Finger post sign for Ceredigion Coast Path

Wales Coast Path: Penbryn to Cardigan

November 3, 2013 · 31 comments

Date walked: 9th October 2013

Distance walked: about 14 miles

Cumulative total of miles walked along The Wales Coast Path:431 (almost exactly half way!)

OS map required: Explorer 198: Cardigan and New Quay

This is part of The Wales Coast Path but is also designated as the Ceredigion Coast Path and comes within the Ceredigion Council’s area. Their Coastal Access Officer can be emailed at: countryside@ceredigion.gov.uk

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 mike@castlesalter.co.uk . illustrated with black and white photos, this publication is also brief and lacks information about facilities but has more background and historical information than Liz Allan’s booklet even though it is not as well presented.

There is also an official website for the Ceredigion Coast Path. It does have maps of the route and is useful for public transport links but only links to the Visit Wales website for accommodation and has no information about eating and drinking places or toilets. It also has a link to an offcial guide book for the path.

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For those regular readers I must offer an explanation as to why you might think that I am going in the wrong direction.

Anne and I had hired a little cottage for a few days  just up the beach from Penbryn through Under The Thatch.

Penbont, near Penbryn Beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

A nice little place with a few niggles

My plan was to use this as my base to continue my journey on the Wales Coast Path. And today my intention was to walk to Tresaith (about a mile) and to catch a bus from there to Cardigan and walk back, thus keeping to my south-to-north direction. But by the time I had got to Tresaith, some 20 minutes before the bus was due, I felt that I had got into my stride, so just carried on. Sorry.

Penbryn is a smashing beach with a wonderful cave at the far end but the Wales Coast Path doesn’t take you to it. So to disorient you even further, here’s a couple of pics that I took the day that we arrived.

Penbryn beach, Ceredigion photographed by Charles Hawes

Yes, I know this could be anywhere but it’s still a great pic don’t you think?

 

Cave at Penbryn beach, Ceredigion photographed by Charles Hawes

A bit of flash, a tweak in shadows and highlights and Hey Presto, you can see right inside

The path does pass the little cottage in the middle of the car park that houses a café (which I can recommend also there are toilets) and then crosses the steep little wooded valley and approaches the coast.

View north along the Ceredigion Coast Path from near Tresaith, photographed by Charles Hawes

Just to confuse you further, this is the view looking north from near Tresaith

A steady climb reveals the first static caravan site of the day, just before Tresaith. In fact the powers that be have sandwiched the little village with a caravan site on either side of its sandy beach, taking these unattractive boxes to the edge of the cliffs.

View south along the Wales Coast Path (Ceredigion Coast Path) approaching Tresaith and Aberporth, photographed by Charles Hawes

Tresaith in middle of pic: a caravan sandwich.

Beach and caravan site at Tresaith, Ceredigion, photographed from the Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Can we crane another one in – I think we can!

There are toilets and a little café by the beach but it was too early to stop and so I carried on along the fairly level path to Aberporth. Its outskirts are blessed with several isolated homes made by adapting railway carriages.

Converted railway carriage on the outskirts of Aberporth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

No, there is no possible reason that this should have been allowed.

Quite how someone managed to persuade the council that strewing railway carriages around in the open countryside and then tarting them up  was a way to enhance the countryside (where there is a presumption against building isolated houses) is beyond me.

Converted railway carriage on the outskirts of Aberporth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Its not like converting farm buildings that might have been there for 100 years or so.

I was reminded of the time of my active membership of The Campaign for The Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW)  when Ceredigion was notorious for its perverse and insensitive planning decisions and here I could see why it earned this reputation. And of course, once you allow one tarted up railway carriage to become a house you might as well allow another ugly bungalow to be to be built next to it.

Converted railway carriage on the outskirts of Aberporth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

But just like barn “conversions” the original building gets extended so that the original is hardly recognizable.

The quality of the architecture of the bungalows in the village  was so poor that a sensitive soul might feel despair but then from what I saw, this characterless 20th and early 21st century housing is so prevalent in the area that a sensitive soul might want to pack up and go home.

