St Govan’s Chapel is a small chapel built into the side of a limestone cliff at St Govan’s Head, on the Pembrokeshire coast, in Wales. Here is a complete guide.
How To Get To St Govan’s Chapel
St Govan’s Chapel is located in the Bosherton area of the Pembrokeshire Coast, near to St Govan’s Head, in Wales.
A popular walk ,that takes in St Govan’s Chapel along the way, is a circular route starting at the National Trust Car Park (SA71 5DN) in Bosherton village.
This car park is open from 7am – 10pm every day. It’s a pay-and-display costing £3 for 3 hours/ £6 for 12 hours.
This is a 5 mile (8.1km) circular walk and takes approximately 3 hours, over moderate terrain.
St Govan’s Chapel is also a highlight stop on the famous Pembrokeshire Coast Path trail.
There are two buses that run from Pembroke to St Govan’s Chapel 387/388. They only run a couple of times a week.
There is a large, free car park on the cliffs above St Govan’s Chapel (SA71 5DR).
To reach the car park, you drive towards Bosherston, along single narrow roads, until you get to the military base entrance. Once at the military base entrance you will see directions that you can follow.
Unfortunately, access to the car park is not always available due to it being in the Ministry of Defence’s Firing Range and you can only visit when it’s open.
You can call ahead to check if it is open to the public on the day you visit. Call the Pembroke Visitor Centre on 01437 776499 or Castlemartin Range on 01646 662367.
Alternatively, check the Castlemartin Firing Range website to see whether it is open.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
St Govan’s Chapel Entrance Fee
Admission to St Govan’s Chapel is free.
St Govan’s Chapel Opening Times
St Govan’s Chapel is open 24 hours a day all year round.
Please be aware that access to the surrounding area is closed if the Ministry of Defence firing range is in use.
You can call ahead to check if it is open to the public on the day you visit.
Call the Pembroke Visitor Centre on 01437 776499 or Castlemartin Range on 01646 662367.
Best Times To Visit St Govan’s Chapel + Tips
I would recommend planning ahead for your visit to St Govan’s Chapel, due to the chance of access to the area being closed.
We visited following our visit to The Blue Lagoon roughly an hour up the coast.
A visit to the chapel is on the list of local tourist attractions, therefore it can get busy at weekends and during the holidays.
The climb down the steps to St Govan’s Chapel can be a bit difficult when the weather is stormy.
The steps can get slippery, so safe footwear is advised. However, there is a handrail for assistance when using the steps.
When the tide goes out you can get down to the beach below and enjoy the stunning views from there.
What To Pack
The History Of St Govan’s Chapel
Dating from the 13th century, this beautiful little Chapel is perched on the side of the limestone cliffs at St Govan’s Head.
Story goes that back in the 5th or 6th century, there lived a saint by the name of St Govan who resided in Pembrokeshire.
One day when St Govan was walking along the south coast of the county, he was seen and pursued by pirates.
As he was running away from the pirates, a cleft opened up in the cliff above him and he was able to tuck inside it and hide.
St Govan stayed in hiding until the pirates sailed away. Then, miraculously, the cleft in the rock opened up once again, but St Govan decided that the safest thing for him to do would be to continue living in the rocky cell.
He survived by eating fresh fish from the ocean and drinking water from a sacred spring that flowed nearby.
He also had a bell that he would ring to warn anyone else in the area whenever the pirates returned.
The pirates were not happy about St Govan’s bell and one day they managed to steal it. However, justice was done to the pirates when a terrible storm blew up and their ship was eventually sunk.
Angels were said to have retrieved the bell and brought it back to St Govan. They encased it in the middle of a huge rock so that it would never be stolen again.
If you go down to St Govan’s chapel today you can still see ‘bell rock’. Legend has it that if you make a wish while standing in the rock cleft it will come true.
What To Expect At St Govan’s Chapel
St Govan’s Chapel is one of the most unusual and uniquely situated chapels you will ever see.
Located down between the cliffs of St Govan’s Head, this picturesque little building is at the bottom of quite a long flight of steps.
Legend has it that if you count the steps down and up again, the number is never the same!
The building itself is tiny, just 20 feet by 12 feet (6m by 3.7m).
It consists of two rooms, with an altar at the east. The walls are made of limestone with open windows and it has a more modern slate roof.
St Govan, who died in 586, is said to be buried under the altar in the chapel which bears his name.
Beyond the chapel you can scramble along the rocks and get some beautiful views of the coastline.
When the tide is out you may even be able to see a small beach located at the bottom.
We visited on a windy day however, so please be careful if you venture down further than St Govan’s Chapel as the footing can be dangerous.
Steeped in history, this unusual little chapel is definitely worth a visit if in the area.
It feels like a magical place and has an air of mystery to it.
St Govan’s Head
The road to access St Govan’s is on the Castlemartin Military firing range. So don’t be alarmed if you hear gunshots during your visit.
From the chapel you can explore further along to St Govan’s Head, and the cliffs that make up the Welsh coastline.
If you do go exploring please be careful of where you’re walking and stick to the track provided. You’ll notice plenty of serious signs posted around the site.
The path from the car park to the old coastguard station has been surfaced and provides a fairly level walk. It runs inland from the cliff edge.
The views along the coast are magnificent. The cliffs here are important for seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes.
The cliffs also provide excellent opportunities for climbing: it is not unusual for heads to suddenly pop up above the cliff edge.
Where To Stay In South Wales
Luxury – Swansea Valley Holiday Cottages
Just 2 miles from Pontardawe, Swansea Valley Holiday Cottages feature family-run, self-catering accommodation on a farm, 10 miles from Gower Peninsula and 8 miles from Brecon Beacons National Park.
Free Wi-Fi and free private parking are provided.
Set in traditional stone buildings, the cottages sit in a 100-acre property offering panoramic views of the Welsh countryside.
They all come with a fully equipped kitchen, an outdoor dining area with BBQ facilities and a living room.
Some cottages also offer a washing machine and tumble dryer. They either have river views or courtyard views. One also has a private garden.
Mid-Budget – Morgans Hotel
In Swansea’s historic Maritime Quarter, Morgans Hotel provides luxurious rooms with free Wi-Fi, 5 minutes’ walk from the city centre.
This grade II listed building also has a relaxed restaurant and a stylish bar.
Equipped with a flat-screen TV and a sleek private bathroom with toiletries, each air-conditioned room also has Egyptian cotton bedding. Rooms in the separate Townhouse all boast elegant hardwood floors and some rooms are air-conditioned.
Guests dine in the boardroom of this former home of the Port Authority. A modern European menu is on offer, whilst Morgans Bar has sofas, cocktails, chilled beers and wines from around the globe.
This property is 10 minutes walk from the beach.
Budget – Neon 160
Neon 160 is set in Swansea, 0.6 miles from Swansea Marina and 1.1 miles from Cathedral Church of St Joseph.
Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
The property is close to popular attractions like Loughor Castle, Gower College Swansea and Swansea Crown Court.
Selected rooms also offer a kitchen with a microwave, a fridge and an oven.
For more places to stay in Wales, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.