LLanrhystud to Aberystwyth 19.7.21

First mistake of the day is driving down to where we started yesterday for our walk back to Llanon. I had not studied the map carefully enough and thought we could just turn right but no there is a river to cross and no bridge over it. Back we go up the minor road, park the car and follow signs for a caravan park, after which we turn off right on to the coast path.

It’s another hot day and we have quite a long walk with no comfort stops so our bags are full of sandwiches and biscuits but most of all water, lots of it.

The climb up on to the cliffs is very very steep and to make matters worse we also manage to get lost in a field (yes – it can happen). We eventually rejoin the path which is now lined with prickly thistles – delightful when you’re wearing shorts.

Some time later the landscape opens up and flattens out and we make good progress, although our stomachs are growling and there is no shade to stop for lunch. I find myself envying the sheep.

Eventually, after what seems like forever, we find a spot with partial shade from some snarled, twisted trees that overhang a sunken grassy lane. Underneath the vegetation are stone walls – it reminds me of a lane I walked along years ago which I later learned was an ancient highway – enchanting.

I peel off my rucksack, and after clearing any stray nettles, we settle down for a welcome rest. I later discover I have no photo of the spot so I’ve used one from a fellow walker who decided to stop in the same place. Hope she doesn’t mind.

A mile later we start to see our destination in the distance.

But before we get to the long curved sweep of the shingle beach we are faced with an extremely steep descent down a narrow, stoney, dirt path with no steps – I’m very glad I have my pole with me.

As I pick my way gingerly down the steep slope I can see a path off to my right which curves around the cliff and looks like we may not have reached the town at all – my heart sinks. Fortunately that is not the case, as there is a stone bridge across the river and a road through the town, leading down to the seafront where we think there may be a few pubs.

We don’t actually make it that far as a side street beckons with cold beer.

This has been a wild walk where we have been pretty much on our own – it’s now unfortunately time to go home to London.

Distance: 11 miles

Llanrhystud to Llanon 18.7.21

A half day walk to day to shorten the long walk to Aberystwyth tomorrow. There is no real road access on the stretch from Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth and it’s too long a walk from Llanon. These kind of logistics are an integral part of coast walking and take time to work out but anyway dear reader I’m sure you don’t really give a damn. We drive to Llanrhystud leaving the car at the top of the track leading down to the coast.

There are quite a lot of people around, most of them from the nearby camping site, and although the beach is mostly shingle, there are stretches of sand.

At the end of the beach the path leads us off left – Damian thinks we can walk the whole way on the beach but after consulting the map I decline.

We walk first on a grassy bank above the beach and then through fields until we reach a track that leads down to a church. On either side of the path are high hedges which means we can’t see the cows who nevertheless hail our arrival with slobbery snuffling and occasional low mooing.

I suddenly realise that we are on the outskirts of Llanon – there are a few pretty cottages and a bridge over a stream where I sit and wait for Damian who never misses an opportunity to talk to a cow.

We then walk up to the high street to catch the bus back to our car. Back in Aberaeron that evening we go on the hunt for food and find a pop up restaurant in a tent close to our Bnb. The food is Asian fusion and tastes absolutely wonderful. We later discover that the chef has worked for Gordon Ramsey in a previous life. Beer is provided by the pub across the road with the sensational window box and hanging baskets. Life is good.

After dinner we take a stroll down to the harbour to watch the sun set, an experience only slightly marred by a message on a lamp post – well I am half Welsh…………………..

Distance: 3 miles

New Quay to Llanon 17.7.21

It is another gorgeous day as we set out in the opposite direction from yesterday to do a walk via Aberaeron to Llanon. It is an easy start past the small leisure boats bobbing up and down in the harbour, along a long stretch of sand/mud where a few families are paddling, children playing with their own small plastic boats.

No-one is swimming and this is probably the reason why………………I know they can’t kill you but they can inflict a nasty sting.

A short while later the path turns right away from the beach and up into a patch of woodland which then joins a minor road.

