Short river walk (Haverfordwest)
It's good to walk, therefore why not step out and sample some of the walks your town has to offer. This pleasant and interesting walk is one of a number of town walks which have been produced for you by Pembrokeshire County Council.
Enjoy this relatively easy walk which provides excellent river views mixed with deciduous woodland all within short walking distance of Haverfordwest Town Centre.
Walking: The Tourist Information Centre is in the town centre.
Bus: Haverfordwest is served by a number of bus services that link it with rest of Pembrokeshire and beyond Bus Timetables
Train: Nearest station is at Haverfordwest, it is a short walk from the town centre. Arriva Train Wales
Road Map: Multimap Search for "Haverfordwest".
Parking: There is a multi storey car park near the Tourist Information Centre
Toilets: Public toilets at the start and finish alongside the Tourist Information Centre and Haverfordwest Bus Station
Refreshments: Haverfordwest has a wide variety of cafes, restaurants and public houses.
Start/Finish: Haverfordwest Tourist Information Centre
Distance: 0.76 miles, 3/4 hour eastern bank / 0.7 miles, 3/4 hour western bank
Terrain: Varying between, Tarmac, Grass one section may be muddy after rain therefore take appropriate footwear
Car Park- 1
The Cleddau Reaches route stretches along both sides of the river through the town centre and out to countryside to the north and to the south of the town. Just a short stroll will bring you into abundantly green spaces, with something for everyone to enjoy. Some information about the history, culture, wildlife and regeneration of places along the walk, is also provided.
- This walk is the northern end of the Cleddau Reaches. Begin this lovely riverside walk at the Haverfordwest Tourist Information Centre (TIC) and walk to the old bridge ahead of you.
WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF A KING - The earliest written record of a bridge in Haverfordwest is 1378. The Old Bridge was built in 1726, to replace an earlier bridge damaged by floodwater. It is said that Henry Tudor crossed this bridge on his march to the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. His victory resulted in his coronation as King Henry VII.
At this point, look back and you should see the lofty Norman castle presiding over the town.
- From the bridge heading up river (north) on the Bridge Meadow.
- Following the river's edge walk along the car park and through the subway, the path enters the Bridge Meadow play area.
- Continue walking up river via the football pitch until you come to a small crossing into a field called the Ghyll.
THE WHITE LADY OF THE GHYLL - The only thing left of the ancient residence Prengergast House, abandoned by the powerful Stepney Family during the 1700s, is the story of the White Lady of the Ghyll (pronounced guile). In the months of October to February when then mist rolls up the field from the river and back again, locals have reported seeing a vaporous figure floating along the small tract of land call the ghyll (perhaps meaning sheep's walk in Welsh) and disappearing into the mist. The story goes that she is waiting for the return of her husband, a former owner of the manor, who set off to protect Charles I in the civil war, never to return.
- Continue up river until you come to the bridge over the Cleddau River. An historic view of St Davids Church togeth with glimpses of the castle and town can be seen from this point.
BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER CLEDDAU - A new footbridge was installed in 2020 with funding from Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government, Haverfordwest Town Council, Bridge Meadow Trust and Pembrokeshire County Council as part of a larger project to enable us all to enjoy the river immediatley on our doorstep.
The project includes management of the invasive Himalayan Balsam. When ripe, the seedpods explode into the air. It grows so large it shadows other plants and outcompetes them. Introduced by Victorian gardeners in 1839, it is now illegal to allow the spread into the wild. We know it’s unlikely we’ll never eradicate it, but we are trialling ways to manage the problem. One idea that is working well is the set-up of grazing paddocks – horses do a good job of trampling the plant.
WILD SWIMMING - We are near the site of the old river weir that was built to service the mill. Before the leisure centre was built in town, this is where locals came to meet their friends and learn to swim. At the Haverfordwest Town Museum you can see the prize cup that was awarded to the Haverfordwest Boys’ Grammar School swimming competition. The names for the area on record are Headwaters and Big Pool, and The Darling.
The weir pictured above was eventually removed by the MOD and the leat blocked to make way for the pumping station up river.
- Leaving the bridge you are now entering the Old Mill grounds on the western bank heading down river
- The path widens out again with a crushed stone surface and walkers can enjoy the delights of this pleasant walk in deciduous woodland with the Cleddau River on the left, and the remains of the Old Mill watercourse or leat on the right.
The leat (the watercourse dug by hand and lined with stone) conducted water from the river to turn the wooden waterwheel that powered the mill.
- The path continues winding through the woodland where there is much flora and fauna to be seen, very little remains of the Old Mill itself although there is an interesting ruined bridge/tunnel at the disused mill watercourse
PUTTING THE TOWN ON THE MAP - This is the spot where a huge mill once presided and where hundreds of people were once employed. Earliest records of its existence date from 1764 and over the years it was a hive of industry milling corn, wool, paper and snuff. It is thought to have been set up as a paper mill around 1830 by master paper-maker Benjamin Harvey who made Haverfordwest famous for paper-making and made his fortune in the process. Today it is hard to picture, but the mill would have been enormous. It was said to be larger than Prendergast Church. In an 1832 newspaper article about a fire at the mill, the size of the building was reported as ‘extensive’. Only traces of the mill remain, but the observant will find a bridge/tunnel on which the mill sat, a coal hole, the leat, walls of a worker’s cottage, and even the remains of a narrow gauge railway line.
- Continue along the tarmac route until you arrive at the road heading down river (south) using the pedestrian crossing at the main road cross into Swan Square
THE SWANS OF SWAN SQUARE - The graceful swans have long been a familiar sight in Haverfordwest, as evidenced by the naming of Swan Square and the old Swan Hotel reputed to date from 1536, but demolished in 1970. Today the swans continue to bring joy to the urban environment. Look out for nests around April in the reed fringes close to the water’s edge.
- You are now back to the Old Bridge and will be able to see the location you started off from.