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:

“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