Ceredigion Coastal Path
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As written by Muddy Mam:
One of the most rewarding aspects of committing to year of Welsh adventure is that I am undertaking trips that I wouldn't normally consider. I had some annual leave to take and had the backing of my other half to do the school drop offs and pick ups for 4 days. Normally my eye would have been drawn to the wall map to see where I could fly to take part in something active, however I looked at what I could do a little closer to home.
After some googling, I discovered that you can walk the Ceredigion coastal path in four days, and it was only a few hours drive away. Perfect! No airport parking, no airline delays - just an evening of planning/booking and a car drive via Taff's Well to pick up my long suffering walking partner, Fran and away we went.
Day 1 - Aberystwyth to Llanrhystud - 17km / 5 hours
We drove to Cardigan and parked at Tesco, which is on the edge of town and has no parking restrictions. The bus stop is opposite to the store, plus it was handy to buy some last minute provisions and have a loo stop before getting on the bus! The T5 runs hourly to Aberystwyth (£5.80 one way) and stops at all the towns that we will be walking through for the next four days.
The route officially starts at Ynyslas, however this would have added an extra day to our trip, so we decided to start from where the bus dropped us off in Aberystwyth. It's a case of finding your way to the front, take the obligatory 'start of walk' photo and then follow the signs for the next few days!
It's not often I go walking for four days and NOT take a map, but there really is no need. Instead I took the very detailed The Ceredigion and Snowdonia Coast Path guidebook (by Cicerone) which was very handy as there were some dubious coastal path signage (on the first two days), plus it provided us with useful information on where we were walking.
There are a couple of nonsensical diversions (probably due to access disputes) that were amusing (would have been less so in bad weather) and the route was quiet too, only one other walker all day! The route is made tougher as you are walking off-camber most of the time - so boots with good ankle support is definitely a bonus here.
There is a short diversion to Pinderi Cliffs (nature reserve) with its stunted oak woodland and wildflowers, it was a bit early in the year to see it in full splendor but it would be lovely in the summer time.
Continuing along the coastal path there are two large caravan parks that can only be described as a blott on the landscape, the second being right before you turn off the path into Llanrhystud for our night's stay at Morfa Farm Bunkhouse surely the most luxurious bunkhouse in Wales!
The bunkhouse is a recently converted cow shed (we were their first paying customers!) that is immaculate and finished to a standard that makes my house look like the cow shed, it even has a large flat screen TV and sofa area and you can purchase fresh free range eggs from the owners. All this for £24 a night (+ £3 for bedding and towels if you don't want to bring them with you).
The local Costcutter across the road is open until 9.30pm or you can head to the Black Lion Inn (like we did) for dinner.
Day 2 - Llanrhystud to New Quay - 21km / 7 hours
This is an easygoing day as far as walking goes - the directions are straightforward, no silly diversions, it's a lot more coastal path feeling and you finally get to walk along a sandy beach at the end of the day
At the start of the day, the guidebook describes a diversion around the Afon Cledon - which we did - when we got to the 'river crossing' we found it to be a small step over a trickle!
No multi day adventure in the UK is complete without a cow encounter, we needed to cross a field with a large herd of young cows. They were curious, we were nervous - which resulted in a fast walk/run and a commando roll under an electric fence and a detour around some fields. I am sure sticking to the route and going past them would have been fine, but with the statistic of 74 people dying from cows in the UK in the past 15 years - better safe than sorry (way more people are killed by cows than dogs!!).
Throughout the day we spotted plenty of red kites and a few seals - as well as a Hercules plane. A constant amusement was the kissing gates, some so small we struggled to get through them with our daysacks on - less biscuit eating for us!
Aberaeron is a natural stop for lunch - it's a lovely picturesque town, where you could easily potter around for half a day (if you're not like us with achey feet and wearing two day old clothes!). The post-lunch walk becomes increasingly scenic and there is a lovely rest stop by the Afon Drwyl waterfall, for us it was a warm spot out of the breeze.
It was hard to get going again after our leisurely break by the waterfall, however we were time pressured as we wanted to beat the high tide. If you get the timing right you can end the walk along the long sandy beach to New Quay, we only just made it as the tide was coming in fast - however it was a lovely end to the day.
The accommodation we chose (well, it chose us as it was the only twin room left!) was the Black Lion. It was £100 a night, so not cheap, but the view from the room was fabulous and the staff were very accommodating, they even allowed us to have our breakfast as our evening meal ? and still allowed us to have eggs, toast, cereal and tea in the morning!
Day 3 - New Quay to Felinwynt - 25km / 8.5 hours
Personally, I felt this was the most picturesque day - and if you could only spend one day hiking the Ceredigion coastal path then I would recommend this leg - there is wildlife galore, beaches, little cafes and increasingly breathtaking scenery.
Within minutes of walking from New Quay you can take the 'cliff option' to look at Birds Rock. It's not as scary as it sounds, it doesn't feel exposed and it's a wonderful place to bird watch. We were there about 10 minutes and spotted half a dozen varieties. If you carried binoculars then this is the place to use them.
The walk continues to Llangrannog, hugging the coast with a short inland diversion towards the Urdd Centre. Llangrannog has several places to eat and on a fine day has a small lovely beach where you could have a pre-lunch dip (call me a wimp, but not in March!)
I was really looking forward to the next section as it was to go via Tresaith , one of my favourite beaches, and it didn't disappoint. The storms over the winter have made the beach stonier, however the village is super picturesque, and I am sure the golden beach will be back for our next visit in the summer.
Once back on the cliff top the all accessible path leads to Aberporth past converted railway carriages, the town is a more rundown version of Aberaeron but still charming (and with proper sandy beaches too).
The final part of our journey was to the Piggery Poke bunkhouse, several kilometres away. This was the only part of the whole four days where a map really would be useful - we ended up wandering around a neighbouring farm thinking that we had arrived, when we knocked on the farmhouse and spoke to the owner she said she often had people knocking asking for the bunkhouse! She pointed us in the right direction and we arrived at Piggery Poke just after sunset. We were greeted by our friend Susie and Hattie (the dog) with homecooked fish pie and apple crumble - lovely stuff
Day 4 - Felinwynt to Cardigan - 15km / 4 hours
My fourth and final peaceful, childfree morning was greeted with rain. In fairness, we were lucky with the weather thus far, it was just a shame to end with rain especially as we were going to go past the wonderful Mwnt beach and its tiny chapel. This is another place where if the weather and temperature were more forgiving then a leisurely stop and dip would be ideal, however the driving rain put paid to that. Mwnt is still beautiful whatever the weather, and is one of West Wales' best kept secrets.
Once past Mwnt, you go past the obvious access-disputed diversion which takes you inland, and then a road/pavement slog back to Cardigan. To be fair, it's probably quite pleasant in the sunshine, as the Teifi Estuary is lovely, but by this stage we were pretty wind/rain swept so marched back to the car (and a cup of hot chocolate at Tesco).
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