On the wild west coast of Wales, the county of Ceredigion is famed for its glorious sandy beaches, dramatic sea cliffs and caves, spectacular sunsets and a wonderful array of wildlife, including the largest colony of bottlenose dolphins in Europe. Away from the sea, rolling farmland, fertile river valleys and characterful market towns give way to the brooding Cambrian Mountains, the main watershed of Wales.
As one of the least populated regions of Wales there is plenty of room to ramble in Ceredigion, and among the walks in this guide are established favourites as well as many lesser-known gems.
96 pages / 105mm x 148mm / step inside the guide
The great curve of Cardigan Bay is a little like a bow held at the moment just before an arrow is loosed. If it were a bow, the bowstring would be around 75km (46 miles) long, stretching from Bardsey Island in the north to the landmark hill at Mwnt. When conditions are right you can stand on that hill and see all the way to Bardsey on the far horizon.Rather than attempting to span the whole bay – which is fringed by the Welsh counties of Gwynedd to the north and Pembrokeshire to the far south – this guide instead covers the beautiful southern portion that falls within Ceredigion. For the purposes of this volume, the northern limit is the estuary of the Dyfi, which has been a frontier of sorts for almost 2000 years and is now the northern boundary of the county. Ceredigion is a relatively new designation which, however, follows the old county borders with an even older name.
In the early 1970s, what was then Cardiganshire became part of a larger administrative area whose name, Dyfed, was borrowed from a Dark Ages kingdom. Modern Dyfed was scrapped in 1996 and the old county was restored, but the council chose to re-invent itself under another ancient name – Ceredigion. The county’s name derives from Ceredig, a 6th-century prince from Lothian who was invited to Wales during a time of great crisis. The kingdom that he created was ruled by his descendants for centuries. Throughout its history, Ceredigion has been something of a battleground and you’ll find plenty of reminders of conflict. Iron Age enclosures top many of the hills and Roman forts are a marker of a time when legionaries marched to the outer edge of their world. There are lots of medieval castles too – some built for Welsh princes, others for Norman invaders. Today, Ceredigion is a county where farming and forestry are major employers. It is the least populated county in Wales after Powys, with about 43 people per sq km (compared to Cardiff, at 4263).
All this means that you will find plenty of space to walk in. The sparsity of population, as well as the variety of habitats, also contributes to its reputation among wildlife-watchers. Most famous for its marine wildlife, Cardigan Bay is one of the best places in Britain to see bottlenose dolphins, including on the New Quay Head walk. A number of species usually confined to warmer waters have also been found here, including Leatherback turtles and Portuguese Man of War jellyfish, while Atlantic grey seals may be spied surfacing near the shoreline or, on the Gwbert and Cwmtydu walks, basking on the rocks. On land, oakwoods are home to pine martens and songbirds, such as the pied flycatcher, and in the uplands you’re almost certain to see red kites gliding in the distance.
Using this guide
This guide contains forty routes in Ceredigion, ranging in length from 1km to 15km. The walks featured here are not intended to test the serious hillwalker, but have instead been selected to be as family-friendly as possible, with some routes suitable for wheelchairs and all-terrain buggies – these are highlighted in the text. The recommended time for each walk is a rough estimate based on an average speed of 4kmph, with an allowance added in for ascent and the type of terrain. Although the Gulf Stream brings warmer temperatures than might be expected at this latitude, it pays to be prepared for some challenging weather – whatever the season. A waterproof jacket and some extra warm layers are always advisable so that you can enjoy these walks in almost any weather. Good walking boots are advisable for all routes. Some routes follow cliff edges, and care should always be taken when accompanied by children near water or cliffs and gorges. Weather warnings should never be ignored, and even in fine weather the sea can be unpredictable. It pays to keep a safe distance from the water and to know your tide times before you set out on any coastal route.
The outline map accompanying each walk is designed to help in planning your trip rather than as a navigational aid: the relevant Ordnance Survey Explorer 1:25,000 map is recommended for most routes.
Six OS Explorer maps will cover all of the routes in this guide, and of these OS Explorer 198 will meet your needs for all of the walks between Cardigan and Aberaeron in the first two chapters, while OS Explorer 213 covers most of the routes in the Aberystwyth and the Rheidol and the North of Aberystwyth chapters. OS Explorer 185, 187 and 199, and OL23 are required for the few routes not covered by the above two maps. Ceredigion is home to a number of established linear routes – the best-known being the Ceredigion Coast Path, and this guidebook cherrypicks some of its highlights. It has now become part of the Wales Coast Path (which it pre-dates), so its waymarking uses the logos of both. Navigation on these waymarked coastal routes is straightforward enough, but a map is still recommended should you wander off-route.
The main towns in this guide can all be accessed by bus, as can most of the villages covered. The excellent Cardi Bach coastal bus between Cardigan and New Quay is a particular gem; it runs each way every day of the week during the summer (from 1st May) and on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from the end of September to the end of April, making it possible to explore the Wales Coast Path on foot while making your return journeys by bus. It stops at villages along its back road route, but is also a ‘hail and ride’ service, so you can get on and off anywhere along the way (as long as it is safe for the bus to stop). The Cardi Bach bus is operated by Brodyr Richards, www.richardsbros.co.uk. Elsewhere bus provision is patchy, as it is in most of rural Britain. Most of these walks can be accessed by bus, but in more out-of-the-way locations services may be available only on one or two days a week. For these reasons, it is best to check timetables when you are planning your day. The Welsh government’s Traveline Cymru service is the definitive source for bus information, either online at www.traveline-cymru.info or over the phone on 0871200 22 33.
Since the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW) around one fifth of Wales has been ‘access land’, which means the public have a right of access on foot. It is mostly open country – moorland, mountains and commons. Ceredigion has large areas of access land, mostly in the uplands of the eastern part of the county. It is clearly marked on OS maps.The county has a very good network of footpaths and other public rights of way. The Wales Coast Path is very well maintained and signposted as are many other routes, especially those that link with the coast path. If you are walking with dogs do keep them on a lead if you are near livestock. Also, take care if you are crossing beaches with a dog between late August and October as there can be seal pups along the foot of cliffs and in caves.
Ceredigion is a stronghold of Cymraeg, the Welsh language. In all of Wales about 20 per cent of the population speak the language, but in Ceredigion that figure rises to 47 per cent.
C is always hard, like the c in cat
Ch is like the ch in a Scottish loch
Dd is like the th in the
F is like v in violin
Ff is like the ff in off
Ll is easy; just place your tongue as though you’re going to say lord and hen blow R is like the r in red, but rolled Rh place your tongue to say the r in red and then blow
Try . . .
Bore da (Boh-reh dah): Good morning
Prynhawn da (Prin-houn dah): Good afternoon Iechyd da (Yeh-kid dah): Cheers Diolch (Dee-olk): Thanks Nos da (Nohs dah): Good night