Dinas Island in Pembrokeshire is a bit of a misnomer, as it is a small peninsula, rather than an island. However the headland has a wild coastal character that is quite different to the farmlands that it adjoins, so it does feel like a separate island. The Pembrokeshire coast path makes a round of the headland, starting at either Cwm-yr-Eglwys on the east side or Pwllgwaelod on the west. There are car parks at both locations and a short path links the two along a wooded valley, so a circular walk is possible – rare for a coastal walk.
Location and Parking
Post Code: Cwm-Yr-Eglwys – SA42 0SL. Pwllgwaelod – SA42 0SE
Dinas Island is located on the north Pembrokeshire coast, about midway between Newport and Fishguard. This is a very short section of the Pembrokeshire coastal path, but offers the advantage of a circular walk, and makes a pleasant half day outing. Parking is available at both sides of the ‘neck’ of Dinas Isand, at Cwm-yr-Eglwys or Pwllgwaelod. When we visited, we walked from Cwm-Yr-Eglwys, where there is a £2 parking charge. This small village is reached from the A487, and is signposted just east of the Dinas Cross.
Cwm-yr-Eglwys (which means Valley of the Church) is a very attractive hamlet set in a secluded bay at the east end of Newport Bay. Behind the beach are the ruins of St Brynach’s church and a small graveyard. The church dates from the 12th century, but was badly damaged by storms in the mid 19th century, and when further damage occurred in 1979, the church was demolished except for a single wall and bell tower.
The Pembrokeshire coastal path leaves the village on the left side of the bay and climbs above the cliffs, giving good views back to the village. After less than half a mile the path splits, and it is worth taking the lower left path which passes close to Needle Rock – a sea stack which is used as a nesting colony by seagulls, guillemots and razorbills.
Beyond Needle Rock, the path continues to climb giving good views of Newport Bay, until the trig point on Pen y Fan is reached at 142m (465ft). The path now descends with views towards Fishguard Bay and Fishguard itself. Just before arriving at Pwllgwaelod there is a spectacular view down into a small cove with a beach accessible only from the sea.
At Pwllgwaelod there is a small beach and a jetty for launching boats, as well as a cafe and car park. The return to Cwm-yr-Eglwys starts through a gate to the left of the cafe, and continues on a level tarmacked path through a short wooded valley, to the car park at the start of the walk.
The church and graveyard at Cwm-yr-Eglwys also gives the opportunity for some ‘Bram Stoker’ photography.