Llanon to New Quay – Wales Coast Path

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When we started walking the Wales Coast Path we had vowed we wouldn’t walk when it forecasted rain…

Summer 2017 seems to be a summer of sunshine and showers, and having taken a month off in July for various holiday commitments, we decided to take a gamble as August looks like being very changeable.

Five minutes into the walk and it poured down, but we persevered. Wet weather jackets dry off pretty quickly – its warm so we are walking in shorts, our boots are theoretically waterproof.

This walk is not particularly challenging, and is straightforward mainly along low cliffs.

The stretch from Llanon to Aberarth is pleasant, rising above Graig ddu and then a gentle descent into Aberarth.

Once again we reflected how much more there is to these coastal villages than is apparent when driving through on the main road.

We stopped for lunch at the Harbourmaster in Aberaeron, spending more time than we intended browsing through the shops. The harbour and the pastel painted Regency houses makes Aberaeron a charming place to stop on the WCP.

We circled the Harbour over the footbridge and picked up the path. The route takes you through Gilfach yr Halen holiday village eventually reaching Craig Ddu – this is the only
short steep climb on the walk.

A brief woodland walk near Cei Bach and then through a farmyard onto a road

At Pont Llanina, we checked with a dog walker whether we were going to beat the tide to New Quay – at this point in the walk we could take either the high or low tide option.

She figured if we were pretty sharp we could walk across the beach, and if we couldn’t scramble across the rocks to the harbour at New Quay, we would be able to detour through the caravan park.. we scrambled across the rocks!!

Not to be advised at high tide, but we were comfortable that we had plenty of time to complete our walk before the tide had fully turned.

New Quay to Llangrannog – Wales Coast Path

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Don’t believe any guide book that tells you this is an 8 or 8.5 mile section – Ceredigion Path website has it as 9.4 miles – I only wish I had accessed their website, before planning what was going to be a relatively short walk before returning home.

The Ceredigion path seems to be gentler underfoot than its Pembrokeshire counterpart but the ups and downs are just as punishing, particularly on a very hot day in July.

After exploring New Quay and its Dylan Thomas connections just follow your nose up Rock Street to the Fish Factory and you hit the first rise and so it goes on.

Bird and dolphin watchers were out in force, as the previous evening the Dolphins had been frolicking in New Quay harbour – we didn’t spot any on our walk.

We stopped at Melyn y Gors cafe in Cwmtydu but as we came down the slope into the bay there is a sign that says 5.5 miles to Llangranog, the next sign some 300 yards along says 4.5… confused or what?

The path goes very near the edge in parts, we met a couple of people who said they hoped we didn’t have vertigo and we could see their point – at one stage the track looks as if it heads over the cliff into the sea – not surprisingly it has been called “The Path of Doom”. Despite the edges it is relatively easy to walk, a steady climb.

We take a rest before we head up the slope towards the Urdd centre and another slope. This is where we run into Malcolm, who is walking around Wales for two charities – Wales Air Ambulance and a deaf school in Ammanford. He gave us a great overview of the difficulties we may face heading further north, while we shared our experiences with the tides I. Pembrokeshire and the challenges on the St Dogmaels to Newport stretch.

He also was very helpful at a later stage when we reached Pendinas Lochtyn. The signs seem to indicate an uphill climb, via a concrete path – he had walked up to the top, as did we, but in reality the path goes round Pendinas and curves away from Ynys Lochtyn towards Llangranog. He saved us much confusion as we would have been trying to find a direct route down the hill

We soldiered on to the pretty village of Llangranog, grateful to have completed this deceptive but stunning section.

Llangrannog to Mwnt – Wales Coast Path

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August so it must be raining. We met with some heavy showers on this stretch. It isn’t the getting wet that is bothersome, it’s the path turning into a muddy treacle mess.

The bracken is tall at this time of year and droops over the path in the rain. You can’t see where to plant your feet. Lucy also spotted a snake on this stretch, and with the summer adder warnings in place, we are cautious

That said, this is a very pretty stretch of coastline, if you ignore the very obvious MOD security fence in Aberporth.

In Llangrannog we swiftly climbed from the beachfront to the statue of St. Carannog who founded the first church here somewhere between 480AD and 520AD.  He was the grandson of Ceredig whose name has been taken for this region – Ceredigion.

We touched the statue for luck, we followed the cliff path, before heading through fields. With Pen y Bryn beach in our sights, the heavens opened. We scurried onwards to the little tea Room called The Plwmp Tart along with other crazy outdoor bikers and walkers.

The downpour soon stopped and we made our way into the small woodland across the car park, we clambered up some steep steps. We were about to leave the woodland, when it rained again!

We stayed under the trees for sometime before we headed for Tresaith.  Marvelling at a rainbow rising and falling into the sea.

