The pretty seaside village of Saundersfoot sits at the foot of a wooded valley in one of the most beautiful areas of the country, the Pembrokeshire Coast National park, just 3 miles from it's larger and more famous neighbour, Tenby. Along with Tenby, Saundersfoot is one of Pembrokeshire's most popular holiday resorts, thanks mainly to it's clean, sandy beaches.
Lets face it, most people come to Saundersfoot for the sun, sea and sand. Well, it might not always be sunny, but the sea and sand will always be there.
Beaches play such a prominent role in Saundersfoot life that, when yours truly was a young whipper snapper, the school houses were named after the local beaches - Monkstone, Coppet and Glen. They probably still are today.
Saundersfoot's main beach is a beautiful, clean, sandy, Blue Flag beach right at the heart of the village. The beach is incredibly popular all year round, particularly so in the height of summer when, on a hot sunny day, the sea front resembles the opening credits of Baywatch.
This beach is ideal if convenience is your primary concern. It's easy to access (there are several car parks in Saundersfoot), and being so close to the village centre, there are plenty of places to go for a drink or something to eat (the Old Chemist Inn backs out on to the beach, with a lovely beer garden looking out), and plenty of shops, just in case you've forgotten that bucket and spade.
Coppet Hall Beach
If, however, you would rather something a little quieter, then you can head down the beach, away from the centre of Saundersfoot, across a small stream to Coppet Hall, another Blue Flag beach. Coppet Hall has a fairly large car park right by the beach, toilets, and often a little shack selling drinks, ice-cream, buckets and spades, etc. Coppet Hall has lots of rock pools, so it's great for kids who like to hunting for crabs and all of the other little creatures that inhabit them.
The other side of Saundersfoot, at the far side of Saundersfoot Harbour, is Glen Beach. When the tide is out, this beach can be accessed by a path leading down from the far corner of the harbour, or, when the tide is right out, by walking round the front of the harbour wall. If the tide is in, you'll have to go up and out of the village, heading up St. Brides Lane (the big hill that runs up round the back of the harbour), past St. Brides Hotel, and then back down The Glen, all the way to the bottom and on to the beach. Easily walkable, but St. Bride's Lane and The Glen are fairly steep hills, so you're probably better off waiting for the tide to go out.
Further along the coast, past Glen beach is Monkstone Point. Monkstone Point is the last outcrop of land that you can see when looking South-East down the coast from Saundersfoot. Behind Monkstone Point is Monkstone Beach, a clean, sandy, and very quiet beach. Monkstone Beach is quite for a reason though, it's quite remote and there are no facilities. Access is via a rather steep footpath down to the beach, and getting back can be quite a challenge! However, if a large, peaceful, remote, sandy beach sounds like your cup of tea, and you're not put off by the exercise, you can get there by heading out of Saundersfoot to New Hedges (on the B4316), turn left into New Hedges (staying on the B4316), then left again down to Trevayne Farm. Walk through the farm and follow the footpath down to the beach.
Another, more interesting route to Monkstone Beach makes use of the fact that Saundersfoot lies on the route of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The path leaves the Glen Beach and heads up through the woods. The path starts to follow the coast out to Monkstone Point, before turning back inland, eventually bringing you to a cross-roads where you can carry straight on for Tenby, or turn left down towards Monkstone Beach.
Dogs and Beaches
Dogs are not allowed on Saundersfoot beach between May 1st and September 30th. Dogs are allowed on the other beaches throughout the year.
Saundersfoot grew up around the coal mining industry. The most obvious remnant of that heritage is Saundersfoot Harbour. Built by the Saundersfoot Railway and Harbour Company in 1829 for the export of anthracite coal from the collieries around nearby Reynalton, Amroth and Stepaside, the harbour sits at the centre of the village and serves as a focal point for much of what goes on in Saundersfoot today. For a start, it serves as the main car park in the village. It's also a working harbour, providing employment for the local community, and fresh seafood for the local pubs and restaurants. Many events take place on the harbour, including the weekly St. Issell's harbour service held throughout the summer holidays, the St David's Food and Craft Festival and the St Nicholas Christmas Market. It's also a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll on a Summer's evening. For the more adventurous, there are various boat trips available to take you around the bay and beyond.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Another legacy of Saundersfoot's coal mining past can be seen on the coast between Saundersfoot and Wisemans Bridge. The old railway ran down Railway street, which is now called The Strand, before going through three cliff tunnels on it's way around the coast to Wisemans Bridge. Today, this old railway route forms part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and is possibly the most walked section, due to it's proximity to Saundersfoot and it's accessibility - despite following the cliffs around the coast, the path is almost perfectly flat making it suitable for walkers of all ages and abilities.
The full walk from Tenby to Saundersfoot is one of the finest stretches along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Most of it is as quiet and tranquil as many of the more remote stretches along the coast of north Pembrokeshire, yet this section has two of Pembrokeshire's most popular holiday resorts at either end.
It's pretty typical coast path walking, quite tough going with lots of ups and downs, for about 3 miles from Saundersfoot village center to Tenby's North Cliff. The highlight of the walk is seeing Tenby come in to view, with it's brightly coloured Georgian houses standing tall around Tenby harbour.
Tenby makes a great place to stop and have lunch before attempting the return leg, or if you've had enough walking you can catch the bus back to Saundersfoot.
The New Year's Day Swim
If come to Saundersfoot during the Christmas Holidays, then you can enjoy Saundersfoot's traditional New Year's Day Swim. If you haven't already heard of it, it's an event that takes place on New Year's Day morning every year in Saundersfoot, where about a thousand swimmers run down the beach and dive in the icy waters for charity. Many more thousands come to watch, making the whole thing a great event.