Porth Clais

Half Day + Walk

DISTANCE/DURATION: 3.4 miles (5.5 km) 2 hours.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: *Celtic Coaster 403 (*seasonal, hail & ride), St Davids Park & Ride (seasonal).
CHARACTER: Coastal walk, cliff edge in places, fields and livestock.
LOOK OUT FOR: Historic harbour/lime kilns, St Non’s Chapel and cliffs.

The superb natural harbour of Porth Clais served as St Davids’ port for centuries.

The valley (ria) was carved out by glacial meltwater and drowned by rising sea level at the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago.

Vikings knew its sheltered fjord-like anchorage more than 1,000 years ago, as did peaceful pilgrims who came to St Davids seeking spiritual renewal.

Here it is said St David was baptised by St Elvis, Bishop of Munster. During the baptism water gushed from nearby rocks, splashing the eyes of a blind monk holding the infant David and his sight was restored.

This spring Ffynnon Dewi or David’s Well – lies near the car park on private land.

Until the early 20th century, trading ships in the busy harbour brought in coal, timber and limestone and exported farm produce and woollen cloth.

The ruined St Non’s Chapel lies near David’s reputed birthplace. Non was David’s mother, daughter of a local chieftain.

Legend says David was born under a ruined cromlech, after Non was cast out for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. At the moment of birth a violent thunderstorm occurred and a spring gushed from the earth.

St Non’s Well still flows today and is said to have healing powers. The nearby Victorian house is now a passionist retreat, and the neighbouring Chapel of our Lady was built in 1934 in the style of a medieval pilgrimage chapel.

Porth Lisgi farm takes its name from the nearby bay. Lisgi was an early Irish raider who reputedly captured and beheaded his fellow Irish warlord Boia, whose encampment was on a nearby hill now known as Clegyr Boia.

Boia laid claim to the Alun valley where David established his monastery. Boia sent his warriors to evict the saint and his followers but they never succeeded; Boia eventually converted to Christianity himself.

Phil Lees, North Sector Senior Ranger for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, says: “This is a superb stilefree walk which is steeped in the rich history of this fascinating peninsula. At its best in spring when the coastal flowers between Porth Clais and St Non’s provide a riot of colour, turning the cliffs into spectacular rock gardens.

“Watch out for ravens, fulmars and choughs as they wheel above the cliffs. On clear days there are spectacular views across St Brides Bay to the Marloes Peninsula and Skomer, and to the gannetry on Grassholm, which sticks out like an iced bun on the horizon.”

Find this walk

Grid ref: SM739237

SAFETY FIRST!

  • Take great care when on the Coast Path
  • Stay on the path and away from cliff edges
  • Wear boots and warm, waterproof clothing
  • Take extra care in windy and/or wet conditions
  • Always supervise children and dogs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them