Vernacular architecture in Ceredigion, photographed from The wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Are these ugly or are they ugly?

Aberporth’s double beach crossed, a steep climb up the hill away from the coast brings you to the entrance of the government out-sourced agency called Qinetiq who with “expertise, passion and commitment” are developing unmanned aerial combat capabilities on our behalf and occupy 550 acres including a large  chunk of the coast here. Weapon testing has been taking place here since the 1940s.

Fence of MOD Aberporth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This must be the be 5th or 6th area of the Wales Coast I’ve passed controlled by the MOD where access is prevented or restricted.

The mile and a half detour was fairly dreary, after which it was nice to see the bracken covered cliffs again.

Inlet between Aberporth and Mwnt in Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I get to miss the sea very quickly!

The geology around here was quite remarkable, the predominate rock under the surface appearing to mostly comprise thin shattered layers of slatey shale.

Shale subsoil, photographed from The Wales Coast Path near Aberporth by Charles Hawes

Amazingly fractured rock!

It was reflected by sharply incised little valleys eked out by small streams which are crossed by footbridges.

Footbridge across little valley near Aberporth, Ceredgion on The wales Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

You might half expect a troll to be hiding under the bridge (if you had my childhood reading)

When the cliffs are seen over the next couple of miles it is obvious that this highly jointed rock has been subject to all sorts of disturbances.

Conorted rock strata near Mwnt, Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Chgarles Hawes

Somebody get me a book on the geology of the welsh coast for Christmas!

Mostly though, the lie of the land means that the coastline is hidden from view with occasional glimpses until the hill of Foel y Mwnt with the pretty 14th Century Church of The Holy Cross sitting at its base.

View of Foel y Mwnt photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This is the nice version

Depending on your point of view (literally), the charm of this very special place is ruined by the presence of a monstrously insensitively sited caravan park and another very ugly house.

Church of The Holy Cross, Mwnt, photographed from The wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

This is the not so nice version

A car park serves the visitors to the chapel and the pretty little sandy beach and by it a kiosk (and toilets) offers refreshment and relief and a range of postcards of idealised  photographs of the chapel which omit its nasty backdrop. The kiosk person kindly interrupted her phone call (the subject of which was obviously about the possibility of someone known to them being a child abuser) to provide me with a Welsh cake and a coffee.

View of Foel y Mwnt and the beach and chapel looking north, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

At this distance it all looks pretty nice.

Officially (and according to my map) the coast path would then carry on towards Cardigan Island but 16 months after its official opening  Ceredigion have still to establish access along the coast for the next couple of miles so a further inland trek was required on farm tracks and minor roads through pretty dreary countryside via the hamlet of Ferwig.

Wales Coast Path near Ferwig, photographed by Charles Hawes

Humph

Writing in 2009 Liz Allan comments that the route here was “still under dispute” so it would appear that the issues are intractable. Mike Salter explains that although the council have exercised some compulsory purchase orders for land to accommodate the path the problem here appears to be that the tourist attraction who own it are resisiting.

At Ferwig  (no shop or toilets) I was joined by a Jack Russell  (the sweetest natured breed unless you are a pheasant or rabbit) who continued to trot along by me for the next mile.

He’s a cross, I think

As cars approached he would get closer to me and then forge ahead when the road was clear.

Route of the Wales Coast Path on road near Ferwig, photographed by Charles Hawes

He didn’t seem to want anything from me

As we approached the coast again I began to fear that he would end up coming with me to Cardigan but then a large (but equally quiet) dog appeared on the bank of a garden and the sight of him was enough to have my new friend belting back up the road.

My friend is the little white dot off centre and far away!

In keeping with  the vernacular architecture, The Cliff Hotel at Gwbert has to be the ugliest such establishment that I had seen on the path to date, so I was happy to turn my back on it and follow the road south towards Cardigan.

The Cliff Hotel at Gwbert, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles hawes

Nuff said.

Gwbert (which has no shop or toilets) was obviously a place of keen and creative gardeners.

Carex buchanii in scallop cage?

