6 Reasons to Holiday in Solva

holiday in solva st davids escapes


Solva, named in Conde Nast Traveller’s recent article “The Ultimate Wales Road Trip”, is a small village with big appeal.  Its streets, filled with colourful fisherman’s cottages overlooking an idyllic limestone harbour, also whisper of smugglers, pirates and Celts.  Its shores are dotted with shipwrecks, fossils and forts, birds of prey, dolphins and sandy coves.
If this isn’t enough to entice you, we’ve made a list of the top 6 reasons to holiday in Solva, teamed with the perfect cottage for your romantic retreat.  You’re welcome!

Solva harbour st davids escapes

Crabbing Solva St Davids Escapes

Holiday in Solva because….

  1. It’s a historically important port village

Once upon a time, this was the main trading centre of this entire bay.  It’s the most sheltered anchorage in this beautiful curve of Pembrokeshire, and as such, it became known for the import of lime.  You can see the remnants of its once illustrious industry dotted along the harbour – 4 of the 10 200-year-old original lime kilns are still intact.  Due to the quicklime industry, Solva once had 30 registered trading ships, and subsequently, a village of beautiful fisherman’s cottages, pirate taverns and places of worship sprung up around the water.  Today, Solva is the Polperro of the West.  The Harbour is now a boating centre with its own active rowing club.  It even has a group of cold-water swimmers, known as The Blue Tits.  Fishing boats bob on the water, crab is caught on lines by children in the harbour, as well as being served in the cafes. Solva is the perfect place to relax with your family in one of the few unspoilt fishing villages in Britain.

Gwadn Solva St Davids Escapes

Beach Solva St Davids Escapes

Coast Solva St Davids Escapes

Holiday in Solva because…

  1. It has amazing views

The harbour in Solva is beautiful – who doesn’t love a sheltered inlet with bobbing boats and birds flying overhead?  But it’s the paths leading out of Solva that have captured our hearts.  Follow a path up from the harbour and along the spine of land named The Gribin.  It’s a short but steep walk, and the views from the point do no disappoint.  From here, look down over at Gwadn, a small and sandy coastal inlet accessible by a small wooden bridge.  The other side is the harbour, and out before you is the whole curve of St Bride’s Bay.  You can see why there are remnants of iron age forts dotted all along this stretch of coastline.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this view?



Holiday in Solva because…

  1. It has the most beautiful cottages

The deep ravine in Solva divides the village into two halves, both of which are dotted with beautiful cottages, once home to fishermen and their families, now brightly painted to highlight their idyllic beauty.  Notice that the most traditional cottages are limewashed, as is the tradition with coastal cottages in Pembrokeshire to protect them from water ingress.   Iron oxides in the earth and clay were used to colour the limewash, making Solva’s sea view cottages colourful and bright!

Boats in Solva St Davids Escapes

We have some beautiful holiday cottages available in Solva to rent from St Davids Escapes!  That’s right, St Harmon holiday cottage sleeps 10 and is suitable for family holidays or couples wanting a romantic break away.  Book now to avoid disappointment!

Solva Woollen Mill St Davids Escapes

Holiday in Solva because…

  1. It has the oldest working woollen mill in the county

Lower Solva is the base of the valley that once was a glacial causeway that melted to fill Solva harbour.  Just a few miles outside Solva heading north-west is Middle Mill, the head of that same valley, covered in trees and vegetation – a magical woodland spot.  Within this valley is Solva Woollen Mill, the oldest continuous working mill in Pembrokeshire.  It specialises in carpets and rugs but has been known in its 112-year history to have produced flannel, wool for knitting, and even a tweed suit for then Prime Minister the Rt Hon Ramsey Macdonald!  It’s been recently refurbished, and you can see the original water wheel and have afternoon tea in the café and shop.


Rowing Club Solva St Davids Escapes

Coast Path Solva St Davids Escapes

Smalls Lighthouse Solva St Davids Escapes

Holiday in Solva because…

5. Its tales of smugglers and lighthouses

In true ancient fishing port style, Solva has a wealth of interesting tales and legends.

Its most famous is the story of Smalls Lighthouse, which changed the way lighthouses were run worldwide.  Built in Solva harbour and then shipped out to a rock 24 miles out to sea, Smalls was manned by a 2 man team in 1801.  The pair did not get along, and so when one died in a tragic accident, the other created a coffin and tied it to the side of the lighthouse so that he would not get blamed for the disappearance of his colleague.  As a storm raged on and the hand of the dead man came loose from the coffin and tapped on the window of the lighthouse, so the other man slowly lost his mind.  It was made mandatory that lighthouses were manned by 3-man teams until their automation in 1987.

Tales of smuggling around Solva and nearby islands Skomer and Skokholm are widespread.  It’s purported that the oldest cottages in Solva have hidden cupboards and shafts, once used for hiding contraband salt, tallow and liquor brought in during the dead of night.  Now the only imports are the local fish on offer in the eateries of the village!

Crab Sandwiches St Davids Escapes

Holiday in Solva because…

  1. It has the most delicious array of food!

A quick walk through lower Solva will explain exactly what we mean – from Mrs Will the Fish and her freshly dressed crab and fish platters pulled straight from the sea, to Mamgu’s (the chic café literally meaning “Grandma”) freshly cooked welsh cakes, there’s so much culinary goodness to be found in one small village.  If you’re dreaming of Fresh Crab Sandwiches then you can’t really beat the ones at The Old Pharmacy Tea Rooms – they only use local crab landed in Solva, and for a waterside location head over to 35 Main Street – they have a great selection of vegan and gluten free treats. For Sunday Lunch, our favourite has to be The Cambrian Inn for a Welsh Lamb Shoulder or Welsh Beef topside Roast dinner.

Solva Boats St Davids Escapes

There are many more reasons to visit Solva than we can cram into a blog post, but we don’t want to give away all its secrets! Why not come and discover them for yourselves?  Visit our Cottages page to view properties in Solva and nearby St Davids for your perfect St Davids Escapes.


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