A week in Pembrokeshire would not be complete without a visit to Tenby. A visit to Tenby by car in the height of the August holiday season, however, was not to be undertaken lightly. Or so we were warned in advance of our visit.
With this in mind we followed the first Park & Ride sign that we saw and what a good decision that was. We parked in the Salterns car park for £3 for the day and were able to use the excellent free bus service to the centre, which ran every 15 minutes and dropped us at the gates to the Walled Town.
Tenby’s walled town with its windy cobbled streets is mostly pedestrianised in high season and so is a delight for those of us who like to stroll. There are fabulous views over to the nearby holy Caldey Island, which can be reached via a short boat trip from Tenby harbour and is home to monks of the Cistercian order.
There are also excellent views of the two nearby beaches, both of which seemed vast and on a dry day would have been very inviting. Unfortunately for us, the day we visited was a pretty soggy one, so neither mooching on the beach or sailing over to Caldey Island seemed very attractive.
There is a nice shopping area with plenty of independent and individual small shops as well as a good choice of cafes and restaurants. Not being great shoppers, we headed for the National Trust’s three-storyed Tudor Merchant’s House.
Built over 500 years ago to house a merchant and his family at a time when Tenby was a prosperous trading port, this house still has much of the original interior. It is currently decorated and furnished with brightly painted replica furniture and wall hangings and has various costumes and activities to recreate life in Tudor Tenby.
Our next rainy day stop was Tenby Museum & Art Gallery.
This little (or so we thought) gem is hidden away on Castle Hill but is well signposted from the centre of town. At £4 per adult with free admission for accompanied children, this really is excellent value whether it’s raining outside or not!
The museum is actually quite large once inside and gives an excellent grounding in the history of Tenby from ancient geology and archaeology through to the development of modern day tourism. As an ex tourism lecturer I found the latter fascinating and particularly enjoyed the 10 minute film (and the accompanying sit down!). Even with our little knowledge of Tenby it was fun to spot local landmarks that were still part of the Tenby tourism experience today.
Another aspect of the museum that we enjoyed was the displays on local eminent people or people who had a connection to the town such as Dylan Thomas, Roald Dahl and Kenneth Griffiths. This applied to the Art Collection too. It reminded us of the Cockermouth Wall of Fame that we’d wondered at on our visit to the Lake District. Small towns producing great people.
We came across a couple of blue plaques after we left the museum. One commemorating the stay of Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir William and Lady Hamilton in 1802.
The other highlighting the regular visits of Road Dahl as a child with his mother and siblings.
We spent about 4 hours in Tenby but could easily have spent the whole day had it stopped raining! There is so much to see and explore in the surrounding area. Ah well, as ever, its always good to leave something for next time ……