THE wide deserted beach dotted with rockpool-dwelling molluscs and populated by small shrubby trees atop cliffs hadn’t changed.

The completely unspoilt Glen Beach in the seaside village of Saundersfoot was exactly how I remembered it from what I described as 'the best ever' Davis family holiday in 1991.

And it was so good we kept on coming back to Pembrokeshire, an unspoilt corner of south west Wales. Again. And again. And again some more.

Part of the problem with returning to a favourite holiday destination after the passing of many years is that it’s never as special as you remember it.

But that wouldn’t be a problem, I discovered, as I had been lured back to a place where, in some ways, time had stood still and in others it had changed completely.

Pembrokeshire is quietly honing itself into a holiday destination that caters for families, couples, singles and retired folk be they walkers, foodies, sports lovers or culture vultures. Think Cornwall without all the hullabaloo and significantly less traffic.

This time around I was staying in a cottage back in my beloved Saundersfoot, arranged through Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire.

It was the ultimate romantic cottage by the sea I had always dreamed of staying in. This listed period thatched art and crafts property is full of character with an inglenook fireplace and beams.

The master bedroom offers partial views of the huge sandy sweep of the village beach, a five minute walk from the cottage. The cottage sleeps seven in four bedrooms - one with an en suite downstairs and the remainder nestling in the thatched roof.

It also has a spacious sitting room, a dining room, plus a well-equipped kitchen with a space age coffee machine that would promote anyone to the title of head barista..

With the sun shining every day bar one during our six day stay, the ample-sized garden was a welcome retreat. Beautifully laid out and with two seating areas, a paved terrace and a roundavel, a traditional circular African-style dwelling with a conical thatched roof, this meant a sunny spot was guaranteed for morning, noon and evening.

Not only is the cottage close to the main village beach where watersports are on offer for those who are feeling energetic, the village's shops and restaurants are nearby too.

Saundersfoot has embraced the new in recent years. We enjoyed the ever popular walk through disused coal railway tunnels carved through cliffs which lead from the village beach to Wiseman’s Bridge. This accessible, flat walk now has a sight that sees the coal industry meet something that looks like it was built on Grand Designs.

At Coppet Hall Beach you’ll find glass-fronted restaurant Coast, metres away from the golden shoreline. This striking, modern eatery prides itself on offering Pembrokeshire cuisine from land and sea - think John Dory with duck egg, leeks and Beaujolais sauce and salt aged fillet with mushroom, short rib and cheesemaker salad to whet your appetite.

We also took a trip to Cwm Deri Vineyard, a short drive away from Saundersfoot at Martletwy, where we left our scepticism about British wine far behind as we enjoyed samples of their red, white and rosé blends along with their delicious elderflower gin. The vineyard also offers the true glamping experience with shepherd hut accommodation on site for those who wish to take advantage of Cwm Deri's restaurant, which is open for lunch and dinner, and, of course, the accompanying wine.

Cwm Deri also has a shop in Tenby, which is just three miles down the coast from Saundersfoot. Coastal Cottages has many properties in this harbour town and popular family resort, home to numerous restaurants, shops, cafes and pubs all linked by cobble streets. Like Saundersfoot it has stunning beaches and offers regular boats going out to Caldey Island, a popular day trip destination.

We took a ten mile drive to Pembroke, a charming walled town complete with Georgian town houses, a 15th century chapel and close to Manorbier beach and the stunning Bosherton lily ponds. The main draw was the Norman castle, one of the most complete in the UK and the birthplace of Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty.

As a keen National Trust member I was thrilled to happen upon Colby Woodland Gardens, just five miles down the road from Saundersfoot.

With a walled garden and a huge eight acre woodland garden that leads down to Amroth beach, I couldn't get enough of this tranquil valley.

And with a picturesque period property to return to where I could put my feet up and relax with a refreshing white wine in a beautifully laid cottage garden, I can safely say that Pembrokeshire is a destination for children and adults alike.


Joanna Davis stayed at The Cottage as a guest of Coastal Cottages.

Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire is a family-owned, independent cottage agency featuring more than 450 seaside cottages and country retreats in Pembrokeshire, the UK’s only Coastal National Park. These vary from bijou houses sleeping two, cosy cottages full of character, beachside retreats and grand Georgian country town houses sleeping 10.

Prices for a seven-night holiday in The Cottage in 2018 start at £830, rising to £1,999 in peak season.

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