The heathers are now adding colour to our journey, a brilliant purple carpet. For foragers, the hazel nut shells are hardening, the blackberries are ripening, the elder flowers have turned to berries and will soon be ready for that winter cold cure! So many rich pickings.

Stopping for a delicious lunch at The Ship in Tresaith, we comment on how great it is that so many of our food experiences on the coast, have included local Welsh produce. Such a vast improvement on previous years.

Quite steep descent and ascent at Tresaith leading to a pleasant walk to Aberporth. We passed a couple of converted railway carriages. I remembered a cozy stay in “Wendy” one of the conversions.

Ceredigion’s path signage may be a bit quirky, but I take my hat off to them for their public art. A skeleton ship at the entrance to the beach at Aberporth catches our eye – engraved in the stones are local ships lost at sea.

Crossing the beach, accessing the road past yet another Ship pub, we climb the seemingly never ending Rhiw y Rofft..

We arrive, breathless at the perimeter fence for the MOD. Skirting around the outskirts, we eventually turn right and then left across fields, then through woodland. A series of footbridges follow.

At Pencestyll we see warning signs for “non ionising radiation “. I am not sure what it meant but we hurry through the kissing gates, passing the military instillation on the hill towards our final stop Mwnt, with its little white chapel nestling at the base of Foel y Mwnt.

Mwnt to St Dogmaels – Wales Coast Path

 

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Moving on from Pembrokeshire Coast Path to Ceredigion.

This particular section is pretty but bitty.

Mwnt is a favourite spot of mine for dolphin spotting and sunsets.

Thet tiny whitewashed Church of the Holy Cross dates from the 14th century, and nestles below Foel y Mwnt.

Lucy’s friend, Louise Williams, based her Bake Off design on this little church and when it collapsed on the show it was her turn to leave the kitchen. The memory resulted in a Lucy Tweet.

The beach at Mwnt is sheltered on all sides and has a National Trust Car park and toilets!

One thing we missed on this stretch is the Grid references on the signposting, and the Ceredigion Path logo predominates with few Wales Coast Path signs.

The path veers inland through a field and then down through Ferwig towards Gwbert with views across to Poppit Sands Following the track alongside the main road, we soon reach a turn off which takes us through fields with tantalising views down onto the river Teifi.

Crossing a road to some fields which takes us further away from the river, we follow the signs until we pass the Sewage works and we eventually drop down to Netpool.

The path takes us up Quay street, and you cannot miss the newly renovated 12th century castle. Walk down the hill to the Quay and across the bridge over the Teifi. Turn right passing a new Fusion Asian restaurant (this used to be the Eagle pub). Signposting needs to be looked out for the turn towards St Dogmaels Abbey – the only Tironian Order Abbey in England and Wales.

If you are lucky enough to be here on a Tuesday the local produce market is worthy of a visit – winner in its category of the BBC Good Food Award. Producers sourced within a 30 mile radius.

We had a hearty lunch at the White Hart pub nearby.

St Dogmaels to Parrog – Wales Coast Path

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St. Dogmaels to The Parrog Newport, Pembs.

A leisurely stroll from St Dogmaels to Poppit then some 13 miles of the most challenging stretch of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. This stage is variously called strenuous, gruelling, fierce-some, and it is all of these.

The most memorable time I walked this stretch was years ago, with my pre- teen nephew, and we headed off without enough water, no food, no suncream in shorts and trainers.

Really bad planning for a route where the only easy way to leave the path is to walk inland from Ceibwr Bay to Moylegrove.

This time we made sure that we were well stocked with supplies.

We left Poppit Sands, and climbed passed the Youth Hostel, looking over our shoulders we can clearly see Cardigan Island, and the whole of Cardigan Bay.

We passed a farmhouse near Allt y Coed campsite, passing through the farmyard we chatted to a farmer bottle feeding some lambs – he jokingly said that we might want to wipe our feet on the way out of the yard.

We climb round Cemaes Head and then after that we are up and down, first Pen yr Afr , then further climbing up to Pwllygranant.

So it goes on – we take time out to sit on a bench overlooking Ceibwr Bay, knowing there was worse to come.

Pwll y Wrach – the Witches Cauldron is an interesting feature, a collapsed cave. Then it is one steep climb after another, followed by descents, then up and down again.

Even when you get a clear view of the main Newport Beach, taking you by surprise, there is a difficult rocky descent, followed by more steps and stiles before reaching the car park and toilets. The path continues across the golf course, passing a limekiln until you reach the road. Cross over the bridge and we followed the sign taking us to the Parrog.

We were very grateful to be dropped off and picked up after the walk by my big brother.

Parrog to Goodwick – Wales Coast Path

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The late spring weather has meant some more fabulous walking along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which opened in 1970 and has been well trodden ever since.

While this stage is not as torturous as St Dogmaels to Newport it is still challenging in parts.

