Nolton and Nolton Haven are on the west coast of Pembrokeshire in St Brides Bay.
Picture: The beach at Nolton Haven at low tide
The little beach at Nolton Haven is a nice, sandy and sheltered cove with high cliffs on both sides. There's a reasonably big car park behind the beach provided by The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Next to the car park is The Mariners Arms pub. A stream flows out over the beach and can affect the water quality after heavy rain so it's best not to play in the stream itself. Generally, however, the beach is good for bathing and is usually awarded a seaside award (rural). Currents can be strong at very low spring tides.
Plant fossils are found in large boulders and rocks at the base of the cliffs and, in some places, veins of coal can be seen.
Picture: Nolton Haven beach from behind The Mariners Arms
Above the beach is a small grey stone chapel, believed to be the most westerly place of worship in the U.K. In fact, if it was a few yards further west, it would topple off its rugged cliff-top site onto the sandy beach below. It is a grade II listed building, and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2008.
There's a small congregation, but despite this and the geographic remoteness, their voice has been heard in a much wider context in the past. Together with other churches in the pastorate, they have supplied pre-recorded morning services for Radio Wales, and one memorable 'live' service for radio 4. Unfortunately, this took place during a horrendous thunder storm, which not only set fire to one of the oil refineries in Milford Haven, but also cut off the land line to Cardiff. The recorded service was later broadcast on Radio Wales and the BBC World Service, which resulted in letters from as far away as the West Indies.
An unusual feature of the congregation is that on a normal Sunday nearly everyone in the pews will be related to someone else, and most will have direct family connections back to the founders of the chapel in 1856. The surrounding fields have been farmed by chapel members and their forefathers for generations. Harvest thanksgiving services have much greater significance here than in an urban community.
People who have moved away from Nolton often travel long distances in order to worship in their family church. The sense of community gives a special feeling of strength and fellowship to the congregation, which is demonstrated in the warmth of the welcome offered to visitors, and in the popular gatherings in the Vestry after Sunday service for a cup of tea and a chat.
Visitors are welcome to the Sunday service, which starts at 10am, followed by tea or coffee at 11am.
Adjoining the chapel is a small art gallery.
Nolton is a hamlet about half a mile inland from Nolton Haven. There are several interesting looking buildings plus Pembrokeshire's biggest riding school, Nolton Stables, whose speciality is beach riding - not on Nolton Haven but on nearby Druidston Haven.
There are plenty of self catering cottages available in both Nolton and Nolton Haven. There are some on the beach front itself and some in the villages. Above Nolton Haven is a small chalet park and a caravan park with self catering units available to rent. Camp sites or touring caravan sites can be found nearby but not in the villages themselves.
North of Nolton Haven is Hilton Court Gardens and Craft. An old courtyard has been nicely converted into a restaurant and a range of interesting shops. The garden centre and cafe are behind the courtyard and behind this are 10 acres of gardens and lakes that are free to wander around.
Pictures: The Courtyard and Gardens at Hilton Court
ID: 2311 Revised: 30/5/2012