Tag Archives: Horse Riding

Visit Pembrey Country Park

In our last post we left you at Kidwelly Castle, South Wales and had been travelling down from Whitemill. We were aiming to work our way along the Welsh coast to be in Somerset in 10 days time. Looking on the map, we found a large green area with what looked like a country park. We decided to visit Pembrey Country Park to see what it had to offer. As you can see on the map, it’s not far from Kidwelly, just 5 miles!

Map of South Wales visit pembrey country park


We secured our stuff and took a slow drive. When you turn off of the A484 you go over a railway bridge which is a single track and governed by traffic lights. You will then see a small car park on the left called Penybeed car park. There are some lovely walks from here. If you follow the road down a bit further you will then arrive at the entrance to visit Pembrey Country Park and a beach site. It is one of Wales’ top visitor attractions.

A park warden greeted us in the toll booth at the entrance to the park. It is £5 entrance/parking all day and they are open until 10pm. We didn’t realise there was an entrance fee and didn’t have cash on us at the time. Luckily they allowed us to drive on through and pay at the visitor centre with a card.  

With over 500 acres of land and beaches, we had lots to discover! Find out more below!

Visit Pembrey Country Park Munitions ruins

Pembrey country park Bunkers

WW1

Although the park, is today a stunning, green and lush parkland, it wasn’t always this way. The park has had many uses over the years and there’s still evidence for you to explore today!

The sand dunes provided an excellent location for the manufacturing of explosives during both World Wars. It was the site of Pembrey’s Royal Ordnance Factory. The earliest munitions were produced here as early as 1882. Using it’s remote location, the dunes would greatly reduce the impact of any accidental explosions. The factory, employed mainly by women as the men were at war fighting, has as many as 6000 employees producing Dynamite and TNT.

USE AFTER WW1

After the First World War the factory closed in the 1920’s, the administration building was then used to house the children of unemployed miners. They were put to work in the factories to produce a component of printing ink, Carbon black.

WW2

At the start of the Second World War the factory re-opened and covered over 200 hectares of land. This mainly covered the sand dunes. The nitration and other dangerous buildings were located here a safe distance away from the admin buildings such as surgery, canteen, police barracks, central office and library.

Railway tracks used in the movement of the explosives can still be seen today. They are especially prevalent around the children’s play area.

Production continued at a low level after the war. It was again was relied upon to produce more around the time of the Korean war in the 1950’s. After the war, the factory was mainly involved in the decommissioning of bombs by breaking them down. The factory closed its doors in March 1965.

SHIPWRECKS

Pembrey country park Shipwreck

Pembrey’s beach, Cefn Sidan, is the resting place of a large number of shipwrecks – many can be seen on google maps! Some of these wrecks have been dated back as far as 1668 and show how important the shipping route was with the movement of timber and coal along the Welsh coast. There are over 300 shipwrecks on this coast line that they know of. Many more are still waiting to be discovered. It’s not just the boats that have been discovered here! Anchors, now placed by the beach car park were discovered within 200 meters of each other. Found near the low water mark with a chain between them. These are the heavyweight anchors from a vessel of at least 1000 tonnes!

BEACH AND SAND DUNES

Visit Pembrey country park Sand Dunes

The sand here is a very fine sand and the dunes are constantly changing and shifting. Reports indicate that the beach can raise or fall by over 6 ft depending on the storms and the tides either burying the beach, or exposing the wrecks underneath and is proof of just how difficult this stretch of coast line was for the boats to navigate the ever changing sand banks.

The sand dunes can be very dangerous due to the type of sand and constant shifts. There are signs up warning not to dig in the sand dunes as they easily collapse.

The beach is an excellent spot for treasure hunting. Aside from the occasional new discovery from the shipwrecks you can find a lot of shells here for your DIY projects. It is great to visit after the high tide and sift through all the debris washed up. Do be cautious though – the beach also has some dead jellyfish wash up and some are huge! For reference, I am a size 8!

The beach is 8 miles long and full of golden sand. It is one of the few places where you can watch the sunset over the sea and the red sky shining on the exposed rib cages of the ship wrecks are a sight you won’t forget!

