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Pembrokeshire's Cathedral and Castles

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Pembrokeshire Holiday South Wales June 2014 - page 2

St Davids, on St Davids Peninsula in the north west of Pembrokeshire in South Wales, feels like a village but is, in fact, the smallest city in the UK!  There we toured the magnificent St Davids Cathedral and adjacent medieval Bishop’s Palace.  Then in the south of Pembrokeshire we visited the stunningly located Carew Castle and restored Tidal Mill, all easily reached from our comfortable holiday cottage in Haverfordwest.
This is page two of three.
Pembrokeshire 1 | Pembrokeshire 2 | Pembrokeshire 3

The tiny city of St Davids in Pembrokeshire
This is the centre of St Davids and that's City Hall over there, next to a delightful coffee shop where we stopped for refreshment.  The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park office and visitor information centre...

St Davids: Celtic cross and war memorial garden
...is situated at one end of town ... opps, city; and the Celtic cross and well-kept war memorial garden (above) at the other.  From here St Davids Cathedral is a short walk down The Pebbles.

Tourist shops in St Davids, Pembrokeshire
Of course St Davids, like any popular tourist destination, has its fair share of tourist trap shops, most of which were near the cathedral.

St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire
Soon we arrived at the 12th century St Davids Cathedral and ... uh-oh, on the June day we were there the place was teeming with the dreaded...

Bishop’s Palace, Pembrokeshire
...school parties on a pilgrimage attending services being held inside.  This meant a lengthy wait for entry for 'normal' visitors so we grabbed an early lunch in the award-winning cathedral refectory (erm, it wasn't anything special), checked out the cloisters, roamed the ruins and courtyard of the medieval Bishop’s Palace (above) adjacent to the cathedral, and enjoyed a wander around...

Scenic spot by the River Alun between St Davids Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace
...this scenic spot by the River Alun running between Bishop’s Palace and the cathedral.

St Davids Cathedral: the nave looking towards the pulpitum
So in at last!  Tours inside St Davids Cathedral can be guided or self-paced, entry is free but donations are encouraged and there's a 2 fee for photography.  For many centuries the cathedral has been a popular destination for pilgrimages, so of course with the...

Inside the nave at St Davids Cathedral in Pembrokeshire
...wait there were many other visitors (pilgrims?) looking around the nave, the font, the choir stalls, the Treasury and the chapels.  We also viewed the newly restored medieval Shrine of St David, with icons depicting local saints, within St Davids Cathedral.

Tower Gate House at St Davids Cathedral
We exited St Davids Cathedral via Tower Gate House, which houses a history and life exhibition, and the Bell Tower which has a royal ring of ten bells.

Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire
Carew Castle has evolved from an 11th century Norman fortification, through medieval fortress, to an Elizabethan country house.  Since 1983 it's...

Carew Castle: picnic tables in the grounds
...been run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and has benefited from an extensive restoration programme to preserve the castle ruins.

The courtyard at Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire
Here's the courtyard just inside the castle proper, audio and guided tours were available but we made our own way around Carew Castle aided by...

Exploring the Long Gallery at Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire
...the very informative guide sheet provided.  Here we're exploring the Long Gallery.

Eerie room beneath the Old Tower at Carew Castle
This room at the base of the Old Tower felt a bit creepy as we read the plentiful information on the castle's history provided by the illuminated but non-interactive display panels.

Also at Carew Castle: an impressive 11th century Celtic cross, apparently the only one not just in Pembrokeshire but in Wales.

The Lesser Hall at Carew Castle, Pembrokeshire
Some areas inside Carew Castle were set-up ready for character re-enactment for those dreaded 'educational visits'.  Mike decided to do his own re-enactment in the Lesser Hall here and, sitting at the table, banged his fists and bellowed: "serving wench, bring me my beer!"  Weyhey, our own medieval re-enactment at Carew Castle, how cool was that?

Climbing up a narrow spiral staircase in Carew Castle
Heading higher up another narrow spiral staircase...

Pembrokeshire: Carew Castle kitchen prep area
...we found the castle's kitchen prep area - and had some fun in here too!  We noticed it was laid out ready for those pesky school visits, no doubt to demonstrate medieval cooking by a character re-enactor.  Well, Belinda did some 'hands-on' playing with the dough and vegetable food props before ringing the hand bell - then we heard another school group approaching and quickly got outta there!

Large windows at Carew Castle overlooking the millpond
Those large windows overlooking...

Looking towards the tide mill from Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire
...the 23-acre millpond were added by Sir John Perrot in the 16th century.  Can you see the tide mill at the end of the millpond?  Well that was where we next headed, included in the 4.75 adult entry cost.

Carew's restored tidal mill in Pembrokeshire
To the right of Carew's restored tidal mill is the medieval bridge (part of a pleasant one-mile circular walk around the castle) leading to a lovely picnic area affording a wonderful castle view across the millpond.

Carew Tidal Mill water wheel
No doubt the tide mill's water wheel is on the list of restoration projects at Carew Tidal Mill.  It's amazing to think our ancestors were harnessing renewable energy long before it became trendy, here...

Touring the milling machinery at Carew's Tidal Mill in Pembrokeshire
...using tidal motion to power the mill's milling machinery which we explored over the three floors.  So, a very enjoyable visit to Carew Castle and Tidal Mill in south Pembrokeshire - five stars from us!

Breakfast time in the Pembrokeshire holiday cottage
No, we're not still messing around with those food props at the castle, this is back at our own Pembrokeshire 'castle', namely our lovely rented self-catering holiday cottage...

We enjoy breakfast in the Pembrokeshire holiday cottage in Haverfordwest
...centrally located in Haverfordwest.  And the food wasn't medieval, here we're tucking in to a hearty breakfast before venturing out on another day of Pembrokeshire touring.  The cottage...

Outside the Haverfordwest holiday cottage
...didn't have any spiral staircases or ramparts but was very comfortable with a little courtyard to sit out in with a coffee in the week-long Wales sunshine - nice.


Carew Castle is but one of 51 castles and forts in Pembrokeshire, others include Tenby and Pembroke castles (also in the south), and Picton and Haverfordwest castles in mid Pembrokeshire.  Oh, there's also another Bishop's Palace: Lamphrey.  But only the one cathedral at St Davids.

Our Pembrokeshire holiday planning has added to our collection of UK tourism resources - please take a look if planning a visit!

Now please join us on our final Pembrokeshire holiday page with an enchanting trip to see the delightful puffins on Skomer Island >>>


We've also visited Salisbury Cathedral and these other noteworthy castles:
Leeds and Dover castles in Kent, Carisbrooke (IOW) and Warwick Castle (Cotswolds).