Porthclais Climbing, Crabbing, Kayaking and More: Warpool Court Hotel’s Peter Trier Says, ‘Explore!’
"Porthclais offers a range of diversions for the outdoor-inclined," says Warpool Court Hotel owner Peter Trier.
Do a little research, and you'll find hidden among the rocks formed hundreds of millions of years ago along Pembrokeshire Coast Path is Porthclais (also known as Porth Clais) harbour. A harbour, or haven, is a body of water where ships, boats and barges shelter from stormy weather, or are stored for future use.
Carved out by glacial meltwater at the mouth of the narrow, steep-sided valley of the River Alun, Porthclais is one of the few harbours and slipways used by fishing and leisure boats that allows land access; there are no large ports or marina facilities.
Trier points out that the entire harbour is within the St. David's Peninsula Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a conservation designation denoting a protected area.
Parts of the old harbour wall are largely intact and believed to be Roman, and Vikings discovered the haven more than 1,000 years ago.
Porthclais sits in medieval Cantref Pebidiog - "Dewisland," the Land of David, held directly by the bishops of St. David's, within the historic parish of St. David's; early Christian missionaries would have landed here from Celtic outposts. A medieval chapel and "David's Well" are at the head of the harbor, noted as the site of St David's baptism by St. Elvis, Bishop of Munster. The story goes that during David's baptism, water from a nearby spring splashed the eyes of a blind monk who was holding baby David, and his sight was restored.
The harbour itself was built in the 12th century to serve the city of St David's and proved to be a viable trading port, with the first record of trade from the port found in a 1385 account of building works at the cathedral. Stones for the building of St David's Cathedral and the adjacent Bishop's Palace passed through Porthclais harbour from Caerbwdy Bay.
Early imports of luxury goods such wine, malt, corn, raisins, pepper and calico, and timber were recorded, with the chief export recorded as grain, along with farm produce and woolen cloth; later limestone and coal were traded. Porthclais has some of the best preserved remains of lime kilns; a lime kiln is used for the calcination of limestone used by farmers to neutralise acidic soil and improve crop growth. Coal was used in the gas works; all that remains of the gas works is the small square red-brick building, the former pump room.
Porthclais' rocky cliff slabs have proven attractive to climbers and outdoor adventurers. The westward slab is Dreamboat Annie Wall; east is the coloured Red Wall. Limited bouldering is also available.
The harbour dries out at low tide; the beach isn't a bathing beach but a good place for a walk on the coast path or for setting out by kayak. Through the summer, crab catching is a fun activity. Learn how at https://www.countryfile.com/how-to/outdoor-skills/how-to-go-crabbing-with-kids.
How to Get to Porthclais Harbour
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park provides local bus services between Porthclais Harbour, St Justinian, Whitesands Bay and St David's. The walk from Porthclais into St. David's is an easy stroll.
The kiosk for refreshments is located next to the National Trust car park.
The harbour was used for filming for the BBC Prince Caspian/The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which was the second series of The Chronicles of Narnia.