From Newport to Cwm yr Eglwys is a dream walk, with pungent smelling bluebells and gorse and a bright blue sea.

Cwm yr Eglwys is a pretty little hamlet with the west wall of St Brynach church still standing after being abandoned following the Great Storm of 1859. We made time to sit and enjoy the tranquil setting – first snack break of the day.

You can from here take a short cut to Pwll Gwaelod but the WCP goes round Dinas Head, slightly more challenging but not difficult.

At Pwllgwaelod, we stopped at the Old Sailor pub for liquid refreshments – happy memories as a teenager, drinking in the Sailor’s Safety, as it was previously called, after a game of tennis in nearby Dinas Cross. The Old Sailor dates back to 1593, and those walls would have witnessed some smugglers in their time. In the 1980s, the locals became curious about a bunch of strangers, who were flashing the cash, by paying for drinks out of bags full of money. There had been tales of some strange movements in Slipping Bay near Moylegrove. The local curiosity and gossip led the police to investigate and it led to the arrest eventually of a large global network of drug smugglers – Operation Seal Bay still gets talked about in pubs.

WPC leads you up an incline in front of the pub, from here to the Old Fort in Fishguard the path gets particularly convoluted, especially after exiting Fishguard Bay caravan park. At the right time of year though, there will be loads of bilberries, ready for the picking on this stretch.
The Old Fort built around 1751 released canon fire on the French during the 1797 invasion forcing them to seek a landing further west.

Lower town Fishguard looked pretty in the afternoon sun – parts of Under Milk Wood featuring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor was filmed here.

A bit of road walking takes us down and then up the hill towards Fishguard turning off to access Marine Walk from Bank Terrace. This is a pleasant stroll into Goodwick.

Stumble Head to Goodwick – Wales Coast Path

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We split this walk into two parts – Strumble Head to Goodwick then Strumble Head to Abercastle. If you start in Goodwick there is a heck of a steep walk near Fishguard Bay Hotel upwards. After a lengthy walk the previous day we switched our plan to start slowly at Strumble.

On the Pencoed Peninsula – Strumble head in spring is divine. Loads of birdlife – I don’t know my goose from my gander but even I can appreciate the variety. Spring flowers are nature’s multi coloured carpet.

At Porthsychan, Lucy thinks she has spotted a seal, but I mockingly say it is a buoy, but a few minutes later we hear a plaintive call and way below us we got a clear sighting.

We also spotted several jelly fish, looking like an alien species in the clear blue waters

A little cottage appears on the headland at Penrhyn. While a memorial stone commemorating the last invasion of Britain is seen near Carregwastad. 1200 Frenchmen led by an elderly American – Colonel Tate landed in 1797.

The Last Invasion Tapestry can be seen in Fishguard recounting the story – locally we see Jemima Nicholas as the heroine of the invasion – rounding up twelve soldiers single handedly and locking them up in the church. The Royal Oak pub on the roundabout in Fishguard is where the peace treaty was thrashed out.

We walked through Harbour Village, I stopped to talk to an elderly gentleman surrounded by wee dogs, he offered a drink, but we moved onto the final descent into Goodwick, treating ourselves to a nice Sunday Lunch at the Rose and Crown

Stumble Head to Abercastle – Wales Coast Path

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Continuing on from the Goodwick to Strumble Head walk, we stock up with enough food and drink for the day, as this stretch is quite remote, it takes you over several rocky outcrops, with an uphill climb to Pwll Deri and the YHA.

The joy of these North Pembrokeshire walks is that you have great scenery inland as well as the coast.

We come out onto the roadway and walk past the memorial stone to Dewi Emrys, a Welsh poet whose most famous poem was entitled Pwll Deri, written in North Pembrokeshire dialect.

At Pwllcrochan, we ran into a jolly group of walkers, led by a Mr Peter Broomfield, who hailed from Scotland. In talking about the drawbacks of winter walking as opposed to spring, Mr B. Suggested that Welsh sheep poo was much smellier than Scottish sheep sh*t. His argument was that as there are more sheep in Wales on lusher pastures than in Scotland then the poo was therefore smellier – I am not going to be following up on the suggestion…. his friends told us to be sure to mention him by name in our blog. Lovely group of people.

We head towards the twin beaches of Aberbach and Abermawr, both beaches are backed by pebbles. The first thing you notice as you descend onto Aberbach is the vivid green marsh leading onto the pebbles.

Between here and Pwllstrodur the sea is strewn with little rocky inlets.

An easy walk alongside the man made stone wall, nicknamed “the Great Wall of China”, we eventually reach the Abercastell.

A small working fishing village, with a small jetty and limited parking. No shops or cafe but as we had parked our car here, we adjourned to nearby Melin Tregwynt for some food and drink, a bit of shopping. It is worth noting that the local Strumble shuttle bus stops in Abercastle and Melin Tregwynt.