As far as holidays go, you are spoilt for choice. From sweeping golden beaches to a sunken city myth to rival Atlantis. From dolphin watching to steam trains through a mountain and a Land Rover discovery safari. Amazingly – you can do ALL of these things in West Wales – Ceredigion to be precise! Ceredigion covers the bulk of the west coast of Wales as you look at the map. The area is from Aberdyfi to Cardigan and boasts 50 miles of the most spectacular coast line in the UK. Considered to be the centre of Welsh Culture and still mainly rural, a coastal path runs from top to bottom allowing back packers or day trippers to safely navigate the sometimes rugged coastline.
Lets just get straight in and tell you about this amazing county!
Aberdyfi, also known as Aberdovey, is one of the most northern locations on the West Wales coast of Ceredigion. Now a beautiful and charming village on the north side of the estuary on the River Dovey it was once sparse. With early mentions of boats docking here with nothing but 3 houses, it has now expanded a lot to include bars, restaurants and miles of beaches in its own micro-climate.
Offering free water refills from participating stations it is trying to do its bit to cut plastic pollution. Activities include The Dovey Yacht club, Bowling Club and is an organiser of Welsh Cycling events, you will fall in love with this charming village.
7 miles north of Aberystwyth is a village and seaside resort called Borth. A seaside resort with a magical difference. At low tide, a submerged forest becomes visible. Preserved by the acid in the peat, stumps of oak, pine, birch, willow and hazel can be seen. These have been carbon dated back to 1500 BC and may be connected with the myth of Cantre’r Gwaelod!
Borth is an old fishing village and along with Ynyslas, claim to have the longest and most golden beach stretching to meet the Dyfi National Nature Reserve.
Wrapped in myth and legend, this is Wales’s version of the lost city of Atlantis! It is possibly one of the best known of the Welsh Legends. Legend tells of a rich and fertile lowland. 16 cities governed by Gwyddno Garanhir and a palace, Caer Wyddno, close to Aberystwyth. The land stretched across the expanse of the Cardigan bay sea.
The cities lay lower than sea level but were protected by mighty sea walls. A guardian was responsible for ensuring the sea gates were shut every night. One night, the guardian had a little too much to drink and when, at a feast with the king, he forgot to return and close the gates. That night there was a storm and the high spring tides broke through and flooded the area.
Locally to the Ceredigion region in West Wales you will find links to these lost cities all over, from a petrified forest in Ynyslas where strong tides wash away the sand and mysterious bells from under the waves. At Borth, a sculpture has carved tales of the scene on a giant slab of slate!
From the amazing views and beacon on top of Constitution hill, which you can access by taking the Electric Cliff Railway, to the 13th century castle ruins. This university town has a whole hosts of independent shops showcasing local artists and enterprises to the high street named brands we all recognise.
The promenade is 2000 meters long and is full of joggers, walkers and people wanting to relax. Some food and drink stalls line the way where you can pick up a snack. We had a fish and chip lunch with a seagull when we visited! We recommend you check out Constitution Hill at the northern end of the Prom. It has a lovely cliff railway (opened in 1896) to save the legs from climbing up – always a bonus! And at the top you will find a camera obscurer and views covering 1000 square miles. Attractions such as a kids play area, gift shop and café are available at the top.
The castle ruins now house a park and play area. Construction began in 1277. In 1404 the castle fell to Owain Glyndwr and was occupied until it was recaptured by cannon in 1408. In 1649, it was at the wrong end of an order to have it blown up. Today the remains are the inner and middle walls which would have had an outer wall.
Rheidol Valley Steam Train
A narrow gauge railway from Aberystwyth to Devils Bridge. 11 ¾ miles of the stunning Welsh valleys rising around sharp corners and steep gradients. From here you can access the Devil’s Bridge falls. It was built in 1902 to provide a link between lead mines and the Aberystwyth harbour. From the train you can visit the Devils Bridge Falls.
Devils Bridge Falls
The Devils Bridge falls are a world famous attraction at the heart of the Cambrian mountains. Even William Wordsworth visited here and wrote about “The torrent at Devil’s Bridge”. There are two different walks available as well as a tea room and gift shop.
If you and your family like caves and mystery then you could also visit the Silver Mountain experience! Located in the western Cambrian mountains of Mid Wales approximately 11 miles from Aberystwyth on the A44, the Silver Mountain Experience was originally a silver-rich lead ore mine. By 1973 the Mine was derelict.
Now the attraction has been opened following careful restoration work. There is the original old mine “count house”, other buildings connected with the ore dressing process, plus many ancient photographs, tools, equipment and mining documents from the industry displayed in the museum.
Above ground are collections of mining machinery and working water wheels which were actually made in local foundries which closed long ago. (10% off if you book tickets on line!)
Land Rover Safari
Not enough adventure yet? How about a Land Rover Safari? With several tours and prices varying from £20pp for a 2 hour adventure to £150+ for 1-3 people on a half day tour, you can discover Devils Bridge, Hinterland, The Elan Valley and the silver lead mines in a Land Rover enabling you to get to places other tours cant reach!
