A coastal view from the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

National Trail Officer's Survey: 7 Castlemartin Range Trail.

26th June 2014

National Trail Officer's Survey: 7 Castlemartin Range Trail.
Wednesday 28th May
Today I surveyed the Castlemartin Range Trail with the Castlemartin Ranger (Ranger - Defence Infrastructure Organisation (Operations & Training).  The Castlemartin Range Trail was established in 2009 and is maintained by the Army.  Previously, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path followed the Road when the Army were shooting on the range.  The Castlemartin Range Trail was established by the Wales Coast Path to provide a 24/7 and 365 route for the new Wales Coast Path and is a permissive bridleway so unusually for the Coast Path cycles and horses may use this path.
Photo: Range views

The Ranger wanted to walk the path with me to compile a work programme for the Army contractors.  For this reason we did it as a 2 van walk.  In summer it can be done as a car and bus walk (or as a large circular walk if the coastal range is open).  The main thing about this walk is that it is much better than walking the road.  It also provides wide views of the limestone coast and if you are lucky, mock tank battles.  Most of the route crosses farmland which is used for cattle rearing.  There are some signs that say ‘bull in field’ which would more accurately say cattle with calves in field, because the bulls are quite rare. However the second field east of the range observation tower did have bulls.   We saw two large white bulls obviously because of their massive shoulder musculature.  From the Stack Rocks turning we did not see any more cattle and the walk was uneventful apart from distant rifle fire. 
Photo: Limestone cliffs, thrift (sea pinks) and a National Trail geocoin

We completed the walk in about 2.5 hours so after I had taken the Ranger back to her van I returned to St Govan’s and walked the range coastal section west until I was turned back by a sentry.   Access is limited here on week days in office hours (best to check times with the recorded information on 01646 662367) This is an outstanding area of limestone cliff topography and today parts of it were carpeted with squill and thrift, a spectacular display accompanied by the sound of the sea crashing on the rocks below.  Along the coast there are also some Iron Age forts where the ditches and banks can be clearly seen. 

Photo: St Govan’s Head and White Sea Campions

The Coast Path across the range is a bridleway and follows the army track somewhat inland of the cliff.  I usually walk the track one way and follow the cliff path on return.  The range has been farmed without chemicals by extensive methods since time immemorial.  Due to the extensive farming methods the range is a rich source of varied wild life, flora and fauna, notably chough.    

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Range Views
Limestone cliffs, thrift (sea pinks) and a National Trail geocoin
St Govan’s Head and White Sea Campions