Walk Distance: 2.2km
Walk Duration: 1hr 30 (at preschooler walking speed and allowing clambering up rocks & admiring the view time). Half this time at a normal pace!
Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger 157 St. David’s & Haverford West; OS Explorer OL35 North Pembrokeshire
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, little legs (with a bit of hill to start), good little walkers and all the family.
Walk Features: Fantastic views across the Pembrokeshire countryside; visit to Maiden Castle and Poll Carn Rocks with some great opportunities for a bit of rock scrambling for older kids, historical interest, refreshments (including icecream) at the Nant-y-Col Mill and art gallery off the A40 at the walk start/end.
‘If you’re after an easy inland Pembrokeshire walk with amazing panoramic views and plenty of interest for the kids then a wander up to Treffgarne Rocks is a must.
We visited whilst staying at nearby Wolf’s Castle Hotel in the village of the same name – a place-name that gives you an indication of the mystery of the immediate area and the local names for the rocks such as Lion’s Rock and The Teddy Bear or The Unicorn are sure to spark young imaginations. The Ravens perched watching you from the rock tops could be straight out of a novel.
You can scramble up on Maiden’s Castle for the very best views and Roo at nearly 4 loved trying to clamber up some of the boulders around its base. A really lovely short walk for families – just bring shoes with grip and that you don’t mind getting muddy after any wet spells – the first and last stretch can be a bit slippy for little people.’
The Treffgarne Rocks Circular Walk starts from by the Nant-y-Col Mill just off the A40 between Treffgarne and Wolf’s Castle. From Nant-y-Col mill, take the small lane that leads sharply uphill to its south. Continue up around the bend until you reach a small parking area (an alternative parking place if you want to cut off the first hill with very young walkers and don’t mind driving up steep narrow lanes).
Opposite this the footpath leaves the lane on the left. It is marked with a sign. Follow this path.
A short way on and the path splits. Take the right hand fork and start heading uphill on a narrow path through the bracken. This stretch can be a little bit challenging for very young children after wet weather (they will need shoes with grip that can also cope with a bit of mud) but it isn’t long. Our 3 year old made it without too much trouble.
At the top the bracken emerges onto open hillside. The going is easy from here. Walk through the gate and head for Maiden Castle – the big outcrop of the rocks right ahead. These dramatic looking rocks also go by the name of The Lion – a good name as you will see when you walk on and look back at it – it is a perfect silhouette of a giant stone lion lying down, surveying the whole of the landscape around it (see the cover photo). The views from the hillside here are lovely.
For miniature lion tamers and those seeking an even better view, a scramble up onto the lion’s back is a must. If you head around to the back of the rocks (their south side) there is a narrow path leading up to the top. Be watchful of little ones around here – there is some great scrambling and boulder climbing for kids of all ages but there are also some unforgiving drops at the edges. It’s a wonderful spot though – the views across the valley are magnificent and you can imagine how eery it would be to be up on the rocks under full-moon!
From Maiden’s Castle you can see your next walk stop-off – the even bigger rocky outcrop of Poll Carn which is unmissable on the southern side of the rocks. Rejoin the path at the base of Maiden’s Castle as it follows flatly through the bracken to another gate.
Just beyond here the path joins a wider farm track. The gateway into the field by Poll Carn is to your right. Whilst technically there is a footpath that leads in a loop around this field and the base of Poll Carn’s rocks which makes a nice little extra circular walk, at the time of writing the path had a diversion sign on it. There was no clear explanation as to the reason for the diversion although there were several horses in the field. The rocks are close enough at least to appreciate their drama from a short distance and although not as oddly shaped as those of Maiden’s Castle, they are equally dramatic with the watchful ravens perched on their peaks only adding to the mystical atmosphere. Poll Carn also has its local nicknames – it goes by titles such as ‘the teddybear’, ‘the unicorn’ and ‘wolf’s rock’. I have to say I didn’t really see it’s likeness with the first of these but it’s vertical nature could well be something akin to a unicorn’s horn and I can definitely imagine far too clearly a wolf baying at the moon from the top of its rocks!
Back on the main track and with Poll Carn to your right, walk downhill. Technically the footpath meanders off on the grass to oneside but it isn’t marked or obvious and the farm track is much easier to follow. At the bottom of the hill you reach a crossroads. A track leading back to Treffgarne and its church lies to the right (an alternative starting point), another gate lies ahead and the path back heads across the grass to the left, following the waypoint.
Continue across the grass and through a small gate. We enjoyed lots of blackberries here in autumnal September. Continue down a grassy path lined with hedgerow, enjoying great views back up to Maiden’s Castle on your left. Eventually you come to another small intersection of paths.
The return walk leads on the pathstraight ahead. If it is not overgrown (it was impassable for our little people at time of writing) then there is a small path to the right hand side here also which leads onto the iron age hill settlement at Great Treffgarne Rocks. The view is said to be really good down onto the gorge from here.
Back on the main path continue straight on and back onto a narrow path leading downhill through the bracken. Again, little people may need a bit of a hand on this bit, especially after wet weather but it is only a short section.
This path brings you back to the fork in the path at the start of the walk. Keep right and you will emerge onto the lane opposite the parking area. If you have time, head downhill to the cafe for post – walk refreshments and ice-cream (and an interesting look-round) at Nant-y-Col Mill and gallery. If you fancy something more substantial and have a change of shoes then I can highly recommend the reasonably priced lunch menu at nearby Wolf’s Castle Hotel. The food is superb and they offer both light bites and a fantastic set menu.
Map of Route:
The Treffgarne Rocks Circular Walk is easily accessed from the A40 between Haverfordwest and Fishguard. Free parking is available in the lay-by by Nant-y-Col Mill, which is found between the villages of Treffgarne and Wolf’s Castle. Alternatively if you want to avoid the first bit of uphill walking, drive up the small lane immediately to the south of the mill. This leads up to a small parking area opposite the footpath that marks the start of the Treffgarne Rocks Circular Walk.
There are regular bus services that run along the A40 but from some brief research, none of these seem to stop at the layby by Nant-y-Col Mill. The road is fast and narrow here so unless stopping by the mill is possible (and do double check) then I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk from Treffgarne or Wolf’s Castle. Instead you could start the walk from Treffgarne village and join it along the farm track that leads back from the chuch – it’s easy to find if you have an OS Map and joins the Treffgarne Rocks Circular Walk at the cross-roads turn-back described in paragraph 8.
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