The beautiful village of Solva, conveniently located on the northern coast of St Bride's Bay between St David's and Broadhaven in the county of Pembrokeshire, South West Wales, is a popular seaside retreat for both old and young alike. Being in two parts, Upper Solva and Lower Solva, the village has plenty to offer for all the family. Lying upon a deep ravine on the estuary of the River Solva, the village offers glorious views over the north coast of St Bride's Bay. Children will love Solva, whether fishing for crabs from the harbour wall at high tide or rock-pooling or paddling on the beach at low tide, there is plenty of fun to be had at Solva.
For the more adventurous, why not take a boat trip from the picturesque fjord-like harbour to have a close up view of the beautiful cliffs and wildlife around the islands of Solva. Watch first-hand the lifting of a lobster pot and discover what it contains in the way of local marine life.
Solva has many amenities suited to visitors, with many traditional shops, a post office, grocers and an off licence for any necessities. Lower Solva can be found higher up the narrow river valley at the end of the Solva Harbour and attracts many visitors for its fine selection of restaurants and the two art galleries. The Raul Speek Gallery on Main Street houses paintings, photography and jewellery, as well as a gift shop including small gifts and cards. There are regular art classes and painting materials are on sale within the gallery. The Swinfield Gallery again situated on Main Street, displays artist Simon Swinfield's collection of watercolours, often of the beautiful Pembrokeshire countryside and coast. Original and limited edition watercolour prints are also available to buy.
Another interesting attraction of Lower Solva is Solva Pottery, which displays and sells collectables and antiques. The Pottery is welcome to all, but visitors are advised to phone first to confirm that someone is available on the premises.
If home-grown, fresh produce is what you are after, Spring Meadow Farm and Nursery is within easy access to Solva, near to Caerfarchell. A 13-acre market garden, fresh fruit, vegetables and seasonal salads are all available to buy. There are also spring bedding plants, clematis and herbaceous perennials available.
For a bite to eat, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafes dotted about the village and the harbour to whet your appetite. The Old Pharmacy serves local lobster and crab, and vegetarian options are available. Trinity Quay, situated along the harbour, serves good food served up with fine views of St Brides Bay.
Serving homemade cakes, ice cream and hot and cold drinks, Trinity Quay is the perfect place to dine during the summer months.
Set in the scenic Prembrokeshire National Coastal Park, Solva is an excellent choice for those who enjoy walking and sailing. The 30 square miles of St Bride's Bay entices many to take to the water, whether they be experienced sailors or those who just like messing about in boats.
Watersports: Established in 1986, the Solva Sailing School offers a wide range of sailing trips around the bay, an ideal opportunity to see all kinds of wildlife in their natural habitat. Activities include boatbuilding, as well as hiring a 'skiffle' boat, ideal for use on the sea or on rivers. If the 'skiffle' does not entice you, the 'wheelipunt', the traditional harbour dinghy, may take more of your fancy. Solva runs a Regatta every summer, which gives both adult and children the opportunity to learn to row and also to participate in raft building. This is definitely one for the whole family.
Diving and kayaking are popular within the village. There is a small fee charged for using the slipways down to the beach and a small fee must be paid to the Solva Boat Owners if boats are being launched from either Trinity or Sand Quay.
Easter Monday Duck Race: Solva holds an annual Easter Monday Duck Race, when plastic ducks are released into the river at Middle Mill, floating downstream towards the finish line near Solva Harbour. The winner of the race being the first duck to cross under the footbridge at Lower Solva car park. You can pay just £1 to buy a 20th share in a duck, with proceeds going to charity. The Duck Race is a fun event and will definitely entertain the kids!
Woollen Mill: Solva's Woollen Mill, just a mile from the Solva village centre, provides fascinating insight into Pembrokeshire's place within the industrial revolution. The Woollen Mill, more commonly known as Middle Mill, was moved from its original location in St David's to its present location in Solva in 1907, and now remains as one of the only two mills left in Pembrokeshire today. As a woollen mill, it is reported that in 1929 the then Prime Minister of Britain, J. Ramsey MacDonald, had a suit woven from the Middle Mill tweed. However, David Cameron would find it difficult doing the same, as today the mill has moved on to manufacture carpets and rugs. Part of the mill has been converted into a comfortable tearoom, where the overhead line shafts and drive wheel can still be seen, providing a fascinating place for those with a taste for history to visit. The old engine shed and weaving shed have been converted into a shop where gifts and cards are available to buy.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
There are many walks criss-crossing the landscape in this beautiful area of Pembrokeshire, including the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, soon to be part of the all-new “Wales Coastal Path.” It is a pleasant three mile walk to the small Cathedral City of St Davids in the west, and a similar distance to the wide sandy beach at Newgale Sands to the east. The coastline attracts many walkers for its incredible views across the bay and the exposed Cambrian rocks are popular with geologists. It is well worth walking through the Gribin fields at the back of Solva if only to witness the magnificent view across St Bride's Bay, some of the most picturesque views Wales has to offer.
There are clear indications that the area of Solva existed as a settlement for many thousands of years as evidenced by the Iron Age forts and other archaeological finds in the Gribbin area close to the present village. In medieval times Solva made its mark as a small port, and by the 1800s it had become one of Pembrokeshire's prime trading centres. By Victorian times, Solva had become the main lime-burning centre for the area of St David's Peninsula. In total, there were 10 kilns in operation at the time and their remains can be seen from the East Side of Solva Harbour.
Accommodation and Services
There is a wide range of accommodation to be found in Solva. Bed and breakfasts are aplenty, with many sure to include excellent views of the estuary and others of the impressive surrounding countryside. Some have been converted from country houses and several can be found alongside the River Solva. There are several caravan parks, including camping ground, within and around Solva. Many include electric hook ups and are tourist friendly. For a more independent break, Solva has a good selection of holiday cottages to let. These self-catering facilities range from small, stone cottages to comfortable family homes, whilst others are modern and spacious apartments. Whatever suits your budget and your preferences, you shall be sure to find it in Solva.
Pay and Display car parking is available in Lower Solva alongside the river.