Exploring Pencaer Peninsula and Strumble Head Lighthouse

Strumble Head Lighthouse is located in Pembrokeshire, to the west of Fishguard. It sits on a rocky promontory isolated on its own small island called Ynys Meicl or Michael’s Island. It is a fantastic place to watch for passing whales, dolphins and porpoises and in the autumn grey seals have their young in the sheltered hidden coves. In the summer months the headlands is covered in a blanket of flowers and in the winter months the stormy seas surge through the narrow gap between the island and the mainland in spectacular style. Pencaer Peninsula that the lighthouse sits on includes wide sweeping bays and rocky coves which form part of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

Lighthouse and bay with calm sea

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Strumble Head Lighthouse Facts

Location: North Pembrokeshire, Wales
Nearest Town: Fishguard
Road: A487
GPS: 52.029037°N 5.0705793°W
What Three Words: ///shower.downward.nylon
Postcode: SA64 0JL
Map: OS Explorer 35: North Pembrokeshire
Established: 1908
Automated: 1980
Admiralty Number: A5274
Character: Flashing 4 white every 15 seconds
Height: 17m
Status: Operational
Operator: Trinity House
Access: There is no access across the bridge to the island or the lighthouse itself, but it can be seen from the parking area and coastal path

History of Strumble Head Lighthouse

Strumble Head Lighthouse was one of the last lighthouse to be built in the UK in 1908. The stretch of coast has a long history of taking vessels in the dangerous waters with over 60 being lost during the 1800’s. When transatlantic liners began to use Fishguard while travelling from Ireland as a link to London on the Fishguard railway, the need to light the coastline became apparent. South Bishop lighthouse, 18 miles south-west of Strumble Head helped to guide vessels but something more was needed.

The geography of the island caused problems when the lighthouse was being built. Building materials and supplies were swung across the gap on a cable with the use of winches and once completed the handrail of the small suspension bridge across to the island carried oil into the basement of the lighthouse tower. The bridge is now closed, but it is possible to take the steps down to the end of the bridge.

The original lens was rotated using a massive clockwork mechanism which needed winding every 12 hours but in 1965 this was replaced with a compact electric system. In 1980 the lighthouse was converted to an unmanned automatic operation which is controlled from Harwich in Essex.

Exploring Strumble head

The road from Tresinwen ends in a large parking area. From here it is possible to see the lighthouse making it accessible to all. A sloping path leads down to the observatory where there are panoramic views out across the sea as well as along the coast towards the lighthouse.

While it is not possible to cross the bridge across to the lighthouse a steep path and steps lead down to the end of the bridge where you can see the seals patrolling the rough waters. If you visit at high tide then there will be beautiful waves breaking over the rocky cliffs of the island. The path down to the lighthouse is one of the places to look out for choughs who make this area their home. These small birds will look like crows but look carefully and you will see their red legs and beaks.

From the headland looking across to the lighthouse there is a path that snakes along the coast following Carreg Onnen Bay. This small bay has craggy cliffs that drop into the deep blue sea. It is possible to follow the coast path along the cliffs for as far as you want.

Garn Fawr and Pwll Deri

A short drive from Stumble Head or a decent walk beyond Carreg Onnen Bay on the coast path is Garn Fawr. This is large volcanic rock with views out over Strumble Head. It was once an Iron Age hill fort and during World War One was sued as a lookout post. If you take the time to walk to the top of the ridge at 213-metres you will be rewarded with panoramic views across the Pembrokeshire landscape and on a clear day you may be lucky enough to see the hills of North Wales.

Below Garn Fawr is a small shallow bay called Pwll Deri. This looks tropical on a sunny day and small paths lead along the coast to small coves and headlands, all of which are stunning in the late summer coated in the pinks and yellows of gorse and heather.

Rocky outcrop with blue sky

Photographing Strumble Head

This small part of the Pembrokeshire coast has a wide range of options for photography. It is easy to get distracted by the lighthouse but stepping away from the lighthouse provides a whole range of options.

Strumble Head Lighthouse

The lighthouse is the perfect location for photography and provides everything from details of the lighthouse to wild stormy seas in the winter months. Spring is the best time of year for wild flowers and this is also the time of year when the sun sets behind the lighthouse giving spectacular lighting. A small bench on the mound by the car park makes a great spot for a view of the lighthouse and the surrounding islands.

The channel between the lighthouse and the mainland is also a great sport for photography. You may see seals cruising around and in stormy conditions the waves surging through can give stunning details.

sunset over Strumble Head lighthouse
YayImages \ PhilHarland

Strumble Head Observatory

Just below the parking area is a concrete building. Once a war time look out post it has been converted into a sea observation building. It is one of the best places in the UK to see passing whales and dolphins or just watch the birdlife on the wild flower covered cliff tops. As well as watching for wildlife, the observatory has some of the best views of the lighthouse along the coast. The building provides shelter from the winds so longer exposures are possible even in wild weather.

Carreg Onnen Bay

From the end of the road and the parking area the coast path snakes along the headland to the west of the lighthouse. From here there are stunning views back to the lighthouse where the suspension bridge becomes clear. This headland is covered in wild flowers and will often have seals bobbing around in the surf or hauled up on the rocky shore. In the summer months the sun will set over this headland making it the perfect location for silhouettes or back lighting and just before sunset the textures of the cliffs will pop in the light.

Blue sea and a green coastline

Wildlife

In the autumn seals come to the island and its surrounding waters and you may see young pups on the rocky shoreline. Throughout the year there will be seals bobbing about in the surf but October and November will bring more activity.

Year round it is possible to see and photograph passing whales and dolphins. There is no good time to see them, it is more a game of luck of being in the right place at the right time.

Take time to look for wildflowers that coasting the headlands. I spring you will see pink thrift and wild orchids and later in the season heather and gorse will become more dominant.

The headland is also home to birds with choughs being noisy around the parking area. Off to the side of the path keep your eyes open for smaller birds and maybe even passing gannets or puffins.

Getting to Strumble Head

Strumble Head is located a short distance from Fishguard off the A487. There are clear signposts which take you down to the parking area. The road is narrow and steep with passing places and close to the cliff edge. A bus (404 from Fishguard to St David’s) runs a service down to the parking area if you want an adventure from Fishguard. This bus continues along the coast to St David’s visiting some of the smaller coastal villages.

Places close to Strumble Head

Strumble Head is located on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path so there are many walks to take from the easiest stroll to challenging hikes. As well as walking there are a number of interesting places to visit and photograph.

  • Porthgain – A small village with an interesting harbour. Visit off season or early in the day as it is a popular spot for day trips
  • Abereiddy and Treath Llyfyn – A former slate quarry which now forms a deep blue lagoon a short walk from the village and is a great place for watersports
  • St David’s – The smallest city in the UK with a cathedral and Bishop’s Palace close to the coast
  • Newgale – Wide sweeping beach with stunning views
  • Skomer Island – The places to go in Pembrokeshire for puffin photography.

Pembrokeshire Lighthouses

  • Fishguard North Breakwater
  • The Smalls
  • Skokholm
  • St Anne’s Head High and Low
  • Mid Channel rock
  • Watwick Point Rear
  • Great Castle Head Front and Rear
  • Caldey Island
  • Saundersfoot

INFORMATION AT A GLANCE

Name | Strumble Head Lighthouse
Price | Free
Open Times | Accessible 24/7 but exposed in bad weather conditions
Postcode SA64 0JL
Location | Tresiwen, Pembrokeshire, SA64 0JL
What3Words for Parking |  ///shower.downward.nylon