We come to a junction – a camping site in one direction and back up onto the Ceredigion Coast Path in another. It is easy walking along the top of the cliffs – time to appreciate the crystal clear sea below with its myriad hues of blue and green.

Not so in the water we encounter running down through the next valley. There does not seem to be an obvious culprit, no industrial buildings in sight and when I check the map all I see is an activity centre at the top of the valley. Hmmmmm………….maybe they were having a mega clean up with some sort of disinfectant. Whatever it is it doesn’t look healthy.

A little later we are approaching what looks like a holiday village named Gilfach yr Halen on the map. There are stables at the entrance to the village where a horse stands wearily in the midday sun ……………why is it not inside in the shade?

Down the hill is an outdoor pub/restaurant, a playground and a tennis court. The place is completed deserted so I take the opportunity to sneak into the toilets and douse my cap with cold water – a short lived pleasure.

Further up the hill is a smattering of ugly bungalows which we had the pleasure of witnessing twice as we went the wrong way and had to retrace our steps to get us back onto the cliffs.

From here on the path dips down into two small valleys and soon we are able to see Aberaeron in the distance, our lunch stop. However, we are by now, dangerously close to melting point so before we explore the town we rip off our clothes apart from the boots and trudge over the pebbly beach into the cold water. Bliss…………………..

Boots now soaking wet we leave them in the car and change to trainers for the rest of the walk. I think I have been telling myself for at least two years that I need summer walking boots but I’m very attached to my old leather ones and anyway what if I should suddenly have to cross a muddy field?

Aberaeron is a pretty old fashioned town with no sandy beach. This is probably why it is not swamped with tourists like New Quay and still manages to retain its Welsh character.

I visited the town before when I was 15 or so – my best friend and I came to stay here in her auntie’s caravan. As we leave the town we walk past a caravan site – maybe it was here? I cannot remember a thing……………….

Onwards we go, now bouncing merrily along in our trainers, past the groynes, on a path running parallel to the shingle beach.

It doesn’t take long before we reach Aberath where the path runs up into the village.

Here we have a few minutes of indecision before plumping for a narrow street running down past a row of cottages overlooking the river.

Back on the cliff path again we make good progress until we catch up with a flock of bewildered sheep that have escaped from their field somehow and now too scared of us to turn back. The path is too narrow – there is nowhere for them to go.

Finally the path opens up and they scamper off to the right …………………………

The landscape now changes and opens up into a wide flat valley – we can see Llanon in the distance. After losing our way for a while where we can be seen contemplating crawling through a small hole in a fence, we cross a small wooden bridge and find a straight narrow path running parallel to the shingle beach. This brings us into the village.

I have no photos of this last part of the walk as we are both too hot and tired to take them. Let’s just say that the uphill slog to the pub was trying but the pint of Carling divine.

Distance: 12 miles

New Quay to Cwmtydu 16.7.21

New Quay is a busy little town and full of tourists. As there is zero parking we leave the car in a carpark up the hill and walk down to the seafront for coffee. It is going to be a short walk today as we need a bit of a rest.

Setting off west towards Cwmtydu we think we find the coastal path up on the cliffs but find ourselves coming to a stop just above New Quay’s seafood processing plant which has been in trouble over the years due to the number of shells it deposits on the town’s beaches. Whelk shells are apparently sharp and are not only a nuisance for soft bare feet but also interfere with boat engines. Two thousand tonnes of shells deposited per year is rather a lot……………………

After a bit of a meander we find the path again and continue up along the cliffs. From here on the walk is beautiful with wonderful views. At one point the path branches off down some steps to a lookout station which we’re told is a good place for dolphin spotting. Inside there is a bench and posters of sea birds and other wild life – we stop for 5 minutes but see no dolphins.

The halfway mark for our walk is the nature reserve Craig yr Adar where we stop for a drink and a rest.

We are then treated to short stretches of cool shade – a little respite from the blazing sun.

…………and soon we find ourselves on the steep, narrow path leading down to the beach at Cwmtydu.

It is a stony beach but we are so hot and sweaty that we take a dip – boots and all.