ACTIVITIES

Pembrey has lots of activities on offer. You can treat the family to an adventure filled week away there and do something different every single day! Why not have a go at the following activities;

Dry ski slope

Tobogganing

Cycle Hire

Archery

Laser tag

Orienteering

Pitch and Putt

Miniture railway

Adventure play area

Equestrian centre

Nature trails (coastal path and woodland options)

Cafe

Award winning beaches

Whether you want to have an adventure or just relax on the grass or the stunning golden award winning beaches that have been compared to the carribean minus the palm trees, there is something you will fall in love with!

CAMPING

visit Pembrey country park and  Campsite
We had most of the non electric field to ourselves!

There are 2 campsites at Pembrey. A camping and caravan club site just on the edge of the park or Pembrey campsite within the park featuring 320 pitches. They cater for all with non electric, electric and fully serviced pitches.

They have 2 toilet and shower blocks with a family shower room as well as washing up rooms for your dirty cups and plates. The wardens are very helpful and are only too happy to tell you about the area and where to visit as well as its history!

If you are looking for a season pitch for your motorhome you will be glad to know that Pembrey do offer either a season pitch or just a summer pitch where you can hook up all of your gear and visit as often as you like through the season. Everything you need will be here when you visit Pembrey Country Park.

WALKING

Pembrey forest and Pill Box
Pill box used to fire machine guns at aircraft attacking the munition factory.

Pembrey Country Park has beautiful walks, nature trails and coastline views. A mapped walk took us on a 4 mile hike through woodland and via the historical relics of the munition factory.

If you are brave you can try and make your own path but do be aware, these woods are large and you can easily get lost!

CYCLING

We hired two bicycles for an afternoon. You are not limited to staying on the site. There is a coastal path that runs from Chepstow to Queenferry. We decided to cycle to Burry Port and have a well deserved bag of chips and back. Sadly for us the weather turned rather wet and windy so we had to cut short our adventure and good job too as we had rather tender bits for a few days afterwards!

GHOSTS

As with many places, there is nothing quite like a good ghost story. Pembrey has its own collection. It is reported that everything from ghost ships and sailors walking along the beach to bears in the woods have been reported. The ships would sometimes be carrying exotic animals, such as dancing bears, for entertainment. When they were ship wrecked it is believed that some of these animals found their way to shore and lived in the woods. It had so many reported sightings around the site that the UK television show Most Haunted spent a night here to investigate!

Believe what you may but there is no denying that the beach and woods in the dark do take on an eerie feel when the mist starts to roll in! If you go down to the woods today, you are sure of a big surprise!!!

Visit Pembrey Country Park Woods
Haunted Woodland

VISIT PEMBREY COUNTRY PARK

There is so much here that we didn’t have time to explore and we are looking to visit again with a group of friends. It was a wonderful place to visit and off peak for a non electric pitch cost us £17 a night. That meant that we didn’t have to pay for parking in the park as we were already there as paying campers.

We saw many a family there with the children playing and having fun outdoors. Whether for a day, a week or for a season pass we recommend you visit Pembrey Country Park.

If you have enjoyed reading about Pembrey, you can check out our other locations here!

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New Forest, Hampshire

I was lucky enough to have grown up on the outskirts of South London. My grandmother had moved to Holbury, just outside the New Forest and the best thing about visiting was a trip to see the horses! We returned years later to see what the New Forest was offering and were not disappointed!

Shetland Pony in the New Forest

For this trip we stayed at Hollands Wood Campsite (through campingintheforest.co.uk). The site is advertised as a perfect retreat for mind and body. Celebrity broadcaster and environmental campaigner David Bellamy described it as a paradise park. It is situated in 22 hectares of oak woodland and although the facilities are limited to toilets, showers and 600 grass only pitches, (they don’t have any electric hook ups or wifi) it sounded like a beautiful spot to explore from. The ‘limited’ facilities did mean the cost was very reasonable if you were willing to unplug from the grid.

The wonderful thing about this site is the lack of a hard perimeter. The horses and cattle are able to enter and free roam the site. Opening the doors the next morning we could already see the wildlife from the comfort of our bed. We had our breakfast and watched in awe as a heard of cows silently made their way through the trees. They came through camp – leaving one member behind who went frantically charging through a few minutes later calling for the herd.

Brockenhurst

Brockenhurst Village is within walking distance of the campsite and is one of the villages without cattle grids. It is not uncommon to see the horses and cows walking through the village nonchalantly. It has two fords which are a draw for the animals on hot days looking for a drink of cool water. There are a parade of shops and a couple of places to stop for a bite to eat. We stopped at The Buttery near the car park and enjoyed a cool drink and a bit of shade. In my head I thought the village would be bigger but it was a quaint and peaceful location. There is also a large pay and display car park with plenty of spaces.

