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Non-sea cave, Pembroke coast


Well-known member
Other than on the firing range, are their any known non-sea caves along the Penbroke coast? The reason I ask is I found one while wandering through some woods. Its not massive but has a sizeable chamber and it's obviously not a sea cave due to being about 100 foot up a slope in the woods.

The cave in-question is up the hill behind "Lydstep Beach Holiday Village". Can any locals shed any light, or is this an unknown/un-recorded cave?

Les W

Active member
Have a look at the Cambrian Cave Registry
I can't see any where I think you've described, but there are sites marked in that general area



Well-known member
Thanks for that. My cave does not appear to be listed, hmm a new cave then? It was not far from the path through the woods, but not visible from the path and was quite hidden in the trees.


Active member
I had a look in "Caves of West Wales".  There are plenty of caves listed on the coast including the famous Lydstep Caverns,  but nothing inland.  Your description suggests  NGR SS 09 99.  But there is nothing marked on the OL 36 OS map.


Well-known member
It's not necessarily unrecorded, several smaller sites haven't been added to the registry yet & some have incorrect grid refs, but I don't know who is the best person to ask for Pembroke.



Well-known member
Nothing near by that matches the description, everything nearby is a sea cave and look to be in the right positions (I had a look at all of them while I was there) and it's not in West Wales book apparently. So unless someone got the grid ref really wrong...?


Well-known member
It could be unrecorded, but they haven't been through all the club journals for minor sites yet.



Well-known member
Alex said:
Nothing near by that matches the description, everything nearby is a sea cave and look to be in the right positions (I had a look at all of them while I was there) and it's not in West Wales book apparently. So unless someone got the grid ref really wrong...?

Ogof Alex it is, then  :clap:


Well-known member
Seems even well recorded caves in that area haven't made it onto the registry yet:

including 2 marked on this map of the holiday camp (although they are all on the beach):

This one near Proud Giltar also doesn't appear (others within 10km do):

Lydstep Caverns beach is on the registry (names given in 2nd link):

An even earlier photo of the Smuggler's Cave:



Well-known member
Thanks for the info, this cave appears to not be any of those.

I visited one or two of those listed while I was walking around such as the beach (Cave of the sea witch) but it was not a proper caves, barely had a roof on them and only went in a few meters, needed no light. (I personally don't really count a cave if I can still see daylight from inside/don't need a torch). Hence why I did not bother mentioning any of them as they were not proper caves in my view and the larger sea caves, I assumed had already been explored by every tourist and his dog.

The one I found was about 15m long (so far), it could be pushed further in full caving gear and a crow bar. It had a chamber about 4m x 3m and 4m high and this was in total darkness so could not be explored without a light, which I had thought to bring along. The entrance is crawling height  and appears from the outside to go no where unless one was to crawl in and go around the corner. Most amazed to find a 'proper' non-sea cave in an area I thought was devoid of them.

When I can work out how to get my photo's off my new phone I may post a picture of the entrance. My phone's photos of the inside of the cave did not come out well, I wish I had my proper camera with me, I doubt I will be going back any time soon. Bloody long LONG drive.


Active member

LYDSTEP CAVERNS    NGR SS 0875 9763    A 10 to 40 feet    L 250 feet    VR 50 feet   LYDSTEP
Mason describes these caverns in 1880 as only: ?... four miles from Tenby, and can only be visited at low water and the spring tides...  .  After passing the village, you proceed down a lane about 274m towards the sea to Lydstep Lodge, thence along a trackway over the hill, from the summit of which there is seen, in the centre of a romantic and sequestered glen, the 'Guide's cottage', keeping close to which we walk down the bottom of the rocky defile, until, after passing over some fragments of rock, we arrive at the shore.  The view on either hand is grand and beautiful in the extreme, but especially on the right, where a high cliff descends sheer as a wall to the sea, and is seen to great advantage through a natural arch, (see frontispiece) a portion of the nearest cavern ...  It is only at the equinoctial spring-tides, and not always then, that the caverns to the extreme right and left are accessible; the rocks over which the explorer passes are, in the spring, crimson with the young fronds of 'Plocamium coccineum', and other 'Rhodosperms'.  The 'Laminaria' is covered with the pretty little pellucid 'Patella'; and many other shells., scarce at Tenby, are abundant here; the deep, clear, rock pools are miniature museums of animated nature; and the only regret of the gazer into their varied stores is, that he dare not begin to inspect them at his leisure, for the inexorable tide is fast cutting off his retreat.  The cavern farthest to the west is one of the best - the prospect from it is magnificent; looking seawards from which, to the right, is an enormous cliff, rising nearly perpendicular from the shore; to the left the cliffs are precipitous, while the roof of the cavern is curiously perforated; the rocks below high-water mark are covered with seaweed, whose varied hues assist in adding a degree of enchantment to this pre-eminently picturesque and beautiful scene.?

