…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.
A Scenic Journey: Exploring Bosherston Lily Ponds and Broad Haven South Beach
The Splendor of Bosherston Lily Ponds
The walk through Bosherston lily ponds in Pembrokeshire, Wales, is widely regarded as one of the country’s most remarkable circular walks.
With numerous paths to choose from, all leading to the iconic Broad Haven South beach, this journey offers a truly enchanting experience.
Tranquility and Natural Beauty
Whether you commence your walk from the village of Bosherston, concluding with a delightful treat at Ye Olde Tearoom, or begin at the Stackpole Visitor Centre, passing the picturesque eight-arch bridge, the main attraction remains the serene lily ponds, meticulously managed by the National Trust.
As you emerge onto Broad Haven beach, often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor Barafundle, you’ll be rewarded with an extra touch of splendor.
A Story of Creation and Biodiversity
Remarkably, the lily ponds are among the few hard-water mesotrophic lakes in Wales.
These artificial ponds, created in the 1780s by the Cawdors of Stackpole, were formed by constructing weirs across three neighboring valleys, reducing the water’s flow to the sea.
They were then stocked with lilies and fish.
Today, the ponds are thriving with biodiversity, hosting a variety of species such as bats, dragonflies, butterflies, and even a family of otters.
A Tapestry of Nature
The paths winding through the ponds lead you through steep wooded valleys adorned with vibrant wild garlic and bluebells in the springtime.
Our visit in early June revealed the first blooming white lilies and the transition from bluebells to vivid pink campions.
By the end of the month, the famous lilies should be at their peak, showcasing nature’s exquisite tapestry.
A Leisurely Stroll
This is not a walk to be rushed; it is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature.
The gentle chirping of moorhens gliding across the water and the graceful sight of swans gliding through the rushes provide a truly soothing experience.
Delight in the dappled sunlight filtering through the trees, creating a tranquil ambiance.
Alternative Transportation Options
If the full walk to the beach feels overwhelming, consider taking the Coastal Cruiser shuttle bus, available seven days a week during the summer.
It provides convenient pick-up and drop-off points at various locations along the route.
Another option to avoid congested car parks is to park at Castle Dock Woods or Stackpole Court.
The Classic Lilypond Walk
For those seeking a picturesque four-mile walk, starting from Bosherston offers an easy and enjoyable route.
The enchanting sunken bridge beckons you to cross, particularly when the lilies are in full bloom.
Follow the eastern edge of the pond to ascend to a viewpoint, offering an Arcadian vista of the lily-adorned ponds nestled within their lush green valleys, tapering towards the dunes and the coastline.
Further Exploration and Hidden Gems
Crossing a second sunken bridge takes you over the central arm of the ponds, showcasing one of Wales’ finest stonewort meadows.
The longer and less crowded eastern arm rewards you with beautiful scenery.
Taking the higher path between woodlands and fields leads you to the Eight Arch Bridge, a historical gem constructed in 1797.
Should you continue across the bridge and traverse the fields, you will eventually reach Stackpole Quay and Barafundle beach, a worthwhile extension for the enthusiastic adventurers.
Moments of Serenity and Reflection
While exploring the area, take a momentary detour to Lodge Park Wood and Stackpole Court.
These places offer an appreciation of the revitalizing qualities of woodland and the faded elegance of an old estate, now mostly demolished.
Returning along the water’s edge of the eastern arm, you will eventually arrive at the sand dune ridge separating the ponds from the breathtaking Broad Haven South beach.
A Beach of Tranquil Beauty
Broad Haven South is arguably one of the finest beaches in Pembrokeshire, boasting soft, golden sands and an expansive sand dune system that invites endless play and exploration.
Though it transforms into a surf beach during stormy conditions, the waters are generally calm, exhibiting a mesmerizing deep blue hue.
Kick off your shoes, feel the sand between your toes, and allow ample time for a refreshing paddle or perhaps a leisurely picnic.
Reflections and Hidden Delights
The return journey follows the southern edge of the ponds back to Bosherston.
As an alternative to the village tearooms, a hidden gem worth discovering is the Stackpole Walled Gardens, managed by Mencap.
Nestled within these sheltered gardens lies a delightful café, offering a wonderful selection of refreshments.
You may even find a plant or two to enhance your own garden.
Although it requires a slightly longer walk from Bosherston, the café’s quiche and scones are well worth the effort.
Fragility Amidst Beauty
During spring tides and periods of drought, the sea occasionally surpasses the lily ponds.
As sea levels rise, the ponds’ freshwater status becomes increasingly limited, serving as a poignant reminder of the delicate balance between their environmental fragility and their captivating beauty.
A Gentle Reminder to Savor the Moment
Whether you choose to explore the lily ponds and Broad Haven South beach in their entirety or embark on smaller sections of the journey, remember to embrace a leisurely pace, fully immersing yourself in the experience.
Allow the serenity of nature to envelop you as you create lasting memories amidst this idyllic aquatic wonderland.
Unveiling More Welsh Wonders
If you find yourself longing for more extraordinary walks in Wales, there is a wealth of options awaiting your discovery.
From rugged coastal paths to breathtaking mountain trails, this enchanting country offers a multitude of captivating landscapes to explore.
Immerse yourself in the dramatic beauty of Snowdonia National Park, where majestic peaks and shimmering lakes await your footsteps.
Traverse the famous Glyndŵr’s Way, a long-distance footpath that winds through stunning Welsh countryside, steeped in history and folklore.
For coastal enthusiasts, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path beckons with its panoramic vistas of rugged cliffs and pristine beaches.
Discover the hidden gem of Barafundle, often overshadowed but boasting its own unique charm.
Feel the salty breeze against your skin as you soak in the stunning coastal scenery.
Venture further afield to the captivating Brecon Beacons National Park, where rolling hills and ancient forests create a mesmerizing backdrop for exploration.
Follow the Beacons Way, a long-distance trail that meanders through breathtaking valleys and summits, offering an immersive experience in this natural wonderland.
Alternatively, embrace the tranquility of the Offa’s Dyke Path, tracing the ancient border between England and Wales.
This long-distance footpath offers a rich tapestry of landscapes, from gentle meadows to windswept ridges, providing an opportunity to connect with both nature and history.
Wherever your wanderlust takes you in Wales, remember to relish each step, taking time to appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty that surrounds you.
From captivating lily ponds to rugged coastlines and majestic mountains, the wonders of this remarkable country are waiting to be explored.
So lace up your walking shoes, breathe in the fresh Welsh air, and embark on a journey of discovery through some of the most breathtaking landscapes that Wales has to offer.