A Georgian fishing port town turned picturesque focal point for the rural community. Aberaeron is a great location to use as a base in order to reach a multitude of locations. Whether you are staying in a hotel, guest house or self catering cottage or campsite, you will be met in a friendly town with a variety of excellent restaurants.
Full of elegantly painted town houses, you can stroll along Quay Parade where the harbour is or take a boat out to explore Cardigan bay and the coast.
A national trust property, is home to an elegant Georgian Villa in the Aeron Valley. Self sufficient with a farm, walled garden and lake, the property has lots to offer. From Butter making sessions to Nordic walking and wild bat walks, there is something here for everyone to enjoy!
Oh New Quay! This place will blow your mind. We stayed on a caravan site here for a week and used it as a base to travel from one end of Cardigan bay to the other. Home to the UK’s largest pod of Dolphins, they can be easily seen here with the naked eye just by sitting on the harbour wall. You don’t need binoculars but they will get you a closer look! A few cafes and restaurants line the tiny harbour wall. It isn’t a big town but it is very pretty.
The beach is a must to walk on. When we visited, we had access direct from the caravan site to the beach and even though for a day or two the weather was awful, we still went to the beach in wellies and waterproofs! The best thing was that we had the beach all to ourselves!
If you want to try and get a closer look at the dolphins and seals that live in the area, you can take a boat trip from several of the cardigan bay harbours. Do be warned though – these dolphins are wild and have their own agenda on if they will show up on time! Sightings cannot be guaranteed even though the captains will do their best and point out all other animals they see on the way.
New Quay – Cardigan Bay Watersports
If you fancy something with a little more adrenaline, perhaps Cardigan Bay Watersports are more up your street? From sailing and sea kayaking , paddle boards, water skiing and wake-boarding sessions you will really get your blood pumping! With courses starting from £55 and rentals from £18 +4 if you require a wet suit. They also offer a ladies only sailing lesson, lead by a female instructor.
An excellent beach for families all year round, this is also a good spot for a bit of surfing in the right conditions. It is a really relaxing location with a traditional pub that overlooks the sea and a beach café selling home made ice cream.
When the tide is out, you can walk around to the next beach which is also accessible from the cliff top steps. Take a walk around the headland or join up with the Ceredigion, West Wales coastal path. The views here are among the best you will ever get. Being west facing, Ceredigion is one of only a few counties that can boast sun sets over the sea!
Another great place to see the marine wildlife of seals, and sometimes their pups, the bays provide safety and a rich spot in which to find yourself. It has a blue flag beach award and is a sandy beach perfect for picnics and castle building!
According to legend, a Ceredigion giant called Bica was suffering from toothache and spat out the offending tooth in anger. Imagine the size of Bica when you see the weathered rock known as Carreg Bica at Llangrannog, which was allegedly the giant’s tooth.
The beautiful market town of Cardigan is the gateway to the Teifi Valley (pronounced Tie-Vee) as well as the coastal paths for Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. To the untrained eye, nothing much has changed here in decades. It has narrow streets and untouched buildings dating back to Georgian and Victorian times. These are now inhabited with quirky gift shops, traditional butchers, grocers and independent stores.
Not your typical castle experience for sure! From a Georgian mansion to the medieval castle ruins and grade 2 listed gardens full of rare plant species. The castle houses temporary and permanent exhibitions. It even has a live bat-cam! There are lots of activities on their calendar throughout the year so do check what is on when planning your trip!
There is also a good variety of refreshments on sale in cafes and pubs featuring a range of locally sourced food. This even includes Sewin, a sea trout that is a speciality of the river Teifi.
The Guildhall market.
A Georgian building built around 1860. It has high arches decorating the walls outside and these are also reflected within the building. A crypt like arched basement houses the lower tier of stalls. These range from a friendly café serving artisan pasta, quiches and pastries, to dress making, clothing, home appliance and pre loved furniture stalls.
A new addition is a gallery that opens onto the street, full of beautiful carved wooden items and paintings of the local area. It is certainly worth exploring some of the side roads too as we found a few interesting shops selling unusual gifts. we find it helpful when we travel to check out these types of shops for unique gifts and keep them for Christmas or birthday presents for people.
A short drive away from Cardigan is Poppit Sands. This is a wide beach with parking and a café on the roadside. Sand dunes and a lifeboat station block your view of the beach from the car park but a very short walk later and you are rewarded with a magnificent beach.
There are rocky areas on the left with plenty of rock pools to investigate and a lovely sandy beach where we watched the horses being ridden along the shallow water. Driftwood was in plentiful supply if you are looking for a project so bring a ‘bag-for-life’!
If you fancy a close up look at the rocky cliffs, why not book onto a coasteering taster session for you or your family. Everything your mother told you not to do at the beach can be achieved under the watchful eye of Adventure Beyond staff. They offer a wide range of activities including white water tubing, gorge walking and climbing.
Ceredigion, West Wales, simply put has it all. From relaxing beaches to full on exhilaration. Myth, Legend and modern museums. For more information on the West Wales Coast including Ceredigion, check out the Visit Wales website.