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At a point 92km (57 miles) west of Swansea and 156km (97 miles) west of Cardiff, the ancient borough of Pembroke is the most English town in South Wales. It was never really a typical Welsh town because the Normans and the English had such a strong hold on it. It was settled by English and Flemish people, and its first language was always English. It is visited for two reasons today -- to see Pembroke Castle, one of the most impressive in South Wales, and to use it as a base for exploring the national park.

Pembroke received its charter about 1090 from King Henry I and was built around Pembroke Castle, a great fortress set on a rocky spur above the town. The town walls formed the castle's outer ward, and the entire complex, a 22km-wide (14-mile) medieval defense system, can still be viewed as a fortified town, with the castle as its hub.

Most trains coming to Pembroke require transfers in Swansea, an hour's travel away. From Swansea, there are six trains per day, and from Swansea, trains fan out to many other points within Britain. For railway information, call tel. 0870/900-0773 or visit www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk (also tel. 0845/748-4950; www.nationalrail.co.uk).

Bus connections into Pembroke from Tenby run about every hour throughout the day Monday through Saturday, with limited service on Sunday. For bus information about service from Wales into Pembroke, call tel. 0870/608-2608 or visit www.firstgroup.com. For information about long-distance bus transit from London or big cities of the English Midlands, call National Express at tel. 0870/580-8080 or visit www.nationalexpress.com.

Pembroke maintains a tourist information office -- Pembroke Visitor Centre, Commons Road (tel. 01646/622388; www.touristnetuk.com) -- that's open between Easter and October daily from 10am to 5pm (until 5:30pm July to August). The rest of the year, people should contact the year-round Tourist Information Centre, 19 Old Bridge, Haverfordwest (tel. 01437/763110). Between November and Easter, it's open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. From Easter to October, it's open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm (June-Sept until 5:30pm). Mid-July to August, it's also open on Sunday from 10am to 4pm.