St Davids City

Short Walk

DISTANCE/DURATION: 3.0 miles (4.8 km) 1 hour 30 minutes.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Service bus St Davids 411, *Puffin Shuttle 400, *Celtic Coaster 403, *Strumble Shuttle 404 (*seasonal, hail & ride).
CHARACTER: Easy to moderate, paved and natural footpaths, quiet lanes, bridleways, 0.9 mile (1.5 km) minor road walking.
CAUTION crossing main road at three points.
LOOK OUT FOR: St Davids Cathedral and valley, Bishops Palace, attractive old cottages views over Ramsey Island, Clegyr Boia (ancient settlement) and St Brides Bay.

The little city, with its cathedral and ruined bishop’s palace, has to be one of the most magical places in Britain.

The view from the cathedral gate is breathtaking with the cathedral itself tucked into the valley below and, to the west, the outline of St Davids Head and Carn Llidi.

Most cathedrals dominate their setting, but St Davids was built in a valley on the site of David’s Christian community.

In the time of Viking raids the location would have had the advantage of being hard to find. David established his community alongside the River Alun in the 6th century.

It grew in importance after his death and for centuries pilgrims travelled to pay homage at his shrine.

David was canonised in 1120 when it was decreed that two pilgrimages to the saint’s shrine equalled one pilgrimage to Rome.

Work on a great cathedral to replace the earlier monastic church started in 1180.

The cathedral by the Alun has been rebuilt, enlarged and embellished over the centuries.

Just across the river is the impressive 14th century Bishop’s Palace, in ruins since the 16th century and now occupied by a community of noisy, inquisitive jackdaws.

The route follows wooded Merry Vale. The small crag above the valley is called Clegyr Boia, an outcrop of very old volcanic rock.

It is said to have been a stronghold of St David’s adversary Boia, a Celtic chieftain. David managed to convert Boia’s followers, but not the pagan chief himself. He died a follower of the old faith.

St Davids is a fascinating place with some 200 listed buildings. In the past it was called a city because it had a cathedral, but locals have only been able to officially call their community a city since 1995.

Find this walk

Grid ref: SM753252


  • Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
  • Guard against all risk of fire
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Keep your dogs under close control
  • Keep to public paths across farmland
  • Take your litter home