As the coast path nears habitations so it becomes used by dog walkers. In this part of the world although they appear to have “got” that having their dogs shit on the path is not acceptable, some seem to think that it is OK to subsequently leave the bagged up poo for someone else to collect.

No, since you are asking, i didn’t open the bag to check

There was a brief re-emergence of railway carriage conversions …..

converted railway carriage between Gwbert and Cardigan photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

How many of these things are there in Ceredigion?

…..and waterside Caravan Parks……

 

Patch Cravan Park on the Teifi estuary, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

There’s a thank you plaque by the roadside from the Council to the park owners for funding part of the footpath!

and then just after a boatyard the path turns inland again for a more direct route though cultivated fields to Cardigan.

It began to rain quite heavily so I whisked on my waterproofs. Putting over trousers on is usually a pain if you have nowhere to sit but my Outdoor Research ones have zips going right up to the hips. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Overhead, several flocks of geese passed by and I managed to get a snap of one of them.

geese flying over the Wales Coast Path at the Teifi estuary, photographed by Charles Hawes

The path passes a sewage works where a dog walker/conceptual artist had thoughtfully suspended a bag of poo.

Penbryn_to_cardigan_-81

When I look at this pic Tim Richardson comes to mind

The path passes through a playground by the banks of the Teifi and a restaurant made from a playfully converted boat.

Penbryn_to_cardigan_-83

Cardigan’s main street doesn’t exactly overwhelm with interesting shops or compelling café’s so I headed straight for the square where most buses congregate. I was nearly an hour early for the one I had planned to get back to Tresaith but found an alternative one that was leaving straight away that would deposit me no further from home at Sarnau.  I had an easy stroll down to the cottage and made us a nice cup of tea and had a Welsh Cake (too sweet).

Here’s a nice photo of Anne on the beach at Penbryn to put you(me) back into a good mood.

Anne Wareham on Penbryn Beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Anne- doing what she likes best- next to reading books.

 

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil November 3, 2013 at 8:36 am

Entertaining as usual, with a higher rant count…. Like the new concept of trying to match the pictures with the captions. (might become too tricky, though, if you mixed them across blogs).

Looks like some nice areas to walk, but it’s not Pembrokeshire….

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 8:46 am

Morning! Yes, this is my Bad Tempered Walk. It continues next week. Captioning is an art in itself. Ask Greyson Perry.

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Neil November 3, 2013 at 8:39 am

(Strangely, the pics/captions are correct on your blog, but not on my e-mail link)

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 8:47 am

Good! (Cos I didn’t know what you meant)

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Anne Wareham November 3, 2013 at 9:48 am

Cheeky. But it is true that I like taking photos….. (see my blog for gardeners.. http://veddw.com/category/blog/..) (sorry Tim)

I think this post has effectively cleared this part of the Coast Path from walkers. Altogether depressing apart from the sea-y bits. I liked our bit though….. Xx

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 9:58 am

Some people are so self promoting!

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Anne Wareham November 3, 2013 at 10:08 am

Who? Me????!!!!!!

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Anne Wareham November 3, 2013 at 9:50 am

Afterthought – I would love to know why people want all those caravans and converted railway carriages. What on earth do they DO when they’re there? (take photographs and read????) They certainly don’t appear to bring prosperity.

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 9:57 am

Yes, what do they do? Tend their gardens?

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Anne Wareham November 3, 2013 at 10:07 am

There aren’t any!

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Paul Steer November 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Hi Charles, very ranty but well observed walk of words and pictures. I really do not understand my fellow dog walkers/conceptual artists – why do they think it better to leave their dog shit festering suspended in plastic bags rather than take it with them ? Perhaps they return at some point to collect it ? I see you are not a fan of caravan parks. I have to confess that I loved our caravan as a child, it gave us freedom to explore the wild coastline of Carmarthenshire, and instilled in me a deep love for the natural world, but I get what you are saying about the sighting of them. And finally, thank you for raising the issue of the availability of toilets and refreshments, which become more important as we get as old as you. x

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Hi Paul. I wondered if they are making their own protest about the lack of bin provision but I am probably being too generous. I can be more ranty. There’s certainly a theme for my next few posts! I’ll ignore your aside about my advanced age.