Distance: 3 miles

Cwmtydu to Aberporth 15.7.21

The small cove of Cwmtydu is accessed by a minor road which winds down through dense woodland. Our taxi drops us in the “high street” and we are lucky enough to find an open cafe run by a gruff but benign Welshman serving coffee, tea and Welsh cakes. He entertains us with stories of people that have come to grief on the precipitous cliff path – lifted off by a helicopters from Llanelli (on the south coast of Wales).

I visit the public toilets which are immaculate while Damian investigates the container accommodation pods mostly used by kayakers.

Following the signs for the Welsh coast path we walk behind the toilets and up into woodland. Llangrannog is probably a good place to stop for lunch.

Coming out of the lovely forest walk we’re back onto the cliffs onto a wide grassy path.

This does not last long however and soon the path narrows, winding up and down and around the small inlets. At one point we walk past a dry ski slope which is named on the map as the Urdd Centre – all sorts of activities are on offer for groups of young people and families. The website makes it look very exciting and what a location.

We are now nearing Llangrannog – you can just about see the narrow path winding around the headland and after a steep descent we are back to civilisation.

It is always a bit of a shock to arrive on a busy beach after hours of silence and isolation – we wonder if we should stop for lunch but decide to carry on and find a quieter spot.

We walk across the beach resisting the urge to wrench off hot heavy leather boots and find ourselves up on the cliff in the company of St. Crannog, a sixth century saint who stands and watches over the village. This bronze sculpture is the work of Sebastian Boyesen who may be Scandinavian with a name like that but he is based in Wales and known for a number of site specific sculptures all over the country. The link below is for his website.

https://www.boyesen.co.uk/the-guardian

A couple of miles on we are getting near to Penbryn Beach but before we get there we experience a spot of drama. The farmer has just been here to give the calf some milk and also drive off the white cow which seems to be preventing the mother from getting near her calf.

We do our best to help but later discover that the mother is actually experiencing some sort of post natal indifference and the white one is a concerned aunty.

Oh well – it reminds me of a time in Scotland when Damian and I came across a cow lying on its side on a hard pebble beach making futile attempts to get on her feet – we thought she needed righting. After several attempts with a rope and sticks we decided to go and inform the local farmer…………….he was completely disinterested.

Penbryn has toilets, a car park and a cafe called the Plwmp Tart – I did wonder why Damian decided to take a photo of me at this point!

From here we follow a path up on the cliffs running parallel to Penbryn Beach – a mile long stretch of golden sand.

Until we reach Tresaith – a sweet little beach where we stop for an ice cream to fortify us for the last haul into Aberporth.

The landscape from here on is covered with caravan sites and holiday cottages – some of which have been fashioned from old railway carriages – a great idea.

And eventually we reach Aberporth, the tide is out so we pick our way over the damp sand, hopping over rivulets that criss cross the beach to reach the car.

My feet are hurting and I need a cold shower but this has been a lovely walk.

Distance: 11 miles

Aberporth to Cardigan 14.7.21

The friendly dolphin marks the start of our walk today, around the beach at Aberporth and up on to a very steep minor road which leads to the military base just outside the town.

A little research reveals that MOD Aberporth is used for the testing of air launched weapons and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). We will be hearing from them later in the day.

There is a blue sky above us and the temperature is rising. It is with relief that we find the right turn that takes us down a dusty track and into a patch of woodland.

Soon we reach the coast at Traeth (beach in Welsh) Gwyrddon and turn left along the cliffs. The path now plunges up and down into small steep valleys with the inevitable haul up the other side. It is very hot – this is the beginning of a five day heatwave which will make the following days walking a little difficult. At one point I stop to catch my breath and take a photo of this strange grassy pyramid in the distance.

On we go along the narrow path, lost in our own thoughts when suddenly a high pitched whine followed by a loud boom makes us look up to see a sleek bullet-shaped projectile thundering across the sky in the direction of Ireland. We stand in shock for a minute or two until the air around me stops reverberating. What on earth was that? The direction it came from is of course the Ministry of Defence at Aberporth and that must have been some sort of weapon testing event.

