Imagine a perfect coastal village tucked away from the world. If only it was also a great place for food-lovers, beach-lovers and local historians, with plenty of options for eating, bedding down and exploring, despite its small size. Perhaps it could work for both couples and families, solo travellers and big groups too…but all these dreams squeezed together make such a utopia a dream. Then you visit the north coast of Pembrokeshire, and find yourself in Newport.
A town founded by Normans in the 12th century, Newport became busy because when its port, at the Parrog, became a busy point for the wool trade. Pottery also flourished here: the town’s memorial hall hosts the Medieval Pottery Kiln, excavated in 2017, and believed to be oldest intact in Britain. Nowadays, there are still fishing-boats and artists in town, but Newport’s a sleepier, dreamier place. And it’s essentially two streets: one running from the village’s quirky castle (long privately owned) on the Carningli Mountain that looks over the town, the other the A487, travelling east to west towards Fishguard.
Nevertheless, plenty goes on behind those doors, more than you would expect. Here’s what not to miss when you go.
Have breakfast – and climb the walls – at Pwnc
On the A487 through the village you’ll find the striking blue-and-orange frontage of Pwnc, whose sign boldly offers us Fuel For Brave Living. Inside, under a ceiling hung with bicycles, it certainly does. Here are bacon butties and chilli jam, avocado sandwiches with crispy halloumi, Pwnc porridge with maple syrup and nuts, and weapons-grade coffee Flat Whites will knock your day into action.
And we haven’t even mentioned the best bit about Pwnc yet: the climbing wall room for kids. Leave them climb while you have a moment’s peace (or try not to join in). Plus on sunny days, you can have lunch in their cute outside garden. Loll around here all day, basically. Although there’s so much more to move on to…
Dig deep in the Carningli Centre
Next door to Pwnc you’ll find an antique-hunter’s paradise, with a side-order of eye-popping transport memorabilia. The Carningli Centre has over 10,000 second-hand books (including a brilliant pocket money section for kids), maps, antique furniture, a gallery for local artists, and a room of railway signs from across the UK (these would give any mantelpiece a good dose of quirk). Graham from the shop also restores antique furniture, and with his partner, Ann, they hire out bikes. A whole mish-mash of jumbly loveliness here.
Open the doors on the remarkable Ty Twt
Up on Market Street in school holidays and on bank holidays, you’ll find the doors open on the remarkable Ty Twt (Little House), a tiny museum of dolls’ houses from 1840 to the present day. Founded by Val Ripley and her late sister Pam, this is their personal collection, including their very first house, which they played with as children.
The houses are gorgeous and fascinating too. You could spend hours spotting tiny details like salt and pepper pots, gramophones and showers appearing in the early 20th century, while modernist architecture appears in the 1930s, and there’s even an Anderson shelter in a drawer in a house from the Second World War.
If you’re lucky, Val will also be there, ringing in the entrance fees on a toy cash register. Entrance is £3 for adults and £1.50 for children, or family tickets (2 adults and 2/3 children) are £8.00, and worth every shiny penny.
Support the local arts scene
Newport Collective is a multi-roomed gallery run by local artists and craftmakers and is an impressively peaceful haven on the A487. The variety of goods on show and on sale is fantastic, including bespoke furniture, modern woven blankets, ceramics, stained glass, paintings, sculpture and jewellery.
Have a roaringly good lunch at The Golden Lion
For lunch, The Golden Lion is fantastic, particularly for groups, as it’s huge. The proprietors serve hearty, seasonal stuff like Welsh farmer’s platters, ploughman’s lunches and pies, and their vegetarian options are great (try their broad and spinach burger with harissa mayonnaise if it’s on the menu). They’re also great at seafood in the evening, always offering a catch of the day.
The 300-year-old Golden Lion bar is also lovely for a local Welsh beer, cider or botanical gin. Enjoy your glass by the fire, and cwtch-up, as we say, in the cold winter months.
Another great lunch option is Blas at Fronlas on Market Street, an unpretentious café with wooden tables, and a small deli. Study breakfasts, Blas boards (with cheese, ham or smoked mackerel pate) and homemade cawl are regulars on the menu, as are tasty, simple options for kids.
Then walk off your wares on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path weaves and loops beautifully around the cliff-lined coast north of Newport. Shorter walks include the area’s pretty woodland, while longer treks will get you walking over dunes and around the area’s lime kilns. And if it’s a decent day, you’ll want to venture further into the sand and the sea…
A mile’s easy walk downhill from town takes you to Parrog. Here, fishing boats sit quietly on the now-shallow waters, while North Pembrokeshire’s dramatic hills loom out of the sea. Locals drink their pints at the Newport Boat Club, and eat ice creams at the Morawelon Café, which is very child and dog-friendly (baked local crab and Preseli lamb are also on the menu inside). Kids will enjoy running across the wet sands, and climbing the low level rocks. Adults will enjoy the old-fashioned views, changing gently with the tides and the seasons.
…then visit Newport Sands
Also known as Traeth Mawr (Big Beach), Newport Sands is a longer walk or a drive from town, but it’s worth it. Its mile of flat sand is busy in the summer with canoes and kayaks, some of them heading off to find coves among the cliffs. The hipsterish Cat Rock Café at the golf club is also open to non-members, offering lunch bowls, dirty fries, and steak sandwiches with sriracha mayonnaise.
…then venture slightly further West for Cwm-yr-Eglwys
Five miles west towards Dinas Cross, is the area’s jewel: the magical cove of Cwm-yr-Eglwys. The remains of a chapel sit eerily above the beach, the rest drowned by a huge 19th century storm. On the beach itself, plenty of rockpools, a rocky promontory to climb, and good paddling waters and sand offer a perfect stop-off for families. Parking can be difficult, so get there early.
Have a fantastic dinner
The Tides Kitchen and Wine Bar on Market Street offers fancy delights, and posh fish and chip supper Tuesdays. If you’re looking for something different, the widely popular The Canteen serves home-made pizzas, burgers and salads in American diner-style booths. If you’re self-catering locally, they also do takeaway pizzas (apart from Mondays and Tuesdays in school holidays).
And why wouldn’t you stay? Especially when there are so many places to do so in Newport: small hotels, cute B&Bs and lovely houses to rent. Here, you can sit back and imagine you live in North Pembrokeshire permanently. I’m dreaming of walking, eating and drinking such a scenario already.
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