Hidden away behind the mountains in west Wales is a scenic village with a “hippy spirit” and “everything you could possibly want”. Newport – located in Pembrokeshire – is a unique area in the UK due to its busy high street, despite it resting in one of Pembrokeshire National Park’s most scenic places.
Newport has been likened to Tenby on the north coast of Wales, but with more style and less noise. The west Welsh area’s location might be the reason behind the particular residents it attracts to live there as well as the guests it reels in for vacations.
Ed Sykes – who owns Llys Meddyg hotel and restaurant in the village – said that Newport “hasn’t deviated too far from its roots”. However, the wonderland of Newport can be experienced by casting your eyes on the fisherman’s houses made of stone along with a range of shops, cafes, and pubs as well as its surroundings.
The out-of-this-world Preseli mountains can be located above Newport to the north, where they can be wrapped in a mist that takes a trip across the peaks like a kerchief. The Welsh hills are filled with prehistoric woodlands and stone circles monuments, which is a place revered throughout the centuries and continues to inspire artists and artisans.
According to folklore, if you spend a night on Carningli mountain you either become one of two things – a poet or go crazy. These mountains are where sand artist Rachel Shiamh frequents for inspiration and where marks the top of the Gwaun Valley, a “land that time forgot” and home to the burgeoning Bluestone Brewery, WalesOnline reports.
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Ed said: “Everything you could possibly want, it’s all here. The estuary, the mountains, the beach, mythical stones, artisan producers – it’s got a nice diversity to it. It’s a creative community with a hippy spirit.”
The hotel and restaurant owner has also started running guided e-mountain biking trips due to his enthusiasm for Newport and surrounding areas. From the gnarled and twisted oaks at Ty Canol, a 6,000-year-old woodland, to the Neolithic Pentre Ifan burial chamber dating from 3,500BC, there is endless amounts of adventure and curiosity to delve into.
Ed spent his childhood on a farm in the nearby Letterston area and took on Llys Meddyg 20 years ago. The businessman has many avenues of work to get stuck into, such as a smokery, a wine shop, cellar bar and secret garden – an unanticipated gem behind the main building, where visitors can devour evening meals. He even has a mobile sauna in a trailer.
Ed said: “You have to adopt more ideas to make it more interesting. It’s about making sure people maintain their identity, it’s about the human experience. You allow people to be themselves. It’s about giving them an authentic experience. It’s not a rehearsal, it’s not a script, it’s about allowing people to express themselves.”
The village – which is split by the A487 road to Fishguard port – has two unique parts. These include a bunch of shops in the centre surrounding the castle and the church, and the original maritime area down the Parrog. This unquestionably attractive village was built around the old port at the delta of the river Nevern.
People broke down flint to craft tools for hunting and fishing on the banks of the Nevern during the Middle Stone Age, which later became known as Trefdraeth – the area on the sand/shore – which gives the village its name today. When the Normans conquered northern Dyfed at the time, the Marcher Lords ruled firstly from Nevern Castle and then Newport Castle in 1197.
At present, Newport Castle – situated above the village – is a private house with castle walls that overlook the town, the bay and the Irish Sea. The original quay – which was built at around 1566 – drew trade from Bristol, north Wales and Ireland.
40 ships are reported to have traded from Newport prior to 1875. At high water, vessels were stored up at the quay walls and, at low water, the ships unloaded on the beach, either into horse-drawn carts or, for some cargoes such as limestone, by dumping on the beach for collection at a later time.
They traded all types of commodities, including coal, bricks, timber, wine, salt and guano as well as limestone and exported anthracite, slates, herrings, agricultural products and wool. During the 1900s, the Parrog would have still been a working harbour as it allowed large vessels to come in at high tide.
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In 2023, the Parrog is a more refined area with a yacht club and berths for sail boats. It is also the summer home for Pasta a Mano, where Welsh-Italian Derw Robertson-Jacobs provides handmade pasta out of a small truck.
However, there are indications of its history through the remaining old quay walls and two ancient lime kilns. This is where it is the best place in the west to enjoy a sunset, with the dark sands of Newport beach mirroring the sky’s neon colours and Dinas Island providing exaggerated silhouettes of the headland.