Hythe

Hythe is a town on the Solent famous for being home to the world’s oldest operating pier train. It is an excellent location to see the large cruise ships as they dock at Southampton. I remember watching the QE2 manoeuvre herself on more than one occasion as a child and feeling so very small in her shadow!

Hythe had a market on during the time we visited, selling fruits, vegetables, clothing, pet supplies and household items. The town has plenty of shops to look around. We found a Costa, grabbed a hot chocolate and headed to the estuary. The tide was out but it was still lovely to sit in the sunshine and watch the birds. We saw a type of seagull here that looked very different to the ones we usually encounter. I was not sure what they were called but they had white bodies and black faces. Google came to our rescue and told us that they were indeed called black faced seagulls… Who knew!

New Forest Sunrise
Sunrise in the New Forest

The Happy Cheese Pub

Taking a drive to Ashurst on the A35 we discovered a popular local pub called The Happy Cheese. It’s on your right hand side as you go over the railway bridge. The pub was so popular that we struggled to find somewhere to park as their car park is not very large however there were other options available to us which we took up.

The pub is well presented with fresh paint on the building. The outside area housed benches with umbrellas in both a grassed and patio locations for you to choose from. The inside was very ‘country pub’ looking with dark beams and low lighting which I found enhanced the character. The food was beautifully cooked and the staff were very friendly and efficient.

Beaulieu

Most famously known for being the home of the National Motor Museum and its Palace House, Beaulieu is a stunning village best seen in glorious sunshine. Although it is a very popular destination for tourists, its parking is rather lacking. Be sure to get there early for a space!

There are a few shops in the village and a pub. The Beaulieu River is home to lots of wildlife and can be a twitcher’s paradise with some rare birds seen here.

Bucklers Hard

A great couple of hours out here, and not far from Beaulieu. The New Forest’s charming hamlet was once famous for its shipbuilding. It has a clear navigable route to sea and a great source of timber! The rows of cottages are now turned into museums and tourist attractions to learn about the shipbuilding industry and how people lived. In the summer time they often have people in costume too. Boat rides are available at extra cost along the water.

Lyndhurst

Lyndhurst is known as the ‘capital’ of the New Forest and has been visited by many members of royalty since William the Conqueror established it as a royal hunting ground.  The graveyard of St Michael and All Angels’ Church is the resting place of one of the New Forest’s famous residents, Alice Pleasance Liddell. Alice was the little girl who inspired Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’. Alice also had a holiday home in Llandudno and you can read about her influence on this seaside town here!

Lyndhurst’s bustling town is full of shops, restaurants and local charm. From here you can rent a bicycle, go for a walk into the forest or simple wander around the quaint little independent shops and grab a bargain!

Horse Riding

Horse riding new forest
Emma and Louise Horse riding

I had not been horse riding before but Louise has. Louise had spoken about how she missed it and when I was looking for things to do I realised we could hire horses and go on a hack! The stables are very experienced and went through all the health and safety information followed by a quick lesson on how to control your horse.

These horses are very well trained and know the drill. They are used to novices riding them and were very patient. We were a group of 6 with 2 professionals to lead us around the forest tracks and even though I was terrified at the start, I can tell you that there is no better way to see the forest than on horse back!

New Forest has Beaches???

Yes. The New Forest is an amazing destination as it has everything! Forest, heather, wide open spaces, rivers and a coast line with sand dunes and nature reserves! Head to the southern edge of the forest to be greeted with loads of options. Check the New Forest website for a list of possible sunbathing spots!

A unique destination with so much to offer

We loved the New Forest and there is still so much left to explore. Being in close proximity to the horses and cows was an amazing experience.

You can pay for the privilege of going to a zoo and having an ‘experience’ with the animals but nothing quite feels as real as a herd choosing to walk close to you. For me it was a very honest experience which reminded me about acceptance and serenity. I will not forget that.

Earlier in the post I described the campsite as ‘limited’ however after my experience there, it is the most unlimited location I have ever been to. It really opened my mind and heart.

The new forest has something for everyone, so whether you want to chill out and relax like us or spend your days with more of an adrenaline rush, there is something here for you!

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