In my never-ending quest to get my kids away off their phones by taking them away to some WiFi-free, reception-free corner of Britain, last year we packed up our motley collection of bodyboards, scuba masks and wetsuits (none of us are huge fans of chilly British waters) and headed to a remote campsite on the Pembrokeshire coast.
'The Blue Lagoon is a wonderful spot for cliff-diving and coasteering from the craggy rocks or the ruined industrial buildings, for wild swimming and for canoeing and kayaking. Few things make you feel more alive than plunging face-first into cold water!'
On the shore of the glorious Pembrokeshire National Park, Celtic Camping and Bunkhouse Accommodation occupies Pwll Caerog, a 250-acre National Trust working farm. It has three bunkhouses for groups of 12, 14 and 24, and then tent and motorhome pitches in a vast sloping field with stupendous sea views. Best of all, it has direct access to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a challenging, mainly clifftop National Trail with lots of ascents and descents. A 10-minute steep descent took us down into a hidden cove perfect for testing our water-sports gear.
While the rest of the UK baked in a heatwave, we woke up on our first morning at the site to swirling fog. This is the moment you wonder, as a parent, about the wisdom of carting your crew off to a middle-of-nowhere campsite with no on-site entertainment.
Deciding that there was nothing to it but to just enjoy the local surroundings in the teeth of the gloom, we took our bodyboards to Whitesands Bay, a Blue Flag white-sand curve deemed one of Britain’s best surfing beaches. It was elemental but fun, with a decent café where we warmed back up over hot chocolate. The following morning we set forth again for a similar but sunnier day on nearby Newgale Beach.
The highlight of our Pembrokeshire camping trip, however, was our day at the Blue Lagoon at Abereiddi just up the road from the campsite. This now-flooded former slate quarry accessible only by a short coastal hike is a wonderful spot for cliff-diving and coasteering from the craggy rocks or the ruined industrial buildings, for wild swimming and for canoeing and kayaking. The chill factor combined with the height of the old brick walls made jumping a challenge, but once you've worked your way up to it, fewer things make you feel more alive than plunging face-first into cold water!
Back at the campsite, the screen-deprived boys used their sleeping bags for impromptu sack races, played football, visited the resident pigs, played with my brother's dog and toasted marshmallows over the fire. The farm even has the remains of a Bronze Age fort to investigate.
A 10-minute drive away, St David's – resting place of Wales's patron saint and the UK's smallest city in terms of population – was useful for shopping for campsite essentials and food, for forgotten surfing essentials such as surf-boots, and for pub meals when we couldn't be bothered to fire up the barbie again…
Read more about family holidays and breaks in Pembrokeshire.
By Rhonda Carrier