We are now getting closer to the grassy mound which turns out to be a steep conical hill marked on the map as Foel y Mynt. At the foot of the hill is a pretty white church, built in the 14th century as a place of rest for sailors. It would be a lovely cool place for us to shelter from the scorching heat but it is unfortunately locked.

On the other side of the hill (no we didn’t have the energy to climb it) is a beautiful little beach – people are swimming and sitting enjoying the sunshine. It looks so tempting but we have some miles to cover still (when I write this I’m thinking we could of course stopped for a dip but neither of us had a towel or bathers – damp underwear and sand in your boots is not ideal)

Up onto the cliffs again we walk with the occasional peer down onto the rocks to see if we can catch sight of dolphins – no luck. A little later we meet a woman walking the other way who tells us that she has just been on a dolphin trip and that they came right up close to the boat to play. One day………………just like the puffins………we’ll come back next year.

The coast path now branches off inland due to the objections of a local landowner who runs a tourist attraction on the spit of land facing Cardigan Island. Cardigan Island Farm Park offers farm animals experiences and trailer rides to enjoy the sea views and wildlife. The owner’s objection is that if walkers were allowed to follow the coastline across his land it would undermine his business because they then could enjoy the views for free – maybe but we have not exactly encountered hundreds of ramblers on this stretch. The dispute continues.

Meanwhile we walk through fields of bright yellow daisies…………..

………….until we reach a tarmac path bizarrely named Coronation Drive which follows the estuary for a little while heading up to Cardigan. There are wonderful views over Poppit Sands.

We still have a way to go now, following the river, through patches of woodland and open fields, through a boat building site, past a sewerage works …………………………….

…………and finally to Cardigan Castle. I notice the quay has been rebuilt and smartened up using money from the EU – wonder what we’ll do now?

We lay our bags down and relish the taste of a cold lager in the pub overlooking the river. It has been a hot but lovely day.

Distance: 11 miles

Ceibwr Bay to Cardigan 13.7.21

We are dropped off at Ceibwr Bay again and start walking north this time. There are a few walkers about but they all seem to be going the other way (what do they know)? The sky is overcast and it’s a bit muggy.

Down on the pebbly beach a few people are walking slowly along the shoreline, heads down -perhaps looking for something I know not what.

From here we can see the path following the edge of the cliff and then a sharp steep right up to the top.

After a while we arrive at a spot marked Pwllygranant on the map where large slabs of stone form a bridge to take us over a pretty stream.

From the banks of the stream, flights of swallows soar and dive – it is an amazing sight – impossible to photograph as they fly so quickly. It puts me in mind of Nomadland, a film I saw recently in Copenhagen, where one of the travellers, an elderly woman with a cancer diagnosis uses the time she has left to revisit a swallow haunt on the banks of a river in Colorado.

This is what she says:

“I’m gonna be 75 this year. I think I’ve lived a pretty good life. I’ve seen some really neat things kayaking all of those places. And… You know, like a moose in the wild. A moose family on the river in Idaho and big white pelicans landed just six feet over my kayak on a lake in Colorado. Or… Come around a bend, was a cliff and find hundreds and hundreds of swallow nests on the wall of the cliff. And the swallows flying all around and reflecting in the water. So it looks like I’m flying with the swallows and they’re under me, and over me, and all around me. And little babies are hatching out, and eggshells are falling out of the nest, landing on the water and floating on the water. These little white shells. That was like, it’s just so awesome. I felt like I’ve done enough. My life was complete. If I died right then, at that moment, would be perfectly fine”

From here we head for the first real headland called Pen Yr Afr. Below us the sheer cliffs twist down in to small rocky coves – I keep well away from the edge.

Further along we reach Cemaes Head which is the most northerly point of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The path will soon morph into the Ceredigion Way – that is for tomorrow.

The path now moves away from the cliffs and flattens out which is good as we are both getting a bit tired .

…………and then we get our first glimpse of Poppit Sands, a favourite location for a caravan holiday in the Richards family.

…..but before we get any nearer we are led through a chaotic farmyard full of rusting machinery, wrecked cars and horse boxes. A couple of men with wild hair are hanging around the house- they do not look up as we pass.

