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Facts About the National Park

Frequently asked questions - students

The following answers give an introduction to some of the commonly asked questions about the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. If you can’t find what you are looking for here why not try the subject pages for geography, history, science or sustainability. These pages give detailed information and facts about the Pembrokeshire coast, its people and wildlife, and some of the issues that affect them. There are some great pictures of the county too, to help you visualise more easily what it is like here.

1. How long has the Pembrokeshire Coast been a National Park?

The Pembrokeshire Coast was designated a National Park in 1952. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority became a separate authority in April 1996. There are 14 National Parks in total in Britain and the Pembrokeshire Coast was the first predominantly coastal National Park, recognising the special qualities of the coastline in this part of West Wales.

2. How big is the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park?

The National Park is 612 square kilometres in area and stretches from St. Dogmaels on the Ceredigion border in the north to Amroth in the south. It includes the Cleddau Waterway, an estuary and river system that flows from the Preseli Hills in the north of Pembrokeshire to the coast beyond Milford Haven.

3. How many people live in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park?

There are approximately 22,542 people living in the National Park – it is one of the most densely populated National Parks in the UK. However, there are only two large settlements within the park, the city of St Davids, and the town of Tenby. Elsewhere the population live in small villages and isolated farms and hamlets.

4. Who owns the National Park?

The majority of the land in the National Park is in private ownership. The National Park Authority owns just a small percentage of the land in the park. Other landowners include the County Council and the National Trust. The National Park Authority works with landowners, and acts as the planning and regulatory body for development within the park.

5. What wildlife is there in the National Park?

The Pembrokeshire Coast has a wide range of habitats which makes it a very good home for lots of different plants and animals. These habitats include the marine environment, coastal heath, beaches and sand dunes, the Cleddau Estuary, rivers and marshes, upland areas, offshore islands, farmland, and small pockets of woodland. The relatively unspoiled coastal strip, which has avoided many of the changes and intensification in agricultural practices since the Second World War, is home to plants, insects, birds and mammals that have disappeared from many other parts of the UK. The marine environment supports a rich diversity of life, and the many offshore islands support colonies of sea birds, including the puffin and guillemot, and also the Manx Shearwater, 45% of the world's population of which breeds on the island of Skomer.

6. How many people visit the National Park each year?

There are around 7.2 million day visits to the National Park every year and some estimates are even larger! Of these 1.1 million are holiday makers. The location of Pembrokeshire in the extreme west of Wales makes it a county that is difficult to reach by road, without a long car journey. Thus, most of the visitors to the National Park are on holiday in the area. It is also estimated that residents of Pembrokeshire make over 500,000 day visits within the National Park annually.

7. What makes the National Park so special?

There is no doubt that the Pembrokeshire CoastNational Park is a very special place. But what makes it so special is a personal thing and differs from one person to another. Some of these ‘special qualities’ are listed below:

  • the sights, sounds and smells of the sea, with unspoilt coastline and views of the spectacular coastal scenery and offshore islands
  • international recognition as one of the ecologically richest and most diverse parts of Wales, with a diversity of plants and animals of international importance including marine species and rare birds
  • a unique historic and cultural heritage, the legacy of which, the castles, churches and prehistoric landscape, can be visited
  • it is the only National Park in the UK that is mainly coastal, with no place more than ten miles from the sea.
  • all 44 beaches meeting the EU bathing water quality standard and more than 30 meeting the higher guideline water quality standards. 11 having the Blue Flag Award
  • wonderful opportunities for quiet recreation, and for the more 'upbeat', activity breaks including climbing, sailing, and coasteering
  • a healthy environment: fresh air, clean water, local produce, tranquillity, a sense of 'wilderness' and low levels of urbanisation interesting literary, artistic and scientific connections

8. How long is the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail?

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail offers unique access to the entire Pembrokeshire Coast. Stretching from St. Dogmaels to Amroth on the Carmarthenshire border the trail is 299 km long, and provides access to the 420 km of coastline, from sweeping beaches to majestic cliffs and quiet coves. The path was opened in May 1970.