About Fishguard, Goodwick, and our surrounding area
Find out about Fishguard and Goodwick in the Tabs below and by following the many links on this website.
As the jewel of North Pembrokeshire, the twin towns of Fishguard and Goodwick are easy to access from Ireland, England and the rest of Wales by train, bus, boat or car. Being on the western edge of Britain the climate is gentle, the people welcoming, the coutryside green and the culture rich. This is a favourite hub for walkers and cyclists. Explore the mysterious Gwaun Valley or the ocean’s edge around Strumble. Fishguard and Goodwick have plenty of places to stay and eat after a day walking in the Preseli mountains. A land of Saints and Stones, old churches reveal much of the history of the area.
Fishguard is a small market town high above Fishguard Bay and is the main shopping and commercial town in north Pembrokeshire.
Its popularity as a holiday destination has increased over the years as its location is perfectly placed to explore the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the Coast Path, the wooded Gwaun Valley and the many villages and hamlets along the coast and inland to the Preseli Hills.
Most of the shops and businesses in the town’s narrow streets are family-owned and the influx of holidaymakers and visitors is welcomed by its friendly people, many of whom speak Welsh.
Visitors from all over the world visit the Last Invasion Tapestry which commemorates the last invasion of mainland Britain and festivals and events celebrating music and the arts are regular events.
The tiny picturesque harbour at Lower Town, the oldest part of Fishguard, has been used as the setting for many films including Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’ starring Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole and Elizabeth Taylor. Lower Town harbour provides a beautiful backdrop for the moorings of local yachts and is an ideal setting for the local Sea Cadets.
In summer the Cafe on the Quay is a great place for a snack and even fresh lobster or crab.
Goodwick was just a cluster of fishermen’s cottages until the arrival of the railway just over a century ago. A small number of shops and businesses complement those inFishguard and from here Stena Line operates a daily ferry service to Rosslare in Ireland. A train service connects with the ferry sailings.
The largest hotel in north Pembrokeshire, the Fishguard Bay Hotel, overlooks the harbour which was the setting for the film ‘Moby Dick’ starring Gregory Peck. Plans are currently underway for a marina to be built in the harbour.
Goodwick Sands provides a safe beach for families while Goodwick Moor is a designated Nature Reserve which is popular with ‘twitchers’, many regularly travelling from England and Ireland when rare birds are sighted. The local Archery group practice in summer at nearby Scleddau, and in winter in the leisure centre.
The site of the Last Invasion of mainland Britain in 1797 lies just a few miles away at Carregwastad Point on the Pencaer peninsula with the surrender of the French insurgents taking place on Goodwick Sands.
A third of the world’s grey seals live around the Pembrokeshire coast with the best places for dolphin and porpoise spotting being at Strumble Head nearby and at Harbour Village above the bay.
The Gwaun Valley runs inland from Lower Town Fishguard towards The Preseli Mountains. The Gwaun Valley was created by torrents of melt water from the retreating ice during the last Ice Age to leave a steep sided verdant valley. This video gives you a real insight into the landscape and culture of the area.
The Gwaun Valley is in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and has a unique atmosphere and an abundance of wildlife and prehistoric sites. The people in the hamlets of Pontfaen and Llanychaer uphold a unique tradition – they still celebrate New Year’s Day on 13th January according to the old Julian calendar!
The celebration – called Hen Galan – has been carried from generation to generation and is still marked in villages throughout the valley. For the children, Hen Galan was often spent travelling from house-to-house singing traditional rhymes to ‘let in’ the coming year and to wish the occupants health and happiness. Deriving from calan, meaning the first day of the month, the custom known as calennig (New Year’s gift) refers to the practice of singing from door-to-door on New Year’s Day.
The pub at Pontfaen, The Dyffryn Arms, is run by the formidable Bessie Davies, a real local character. The pub is a time capsule of a bygone era. The bar is the front room of Bessie’s house and the beer is served through a hatch straight from the barrel. It’s well worth a visit for the experience but don’t expect anything fancy. Beer is all you’ll get.
The Preseli Hills or the Preseli Mountains contain wild, mysterious, rolling moors roamed by sheep and ponies providing a superb terrain for walkers and horse riders. This is a landscape on an intimate scale, and one that is very beautiful, including bluestone crags and scree slopes, wild moorlands, deep wooded valleys. It is a landscape of ever changing moods and colours. Fishguard sits at the foot of the Preselis.
Although climbing to just 1760 feet at the highest point, on a clear day the Preseli hills afford exceptional all round views to the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland, Snowdonia in the north, the Brecon Beacons to the east and the Bristol Channel and West Country to the south.
Judging by the huge abundance of relics that remain – Neolithic burial chambers, Bronze Age cairns, stone circles, standing stones and Iron Age forts, these hills were well populated by Prehistoric people. The bluestones that make up much of the inner circle of Stonehenge are made from spotted dolerite which probably came from here. The Preselis were a stronghold of Celtic cultures who believed the entrance to The Celtic Underworld, Annwn, was in the foothills of The Preseli Mountains. The Preselis feature in The Mabinogion, a collection of ancient Welsh stories of magic and pre-Christian Celtic mythology, including stories about King Arthur.
Significant prehistoric sites on The Preselis include:
- Foel Drygarn and Garn Fawr – Iron Age hill forts
- Carningli (Angel mountain)
- Bedd Arthur – A stone circle
- Carn Meini – Bluestone outcrops (the reputed source of the Stonehenge Bluestones)
- Gors Fawr – Another stone circle near Maenclochog below The Preselis
One walk over the Preselis is called the Golden Road, an ancient trackway along the ridge of the mountains. A community bus service called The Preseli Green Dragon can be used to make walking in the Preselis much easier. It stops at all the most important access points on and around the Preselis. There is a circular walk circumnavigating the Preselis called the Preseli Circle.
Strumble Head lighthouse is the most prominent feature on the coast betweenFishguard and Abereiddy. The former admiralty lookout post is now a bird spotters shelter. Walkers may find the coastal minibus service helpful by walking one way and riding back. Cyclists and others will enjoy the unfolding countryside and the views all round from Garn Fawr seeing from St David’s Head to the Lleyn Peninsula and Snowdonia, even to the hills of Ireland on a clear day. Flora and fauna abound. Seals and their pups rest at the foot of the cliffs. Inland is the busy Tregwynt Woollen Mill, lovely Granston church, Miranda’s jams and organic dairy farms on National Trust land.
It was into this area, marked by the memorial stone at Carregwastad that the French troops landed in 1797. The invaders found warmth and cover in the church at Llanwnda, once a hermitage. Here pages from the Bible were burnt to start a fire. The 8th Century church is one of those in the Saints and Stones trail and is open during the day. Interesting stones are set in its walls.