…..and down the road a goat shares its pond and pastures with an ancient caravan.

The path now turns into a narrow road which seems to go and on forever. We catch occasional glimpses of the sands below.

Eventually the road opens up to a row of cottages where I am later told is a stone which marks the end of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. The marker is not far from this maiden but we must have been so tired and thirsty that we missed it!

From here the map shows nothing but road walking and it is now getting very hot. We plod slowly up the side of the estuary, ignoring the Webley Hotel where people are sitting at tables in the sunshine drinking cold lager.

it does get better however when we reach St. Dogmaels where the path takes us down behind the road into welcome green shade.

…….and a little later through some playing fields (and another pub)! down to the quay at Cardigan.

Just before we reach the bridge over the river Teifi to Cardigan Castle I spot a Hancocks brewery sign that I have not seen since my childhood. They are now part of the Brains beer empire and when I looked up the Castle Inn I found this interesting snippet:

1905
“Food and Drugs Act. Deputy Chief Constable Williams charged Griffith James, landlord of the Castle Inn, Bridgend, with selling adulterated gin to the extent of 11 1/4 per cent, of water. Defendant pleaded guilty and stated that his wife had inadvertently added water to what had been already reduced. Fined 10s. and 7s. 6d. costs, together with analyst’s fee of 10s. 6d” CN 9 June 1905

Inadvertently??!! Mon oeil…………….

So……..over the bridge we go where we decide to stop and partake of whatever is on offer in the pub overlooking the quay.

Distance: 8 miles

Ceibwr Bay to Newport (Pembrokeshire) 12.7.21

The sky is overcast when we are dropped off at Cweibr Bay and turn our faces southwards towards Newport – but it is warm. We have chosen a short walk today because Damian’s knee has been playing up and we are both nervous about setting off on a walk that he may not be able to complete – and what do we do then? Nightmare scenarios of helicopter rescue come to mind as there is no road access between here and our destination – I cross my fingers and pray. We walk very slowly up the path, hoping that once we settle into the rhythm of walking the knee may loosen up. Of course he won’t take the Ibuprofen I offer and continues to limp and moan for the next mile. Finally, he capitulates and 30 mins later the pain has eased and i can breathe again.

……..and the appearance of this herd of pretty Welsh ponies cheers us up.

At one point in the walk the path becomes extremely overgrown – I have to push my way through ferns and brambles just hoping I don’t tread on an adder or twist my ankle in a hole I cannot see.

………………….but a little while later we meet a couple of walkers who tells us that there is a man with a strimmer ahead, clearing the path for us. And round a corner we meet him taking a break from what looks like very hard work.

Yet again I find myself thinking how wonderful it is that there are people employed to keep these national trails open and welcoming. Likewise, in the next dip, are a row of stepping stones, to keep our feet from sinking in a patch of boggy ground.

By now a sea mist has crept up behind us, somewhat obscuring the views of the cliffs and caves below.

We decide to stop for lunch – here is Damian à l’aise…………………..

Refreshed we continue down the path, we can almost see Newport Sands in the distance.

and closer……….

Closer still Damian discovers a way down on to the beach which I am initially reluctant to try but with a little bit of persuasion and careful scrambling – I’m down!

There are a few people walking along the beach, investigating the dark caves in the chalky cliffs.

……….and Damian busies himself with a message in the sand.

Across the estuary is Newport Sands where we finished our last walk. This time we’re walking along the other side of the estuary to the bridge where we can cross and walk up to the village of Newport.

Not a lot of Welsh accents in Newport and every house has been renovated and smartened up by “newcomers” who must have shares in Farrow and Ball. This has happened all over Wales but Plaid Cymru no longer burn houses down thank goodness. Talking to the taxi drivers it seems there are mixed feelings about the English invasion as they do bring money into the area but at the same time make it impossible for local grown Welsh people to buy any property. Same thing happens in Cornwall.

Anyway, this has been a lovely walk which we celebrate in the usual manner.

Distance: 8 miles