Narberth has changed a lot over the years, but one thing that has remained constant is its independent spirit. When I was growing up here in the 90s there were a few basic shops on the high street and around twenty grizzled old pubs. But the town had an arts scene bursting forth that brought all sorts of live music and performance to this small Welsh town.
They say that the arts are a great regenerator, and you can see this played out in Narberth. Today it is an effervescent little place with a robust sense of community, a thriving high street packed with independent shops and cafes, and a full calendar of events.
The town also sits on the verdant fringes of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park that stretches inland along the banks of the River Cleddau. So when you’d like to step away from the bustle there are quiet footpaths to follow through meadows and woodland. Not to mention the gorgeous Pembrokeshire coastline within easy reach.
Shopping in Narberth – foodie delights and retro finds
Narberth town centre is the kind of place where you pop in for a pint of milk and end up staying all day. It has a surprising number of interesting shops to browse and meander between. So, where to start?
Let's begin with Narberth’s treasure trove of antique shops. The Malthouse Antique Centre has been around the longest and is tucked away on Back Lane just off the High Street. There is a brilliant breadth of stock on offer with a dozen or so different units. The dealers each have their niche passions, from costume jewellery to vintage Nepalese carpets. The backyard and walled garden are stocked with paraphernalia for the green-fingered.
Back on the high street, you’ll find the maxed-out Narberth Antiques and Interiors, packed floor to ceiling with furniture and curiosities. For yet more antiques, ask for directions to the hidden away Bazaar at the Old Brewery.
For clothes and gifts, you are spoilt for choice. Jago is a firm favourite with its discerning range of clothes, jewellery and homeware. Six the High Street is always nice to browse and Tom Hughes has a classy selection of women’s wear. For something a little different, seek out the Rock n Rolla Emporium for fab retro and rockabilly wear. The Golden Sheaf is full of genteel arts, crafts, cards, toys, lotions and potions, so if you need a gift for someone, this is your one-stop shop.
To stock your kitchen cupboards, head to Ultracomida Deli specialising in Spanish fare, such as cheeses, almonds, tins of paprika, Rioja and olives. Wise Buys is good for local flavours and fresh fruit and veg, and for organic and wholefoods hit the PlumVanilla Deli or the Happy Planet Green Store.
For an arty wander head downtown towards the castle and call in at the Oriel Q Gallery and the Narberth Pottery across the road. The Narberth Museum is also to be found at this end of town. Housed in the historic Bonded Stores, it has a great interactive display as well an independent bookshop and cafe.
Eating and drinking in Narberth – from morning coffee to a fine seafood platter
Where there’s shopping, there must be coffee, and there must be cake. Narberth understands this fact well. There are coffee shops and cafes dotted all over, but I have a few favourites to recommend.
The PlumVanilla Cafe gets a special mention. The kitchen here consistently turns out faultless, flavour-packed plates inspired by the cuisines of India, the Mediterranean and beyond. You’ll also find bowls of bright salads and perfectly crafted cakes. It’s licensed too, so come for breakfast or lunch and then order a cheeky G&T to see you on your way.
The Ultracomida Deli has a lively licensed tapas bar at the back of the shop. You can’t book, so come prepared to queue before being seated at one of the large shared tables. They serve potent coffee and a menu of authentic Spanish tapas.
If I want a special evening out I always book a table at Madtom Seafood Restaurant. The chefs here know exactly what to do with Pembrokeshire’s fresh seafood catch. There are indoor tables as well as a few in greenhouses strung with fairy lights in the courtyard.
When it comes to evening drinks you can’t beat a good pub crawl. Many of the no-frills boozers I remember from my teenage years are still here; just a little more polished these days. The old juke box in The Eagle Inn is still in-situ though.
Striding out – walks and wanders around Narberth
One great thing about Narberth is that you don’t have to jump in a car to find the countryside. It's quite literally on your doorstep. Footpaths lead out from the town taking you along flourishing hedgerows and into tranquil woodlands.
Head to the Town Moor car park and take the footpath down Carding Mill Lane, you’ll soon be enveloped in the calm of the woods. From there you can continue into Canaston Woods and further still to Minwear Forest along the banks of the Cleddau River.
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Check out Traveline Cymru - Journey Planning Wales for public transport options around the area.