Mason continues, speaking of Lydstep, ? ...  the fine coast scenery between Giltar Point and Skrinkle Bay should only be undertaken in very calm weather, as when it is unsettled heavy seas prevail.  Mr. Gosse says: "once round Giltar, the coast becomes picturesque; the crags were fantastic, the precipices abrupt and sheer, and the shutting in and opening up of the little rocky coves every instant, as we sped along, gave a perpetual interest to the scene, changing it like a moving panorama.  Caverns with funnel openings above were numerous, and there were many others deep, and highly picturesque, one in particular has received a name from its singular appearance; it is a yawning chasm in the face of the cliff, in the centre of which there is a most excellent image of the face of a colossal bear, as if crouching in the cave, with his nose on the water's edge.  The pointed ears, the half-closed eyes, the nose and muzzle are all excellent, almost too good to be true; till on approaching, you discern that every feature is merely some natural crevice, or angle, or rounding of the wet and slimy rocks... .?

?Close to the right of Bear Cave, that is on your right as you look into it, stands a jagged peak in the sea, which is connected with the main natural bridge ...  Beyond this we see a succession of arches, and caves, and flat-roofed rooms, perforating the foot of the cliffs ...  One of these arches is named Rouse Hole ...  The stratification is absolutely perpendicular, we are under Lydstep Head, 130 feet high ...

Today Lydstep Caverns are owned by Lydstep Estate who run a holiday centre with restaurant, snack bars, shop, etc.  An admission / parking charge is made for day visitors, but as the author was refused admission because he drove a van, an alternative free access route is suggested.  Take the footpath which runs down beside Lydstep Post Office to Lydstep Haven and follow the right hand fork to the caves.

Smugglers' Cave consists of three entrances, and includes a karst window or skylight.  It is a large sea cave about 300 feet long with an average passage cross section of 20 feet wide and 30 feet high.  The upper end opens out into a grassy doline in which steps and hand rails were provided.

Keith Jones describes ?The Bay of Caves? as extending from the point east of Shrinkle Haven (SN 0832 9737) to the point just east of Smugglers Cave, a distance of  about 400 yards.  In this stretch, twelve caves of various sizes were investigated while at least a further six in the upper reaches of the cliff face await further investigation.  The caves are described from west to east.

Cave A, SN 0855 9760  In a boulder ruckle about 15 feet above sea level.  Being in the most northerly part of the cove, it has suffered from exposure to the elements.  An entrance 10 feet high and 5 feet wide terminates in an earth choke after 14 feet.

A few yards to the east is Cave B which is located about 10 feet above the sea.  This is another small cave 14 feet long.

Cave C, is almost at sea level and probably floods during stormy conditions.  The entrance is 18 feet high and 10 feet wide, and the passage ends abruptly after just  42 feet.

A very short distance around the corner is the south-east entrance of ?The Droch?, or Cave D.  A large entrance at sea-level 13 feet wide and 30 feet high, leads to a chamber after 42 feet.  There a narrow passage 4 feet wide, and 20 feet long, leads into a huge chamber 30 feet across and well over 25 feet high.  To the left an ascending boulder pile leads to the back of chamber where the cave ends in two choked passages to the left, while a huge aven in the eastern end appears to extend for at least 40 feet.  This main passage is 124 feet long, and the main entrance to ?The Droch? measures 22 feet across and 60 feet high.  Mason constructs a vivid picture which still holds true today:

?Presently we come to the Droch, where a more majestic cavern than any we had yet seen appears.  Upon a beach of yellow sand its immense span is reared, with a secondary entrance.  The arch of uniting stone is thrown across with beautiful lightness, and it appears as if hewn with the mason's chisel.  All the ledges are horizontal like courses of masonry; all the fissures vertical.?

The mouth of ?The Droch? forms a cove, and a little from its mouth on the east side, is another entrance, Cave E.  This is 10 feet high and 5 feet wide, but is 6-9 feet deep and is 12 feet above the beach.  Directly above this small chamber an aven appears to lead up to yet another entrance about 30 feet above the beach.

Around the corner from ?The Droch? is a magnificent arch which is shown in Hall p 441.  To the west of this, and parallel with the most sea-ward part of the arch, is a through cave, which is about 10 feet high and 5 feet wide, and 40 feet long.  This is Cave F.

Around the corner is yet another cove but with no mature caves as yet, while the final cove contains six caves.  During the writer?s visit, this point had to be swum into, even at low tide.

In the western part of this cove, and about 10 feet above the beach, are two short caves, G and H.  Both entrances are 3 feet high and 2 feet wide.  They twist and terminate after just 20 feet.  The passage on the right, forms a short oxbow in the rock face.  The next site along at the same altitude is an alcove, Cave I, this entrance is 8 feet high and 10 feet wide which leads to a chamber only 8 feet deep, but two avens extend up into the cliff for some considerable distance.

