Date walked: 25th November 2013
Distance walked: about 12 miles
Cumulative total of miles walked along The Wales Coast Path: 478
OS map required: 213: Aberystwyth and Cwm Rheidol to Borth, then OL23 – Cadair Idris and Lyn Tegid. I get all my maps from Dash4it. They are well discounted, and delivery is free and fast.
This part of The Wales Coast Path comes within the Ceredigion Council’s area. Their Coastal Access Officers can be emailed at email@example.com
I had with me a copy of Liz Allan’s little booklet on the Ceredigion Coast Path (published 2009). This has some interesting background but no specific information about facilities. Also Mike Salter kindly sent me his booklet “The Ceredigion Coast Path” last updated in 2012 and obtainable directly from him at firstname.lastname@example.org priced £4.75 inclusive of posting . Illustrated with black and white photos, this publication is also brief and lacks detailed information about facilities but also has (sometimes different!) background and historical information than Liz Allan’s booklet even though it is not as well presented. They cover the path as far as Borth.
After last month’s walk I had decided to suspend my walking the coast path until spring next year. I hadn’t taken into account that this has become almost something of a compulsive activity; this was my first opportunity to get a few more days in. This time I had found an excellent base in Eglwys Fach just off path. We (Anne came too) hired London House which is situated on the busy main road. The village has no shop – although it has a church and it does have an excellent bus service in the X 27 that runs quite frequently (Monday to Saturday) between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth. So on a bright Monday morning I caught the 9.49 bus to join the commuters to Aberystwyth.
Sit back and take it easy- this is a long one!
By 10.30am I was walking past the station to return to the harbour and looking back towards last months walk.
There were some very fine buildings belonging to the University on the seafront that rather shamed the comparatively shabby pier.
Round the corner from these, the recent storms had spread a good dollop of the gritty beach onto the pavement; council workers were out with their brooms.
A wreath attached to the railings must, I thought, have been placed in memory of those lost at sea.
It seemed for some like a morning for contemplation.
I was contemplating whether my recently starting a low dose of a beta blocker prescribed to counteract SVT (see my blog post of December 8th ) was going to inhibit my ability to get up the steep bits. I’m pleased to report that climbing up the zig zag path of Constitution Hill by the funicular railway didn’t present any difficulties. So far so good.
I was soon at the top of the cliff (where there is a Camera Obscura said to be the largest in the world) and looking forward to my first caravan site of the day. The sea was as calm as I have seen it in my entire walk.
I didn’t have long to wait. Nestling below me in Clarch Bay was the Mother of all caravan parks its regimented green boxes laid out as if to be about to mount a campaign on the surrounding hillside.
As I marched past the caravan clubhouse my phone rang. The very annoying people from Santander were ringing me to try and justify their ludicrous policy of insisting of sending me a text before they will allow me to pay someone new when I had already told them that I don’t get a mobile signal at home. My bad for having the phone on. A mile of the most beautiful cliff top paths flanked by rusty coloured bracken soon erased my irritation.
Opposite a somewhat severe property called Wallog, where several pea hens wandered around, a ridge of shingle, known as Sarn Gynfelyn was making its presence known even at the high tide by the breaking of waves as they approached the shore.
In her guide, Liz Allen says that this 20 metre wide morainic feature dating from the ice-age extends around 7 miles to sea. I kept looking back to it as I continued towards Borth.
In the end all I could make out was a dark shadow on the sea’s surface which reached the horizon.
A few more quite steep climbs and drops on this most excellent grassy path gave me my first view of the mouth of the Dyfi and its dune covered surroundings.
There were sheep in the fields, of course.
And there were more caravans, as numerous as the sheep.
Any attempt at containing them within a boundary appeared to have been abandoned. In fact they had become the boundaries of the fields…..
….merging seamlessly into the settlement of Upper Borth.
As I strolled down the bungalow lined street to Borth a rather battered green Golf drew up beside me and an elderly gentleman started talking to me through the open window. He told me that he was brought up in Borth and had walked all of the coast around here and most of Pembrokeshire. He followed this up by complaining about what they had done to the beach. I cast my critical eye over the beach but could not find the fault (though that looks suspiciously like a sewage outlet.)
“Those boulders”, he exclaimed “totally out of keeping”. I suppose I could see his point, though the pipe itself would have been my objection and I confided in him my dislike of the caravans. “There were no caravans in my day”, he said. Which raised the question for me. When do we consider “my day” starts and finishes?
Borth struck me as a very strange place. A sort of synthesis of a Wild West shanty town with somewhere where Dr Who ought to have landed (and given his propensity to turn up in Wales, may well have done already). I don’t think that I can do better but to offer a short photographic essay by way of explanation.
Towards the end of this long and fascinating street, a sign post sent me away from the beach due east. It was an odd but rather exciting experience knowing that for the next three days I would be walking not by the coast but alongside the Dovey estuary.
The path crosses the railway line that connects Borth to Aberystwyth and Machynlleth.
In the next field a little group of donkeys were munching on a bale of straw, prompting me to take and tweet a picture to our friend Sarah (@nicelittleplace) who has two donks.
As I plodded across this very flat and slightly soft ground a couple of low flying military planes headed up the valley.
The path then crosses the obviously canalised River Leri which discharges into the Dovey.
It was around 3pm by now and the low sun was beautifully illuminating the bushy seed heads of the reeds growing by the little drainage ditches of this boggy land.
These ditches clog up regularly and the banks are cut and the ditches regularly cleared out.
The path runs past a very scrubby wood.
The moisture-loving alders are the dominant species, their tall slim trunks were still carrying a few leaves.
After leaving the wood , a raised walkway led to a little fenced off area and notice, compelling me to investigate. I’m glad I did. It led to a wide oblong shaped pool surrounded by reeds and grasses. This low warm light shining on the straw coloured stems was making the most perfect picture.
This is the most dramatic view of the Cors Fochno or Borth Bog.
The next mile skirts this peat bog….
…..the views inland to the fields around looking increasingly pretty in the low sun.
The trees, making a tapestry of different shapes and colours, were especially beautiful.
After 4 miles of crossing the Dovey flood plain the path joins the A 487 briefly at Tre Taliesin and I found an opportunity for my favourite kind of photograph.
Tre’r- ddol is just half a mile further along the road, though here the quiet village is bypassed by the busy road. They have an impressive chapel.
Thankfully the path leaves the road just after Tre’r-ddol and climbs up through the mostly birch woods of Pantglas Mawr.
The path continues to climb, giving me a glimpse of the Dovey estuary and then traverses the hillside below Foel Fawr.
As it became very gloomy in this last light of the day I needed to take a route back to the A487 at Furnace and Eglwys Fach where a much deserved cup of tea and a piece of Bara brith were promised. If I made it myself.
All the photographs on this and most of my other posts were taken on a Canon compact and were processed from Raw files. High resolution files and/or prints of up to A3+ size can be produced on request. Email me for costs at Charles@veddw.co.uk