteas, kangaroo paw plants, banksias now coming into bloom.”