North Pembrokeshire’s Blue Lagoon is a man-made beauty-spot where a disused coastal quarry has been turned into a sheltered amphitheatre set with a shining sapphire of clear seawater.
A gem of a place, it was formed by local fishermen who blasted a narrow passage through the seaward side of the old quarry to form a sheltered haven for their boats.
For years it has been a special place to visit simply to admire, but now it has become an international arena for the modern sport of cliff diving.
So successful was the last visit by high divers competing in the Red Bull Cliff Divers’ World Series, that The Blue Lagoon has now been included in the world-wide circuit of ideal locations for this spectacular and exciting sporting spectacle.
Daring cliff divers from all over the world compete for the championship title in eight competitions held in different parts of the world between May and October.
The 2013 locations were May: La Rochelle, June: Copenhagen and the Azores, July: Malcesine in Italy, August: Boston, Massachussets, September 14th: Abereiddi, September 28th: Brazil and October 26th: Thailand.
The competition also includes coasteering events for children, adults, families and corporate parties, coasteering having been a popular sport around the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast for many years.
The event has rocketed this once quiet little beauty spot to international fame since it was discovered as a picturesque amphitheatre ideal for this adventurous sport last year.
Abereiddi is a stretch of dark grey slate and shingle beach on the north-western coast of Pembrokeshire, and the quarry which formed the Blue Lagoon produced slate which was transported via a tramway to nearby Porthgain for export around the Bristol Channel and to the South of England.
This prospered from 1850 to 1904, but the slate is really friable and not really suited for roofing, so railway distribution of rather better quality slate from North Wales killed the trade locally. That was when the local fishermen decided to turn the quarry into a sheltered circular harbour for their boats and the deep blue of the water, encircled by sheer grey cliffs, became a visual attraction and a must-see for tourists.
On the headland at Trwyncastell (Castle Nose) is a white painted sugar-loaf tower structure which acted as a beacon-navigation mark, for the entrance to the harbour is difficult to spot from the sea, especially in murky weather.
Apart from a few lobstermen, the fishing trade has almost disappeared and the bay and the lagoon had become more a haunt of artistes, photographers, bird watchers, divers, geologists and those interested in pre-history. There are the remains of two Iron Age clifftop forts and an interesting blowhole to the south-west.
To the north is reputedly a cove from which St Barre (Finbar) sailed to IreIand to found Gouganebarra and the city of Cork, from where Columba, after a quarrel with Finbar, is said to have sailed in penitence to Iona