A few yards west, at the same altitude, a large entrance is encountered.  This is Cave J and is 18 feet wide and 30 feet high.  It ends after 45 feet in two choked rifts filled with Pleistocene material.

Cave K is on the eastern side of the cove.  The large entrance leads to 35 feet of passage which ends in an earth choke which is still being eroded by the sea.  Numerous crinoid fossils litter the floor of the cave.

This part of the coast certainly lives up to its name, ?The Bay of Caves? as the above shows, do not forget to bring a torch.

Anon 1892  Welsh Pictures drawn with Pen and Pencil.  London.  Religious Tract Soc.  202 pp illus.
BC 14 95-105.
CWM  p 22 refers to Lydstep Haven Cave SS 09/97 NGR only.
Hall p 440-441 illus
Jones, K 1991 The Bay of Caves.  ICC Jl 14 44-52 illus S
Jones, K 1991 The Bay of Caves.  BC 113 1-9 illus S
Gosse p  128  The Droch.
Gwynne  p  88-90.
Leach, A L  1933  Proc  Geol  Assoc  London 44  187-216  Geology and scenery of Tenby and Pembrokeshire.  Coast map.
Leach, A L  mention.
Millo  p 108.
Miles p 141
Oldham and Oldham  1972  Discovering Caves  p  29
Stratford p 141 Smugglers Cave
Timmins p 33
Tourist pp 58 - 61
WL opp p 145 plate; p 145 Lydstep Caverns; Manorbier caves and fissures in the bright red cliffs (to the east).

The Droch

LYDSTEP SINK      NGR SS 087 977 [unchecked NGR?s do not compute]                  LYDSTEP
The sink is in a larch plantation and takes water from the direction of Lydstep village.  Barely ? mile from the sink is the resurgence at beach level, NGR SS 086 976.  Access only possible at low tide.  Site is about 300 yards west of Lydstep Caverns qv.  Above the resurgence is a cave entrance which is 10 feet above the beach.  It leads upwards to a second entrance 40 feet above the beach. 
Mel Davies, Personal communication 22, April 1979



New member
The answer to the question 'are there any non sea caves along the South Pembrokeshire Coast' is not a simple yes or no, but then interesting questions rarely have simple answers.

The limestones along the Pembrokeshire coast contain a lot of paleokarst features which look quite exciting but when you explore them you will find that they end in solid sediment fill or just a blank rock wall. These caves are nothing to do with the modern hydrogeology of the area, it has probably been thousands or even millions of years since they formed a part of an interconnected karst drainage system.

However when they are exposed in a sea cliff wave action will erode away the soild fill leaving a 'sea cave' that will basically go in as far as the furthest waves can reach. There are some really fine examples of this on the coast between Pendine and Morfa Bychan where you can follow a large vadose canyon not dissimilar to the main streamway in OFD which then ends in a solid bank of sediment. Digging these caves is most likely a complete waste of time as they will be totally choked, they are just fossil relics that haven't been active for millions of years. Somewhere between a sea cave and a karst cave.

Although your cave is not currently beside the sea I would hazard a guess that it has been in the past, there are some fine raised beach deposits in the area (some at Broad Haven south I recall) which prove that sea level has been higher in the area in the fairly recent past.

However, the geology of the Lydstep area suggests that there should be some 'proper' caves. The ridgeway to the south is sandstone with steeply dipping limestone on its flanks rather like a smaller version of the mendip anticline. There is a line of stream sinks running roughly along the line of the railway from Pembroke to Tenby, a few years ago I strarted a dig in a seasonal sink on this limestone - sandstone contact. We sank a shaft about 4m into the fill before I left the country for a few years, good draft at the bottom. The depth potential of this system is only about 40m and given the dip of the limestone it is likely that the caves in the area will be small shitty vadose canyons going rapidly to the water table, unless the modern drainage has intercepted some big ancient cavities of course!

There is however almost certainly a large well developed cave system under Marros mountain and the karst extends across the border into Pembrokshire (you drive over it on your way into Pembrokeshire when you go through the village of Llanteg on the A477). Check out the dolines on google maps!

The above is of course my opinion but I am a geologist, I've wasted a lot of time looking for caves and I grew up in Pembrokeshire so get down there fairly frequently (having caves to explore means a trip to see the parents is not wasted  ;))


Well-known member
PM sent Southpemscaver. I will be interested in you taking a look and seeing what you think.


Well-known member
Southpembscaver/Mr Dickon  ;)

On an unrelated topic, Isn't there a cave already in Marros, are you saying there's more to Marros?

There was a video created by the Freem's of SWCC of a cave they called Ogof Marros.



Well-known member
Pictures as promised.

Entrance pic


Inside the cave's main chamber with calcite evident on the back wall. This is looking into the cave.


Lookup up to the ceiling.


Apologies for the blurriness of the underground shots.