The Stackpole Estate, owned by the National Trust and managed with the help of the Countryside Council for Wales, lies five miles south of Pembroke, and is within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Much of the area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and one quarter is a National Nature Reserve, having both coastal and freshwater habitats and species. This is flat verdant land.
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The village of Bosherton is known for its freshwater lakes that bloom with white lilies in June. Swans, kingfishers, dragonflies, and herons grace the area. The 80 acres of lakes were formed in the 18th century by damming up the streams in three limestone valleys. They were created by the Earls of Cawdor, (related to the Scottish Cawdor Castle family) who owned the Stackpole Estate. The estate’s name comes from the south shore’s columns of limestone named “Stack Rock” and from the Saxon word ‘pol’, meaning a body of water.
There are a number of natural arches and geological features in the area. Look for the viewing platform for the one called the Green Bridge of Wales. The limestone cliffs are riddled with caves worn into the rock by the sea. One of these, Bosherton Meer, was described in 1844 as being most remarkable with a small opening on the surface of the ground that expanded into a deep cavern from which loud noises would emanate during storms.
The Earls of Cawdor had an elegant baronial mansion, Stackpool Court, built on the estate. During the Civil War, the Earls took the side of the King, and the house was besieged by Parliamentarians, to whom they eventually surrendered. A newer home of limestone was built in later years. Rare trees and shrubs, and gardens were planted at the time. Greenhouses were extensive. The mansion was demolished in 1963.
Paths (pick up a National Trust brochure to follow the extensive network) wind among the Stackpole estate and cross the clear waters of the lakes by footbridges. Nearby Barfundle Bay’s golden sands and dunes are reached by walking along the cliff path, then following a steep path down to the beach. Another path leads to the village of Broad Haven, a small seaside village on St Bride's Bay, with a sandy beach. For those who can’t walk, there are roads leading to the villages of Bosherton and Broad Haven.
From Broad Haven, you can walk the Pembrokeshire coastal path to St Govan’s Head where limestone cliffs, 99 ft. (30 metres) above the sea, provide unending views over the water.
Note:Access to Stack Rocks is sometimes restricted as there are firing ranges at nearby Castlemartin.
Photos courtesy Ilkeston Cam and Barbara Ballard