During low tide, it is feasible to paddle across the mouth of the river and to get onto Newport beach, or alternatively it is a three-mile drive around the golf course on the opposing side. However, this is potentially worth the added detour due to its free parking, toilets and the eye-catching Caffi Mawr.
The topic of second homes often arises during a visit, as Cwm-yr-Eglwys – located further up the road – was made a showpiece for the problem and the area’s second homes should not be overlooked. However, Newport held its community attachment which can be illustrated through Paul James – a butcher who has lived in the village for over 40-years.
Paul was “born and bred” in Newport and is very much Welsh. However, he revealed that it is eye-opening how much you hear the language being used on the streets and in cafes. He explained: “If you know them and they speak Welsh, then you speak to them in Welsh.”
The high street is continuing to grow with the help of both local residents and holidaymakers, but this does come with its own issues. In 2022, WalesOnline discovered how community members were hopelessly trying to save a 141-year-old shop as they lamented how Newport had formerly lost two bakers, a hairdressers and a petrol station.
Paul announced one tremendous positive the town offers is that is obtains everything within “walking distance”, despite negativity surrounding the area. However, heading the other way is Tom Meredith – from Pontypool before he moved to Newport – who owns his shop Ffynnon. Tom made his move over to Newport with his partner dreaming of “semi-retirement”.
WalesOnline questioned why, to which he threw his arms up in the direction of the castle, as he said: “Well, just look at it.” Although making his move for a relaxed working environment, Tom confessed that he works seven days a week but absolutely loves it. “People seem appreciative that we’ve opened this in Newport,” he said.
Tom did not want to unveil a “typical tourist shop” and he takes great pleasure in sourcing sustainable and moral products from across the UK as much as possible, while commissioning local artists. The Newport community is powerful, as he said: We’ve got the best social life we’ve ever had.”
Paul continued: “We’ve got a really good mix of older more established traders and then those newer ones coming in too. We want to really put Newport on the map. We want it to be a retail destination as well as a holiday place.
“In some ways you want to keep it a secret and we’ve got lots of second homes but we rely on that. I would like to keep the balance. It would be awful to get to a point where the village was unable to sustain the pubs and the post office and the school.”
He added: “We’ve got everything here and you don’t actually have to go out of Newport. The local community want to preserve that.” They’ve just managed to revive the chamber of commerce after it has been away for nine-years.
Tom revealed that many people advanced to the Welsh village for both the lifestyle and to earn a living. After WalesOnline spoke to residents, this can be proved as true after hearing from Kirk and Jenny Sneade – who’ve renovated a rundown traditional barn into what is now known as the best kept secret in Wales.
No one was found on Tuesday at the Golden Lion pub, as it is closed on Tuesday which is common for some business in the Welsh area after busy weekends, particularly if the sun is out. However, the Golden Lion has been described as one of the best pubs in Wales.
This is due to its history of serving locals and travellers for more than 300 years, and it also has a respectable selection of local ales and Welsh ciders. In the winter months, the boozer is a place where you can cosy up next to a burning hot fireplace.
The pub provides frequent live music nights on Saturdays, and there is the notion that time slows down during a visit in the sun. During a trip there, James Scale was serving coffee in Pwnc cafe which he owns and runs with his wife Jana.
James – speaking across his newly-renovated counter – said: “It’s a great vibrant busy wonderfully vibrant town.” The cafe has been altered over spring to include an ice cream counter as well as a clothing business, which can be found upstairs.
Pwnc cafe’s co-owner knows his regulars and even has their orders memorised before they get up to the counter.
James is confident the families will visit his cafe along with those with second homes in the Welsh village. He stated: “Newport appeals to lots of people, including second home owners and they are all really supportive to local businesses. They go out of their way to support us.”
There is a host of high-flying business in Newport, including Blas at Fronlas cafe, pizza restaurant Canteen, health food shop Wholefoods of Newport, and clothing store Elements. Those enjoying a holiday at the Welsh town could enjoy glamourously calming days in Newport.
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