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Barafundle: The price of tourism

Rachael Garside Rachael Garside | 11:52 UK time, Monday, 27 February 2012

It used to be the best kept secret beach in Wales, but after visiting Barafundle at the weekend, it seems that the secret is out.

Some years ago, the Welsh Tourist Board used a picture of Barafundle with its deserted golden sands, sweeping coastline and sparkling blue sea as part of its campaign to lure visitors to Wales.

I can remember seeing a poster greeting arriving passengers at Cardiff Wales Airport showing Barafundle in all its glory.

But there was no mention of where this idyllic beach was, which somehow added to the allure.

And then if you did happen to discover its identity, it was quite an adventure trying to find the place, with a conspicuous absence of any road signs to get you there.

I also remember interviewing someone quite high up in the Wales Tourist Board or 'Bwrdd Croeso' as it was also known and them admitting (off camera) that there was an inherent dilemma in trying to promote Wales.

Barafundle beach.

Barafundle beach from the steps looking down.

You have to carefully balance the fact that places like Barafundle (and much of the Welsh countryside), are beautiful and enticing because there aren't too many visitors trampling up and down the mountains, beaches or moorlands.

Then again, you can't have it all ways and a thriving tourist economy is after all, essential to rural Wales.

But back to Barafundle, the National Trust now own much of the Castlemartin coastline, including the car park at Stackpole Quay from where the path meanders up some steep steps, across a couple of fields to the stone wall above the beach.

That's where you get your first glimpse of Barafundle and it's still a stunning spot. The children ran wild across the sand, writing their names on it with pieces of driftwood then running back up the steps to see their artwork from above.

We couldn't resist also proudly writing the score from the weekend's rugby match on the sand!

This stretch of coastline is a haven for ravens and the much rarer choughs (of which there are only around 500 breeding pairs in the whole of the UK) and it's because of the choughs that the area has SPA status (Special Protection Area).

During breeding season, painted red stones mark areas near the cliff edge where walkers mustn't tread, in case they disturb the nests.

There was a steady stream of walkers and families out for the afternoon roaming across the beach, enjoying a rare bit of sunshine.

A pile of rubbish at the bottom of Barafundle in Pembrokeshire.

A pile of rubbish at the bottom of Barafundle in Pembrokeshire.

But it was sad to see a big pile of rubbish at the bottom of the steps, the first thing people saw arriving at the beach. As we left, a man walked past with a small rucksack on his back, the rest of his family already heading back up the steps.

As he passed us, he dropped a plastic bag, bulging with rubbish including glass bottles on the sand, before greeting us with a cheerful 'afternoon' and heading home without a care in the world. I found this genuinely shocking.

What kind of person thinks this is a perfectly okay thing to do? And who exactly did he think would be by later to collect his rubbish?

Maybe I've reached a 'certain age' when I start ranting about litter louts, but it's just wrong on so many levels and definitely not something you could put on a poster promoting tourism.


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