Wolsey Lodges guide to the National Parks of the UK and Ireland
- Travel Guide
A History of Britain’s National Parks
Great Britain came late to National Parks. It was perhaps easier for other countries to create National…Read More
Tenby, and the wider county of Pembrokeshire are steeped in history from its origins as a 9th century settlement. The Norman invasion of south Wales prompted the town’s growth as a major port and trading centre and it is rumoured to be the first place in Britain to see an orange brought in by ship through the harbour. Despite its fortifications Tenby was quickly absorbed into the new Norman territory that became known as ‘little England beyond Wales’.
Tenby’s Welsh name is Dinbych y Pysgod, which rather beautifully translates as ‘the fortified town of little fishes’. It is built on a network of tunnels which began in the Middle Ages when Tenby was a busy market town and trading centre. Merchants built underground cellars and tunnels to store their goods, and over time the tunnels were linked to each other, creating a network of passageways, many of them running down to the harbour where goods were loaded and unloaded. The National Trust run the Tudor Merchants House in Tenby – allowing visitors to see what life was like.
These tunnels proved to be a lifesaving feature for 14-year-old Henry Tudor (father of Henry VIII) who was born in Pembroke Castle (8 miles away). He escaped from his enemies by hiding in the tunnels and then sneaking down to the harbour to board a ship taking him to safety in Brittany, France.
Jumping forward to the Victorian era Tenby became a destination for people keen to enjoy the health-giving benefits of its seaside location. The growth of the railways meant people could get to Tenby far quicker than ever before. People dressed in their finest apparel elegantly strolled where they could see and be seen by other members of polite society – the esplanade in Tenby and Lexdon Terrace on the way down to the harbour has some wonderful examples of grand Victorian houses.
Walks were created linking Castle Hill to the major beaches. On the slope of Castle Hill, a bandstand was built for outdoor concerts. Later in the Victorian period, a striking monument to Prince Albert was erected on the top of Castle Hill, within the medieval castle walls.
With its beautifully coloured houses surrounding the harbour and lining the sea fronts it’s easy to see why Tenby has become known as the Napoli of Britain. Any one who has visited that beautiful part of Italy will see the resemblance.
It’s this combination of a beautiful setting, three stunning award-winning beaches, a working harbour, cobbled streets and intriguing history which has made Tenby an increasingly popular place for visitors from around the world. It holds a special place in many hearts and holiday memories bring many generations of the same family back to Tenby year after year.
The picturesque harbour is still in daily use with fishing boats bringing in lobster, crab and other local fish for restaurants and hotels, as well as boats taking visitors over to Caldey Island https://caldeyislandwales.com/ or out in search of seal or porpoise. Keen fishermen can also take charters out to the Bristol channel or around the coast to try their luck.
Tenby boasts the oldest golf courses in Wales – established in 1888, running parallel to South Beach and providing a challenge to the most confident golfer. Further inland there is Trefloyne Manor which is an 18-hole park course, which is a contrast to Tenby.
Visitors who stay in Tenby and its surrounding villages are in a fantastic position to explore Pembrokeshire, with its many attractions.
Within 10 – 15 miles of Elm Grove (based 3 miles from Tenby in the picturesque village of St Florence) there are 5 castles:
The smallest city in Britain is St Davids and this is also located in Pembrokeshire, at the North end and around 1 hr drive from Tenby. It attracts both pilgrims and visitors and it was once said that two pilgrimages to St Davids was worth one to Rome. The stunning cathedral is surrounded by independent shops, restaurants and galleries. Just outside the city is the village of Solva with it’s very attractive harbourside location and galleries – and to the other side of St Davids is Whites and Bay and Porthgain – a beautiful location for walking.
For those who enjoy walking you are spoilt for choice with the world-renowned Pembrokeshire Coastal Path passing within just 2 miles from us at the nearest point. We can print out a variety of walking maps for guests to use to explore. Some highlights include:
For wildlife lovers there are a range of options from Manor House Wildlife Park (1 mile from elm grove) and Folly Farm (5 miles) to the Puffins of Skomer Island, Seals of Marloes and plenty of wildlife in between. Guests can explore via sea or land.
For activity enthusiasts Tenby and surrounding area can offer; coasteering, kayaking, paddle boarding, foraging, horse riding, cycling routes, rock climbing plus many more. We are also now world famous as the Iron Town – home of Ironman Wales each year (September), where we welcome over 2500 competitors and their families for the ironman course which covers most of South Pembrokeshire. The event consists of a 2.2-mile sea swim, a 112-mile bike ride and full 26.2-mile marathon – all in one day. The Long Course Weekend also takes place in the town in July which takes place over 3 days and includes a swim, cycle and run of varying lengths.
Lovers of local produce will not be disappointed – many farm shops and high street outlets sell local goods which range from cheese and gin to beer and chocolate. There are two micro-breweries in Tenby which supply beer to local and national outlets (we stock beer from both in our bar). Visitors can enjoy a huge range of dining options from Michelin recommended fine dining options (The Grove, Coast and Salt Cellar) to wonderful pub food (cosheston brewery, stackpole inn) – more details and recommendations can be seen here: Elmgrove Country House
There really is something for everyone in Tenby and the surrounding areas – and all in easy reach of Elm Grove Country House.
Jane Rees-Baynes, Elm Grove House.