Freshwater West beachtop
Freshwater West beach is one of Pembrokeshire's most westerly facing beaches and as a result, has a unique and varied eco-system due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream current and mild climate.
Last updated: 04 April 2011
This stunning beach, located in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has long been a favourite amongst British surfers due to the consistent surf, which batters this coastline for much of the year.
The Welsh National Surfing Championships are regularly held here over the first bank holiday weekend in May.
In 1996, the Sea Empress oil tanker ran aground just around the headland at St Anne's Head spilling tonnes of crude oil onto the surrounding beaches and killing thousands of seabirds.
The beach was back to normal within around 5 years and it is now difficult to imagine the extent of the damage which occurred there.
In recent times the beach has become better known for it's involvement with the film industry and in 2009 plays host to two major new films being made there.
The final Harry Potter film - 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' starring Daniel Radcliffe was filmed at the beach and a shell cottage built for one of the elves featured in the film was erected at the north end of the beach.
Hollywood director, Ridley Scott, also filmed scenes here for Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.
The film featured around 600 extras and 200 horses as well as dozens of rowing boats and beach doubled up as the French coast in the movie.
At the back of the beach at the north end are several Bronze Age burial mounds which can be located with a bit of detective work and a good O/S map.
The southern end of the beach towards the main car park hides a petrified prehistoric forest which is often exposed on large, low tides.
The wood has now taken on a darkened, clay like quality and is fascinating to find but only visible on large, low tides.
Seabirds such as oyster catchers, curlew, guillemot and gannet flock here for the rich feeding grounds and otters come down in the early mornings and dusk to feed, following a stream which flows down from nearby marshland into the sea.
You also stand a good chance of spotting grey seals and porpoises here on calm, clear days.
The area is also home to a resident chough population - one of the rarest members of the crow family and they can often be seen, swooping along the cliffs in 'middle bay' or feeding at the back of the sand dunes.