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Paul Steer November 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Thank You, for ignoring my aside, just noticed a spelling error, I meant siting !

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Dru November 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm

I remember reading about qanats in geography, and storing up the word ready for an opportunity in scrabble. But when I used it my grandma told me off roundly, and made me do soemthing different. And rightly so. Qinetiq is a nonce name, isn’t it? I remember when it was RAE Aberporth. You knew where you were with initials like that. In the dark, and rightly so. Only the occasional brief roar of a rocket departing over the bay…

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Haha, this made me smile. It’s such a weird name, isn’t it. Would love to have been fly on wall in the board room discussion.

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martyn November 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

The pic with the crane is where I wanted to get some refreshments from the shop, but alas it was October and out of season and the shop was shut….until the owner walking their dog noticed me looking in the window with a sad face, whipped out her keys opened up and sold me an ice cream and crisps….i love the welsh!!!!

Also, Jack Russells are not the postmans friend…I have been bitten by 2 different dogs!!!

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Hi Martyn
Nice to have such a positive comment- about the Welsh if not about Jack Russells.

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martyn November 3, 2013 at 6:36 pm

My pleasure…..you are now in my favourite part of all the coast of Wales, Ceredigion and New Quay is the place I would like to re visit the most.

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Haha! Will be back in Aber for another dose of caravans before the end of the month!

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Anne Wareham November 3, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I was told today that the caravans and railway carriages are full of people from Birmingham. There’s interesting, eh?

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Charles November 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Yes indeed. But where did the railway carriages come from? Did they bring their own?

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Anne Wareham November 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I wasn’t told that. Maybe it was the end of the line…

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John November 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm

One could say that your photos start on a high (albeit substituting slate for thatch) and go downhill from pic 4. My “how to be a good photographer” book talks about splitting things into thirds which pic 2 does admirably. The rock colours of pic 3 (and the absence of footprints into the cave) are stunning. But then you let your prejudices come to the fore. Granted that the bags, caravan parks and converted railway carriages might all be covered by the general term “crap”, but have you ever spared a thought for the ancient residents of Monmonia who viewed the construction of that house thing in a bit of a dip as a ghastly intrusion into the landscape?

What is, in a sense, unbelievable, is the contrast between one side of a line (county boundary) and the other. Perhaps, having highlighted that, you could next week turn your camera the other way (though avoiding high cliff views please). Another issue I have is the total absence of sheep! Having spent many weeks in that area in my youth and early adulthood, I can attest to the preponderance of woolly things. Looking forward to Llangrannog by the way.

But the final photograph evinces a return to higher plateau. Will you stop trying to break my arm now, Anne?

PLUG
Dear reader. May I recommend that you follow the links Charles so thoughtfully provides and that you then pursue every detour and byway flowing from those links. For example, from that church I have toured a number of inland, and other coastal, parts of Wales and even Canada. Each of his posts leads me into a pleasurable journey of a couple of hours and an education. A great way to relax on a Sunday afternoon.

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Charles November 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

What a very full detailed comment, thank you. Although I am aware of the Rule of Thirds I can’t say that I have ever given it much conscious thought either when taking these snaps or with my professional work. Having said that, I see what you mean about the beach shot (each third being quite perfectly divided into two).
Crap indeed and what I want to do with the blog is speak with my voice and use the camera to illustrate what strikes me, so there may well be more crap to come. I doubt that you are right about the ancient inhabitants of the Veddw regarding seeing the cottage that was first built in our little valley as an intrusion. But who knows. We live in our own times and the pressures on our unspoilt landscape are immense. We need our councils to be part of protecting that landscape and here were clear examples of where Ceredigion have failed badly to do so.

Thanks for the encouragement of readers to use the links. Looking at my staats you are most unusual in exploring them!

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Anne Wareham November 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

O, visually our cottage would have looked like every other cottage and was probably whitewashed, which Wordsworth disliked intensely for its effect on the landscape.

And it was built by squatters who may have used land that was otherwise used in common. How did that work? I can’t imagine the people already living in The Fedw liked that. Would love to know more about that….

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John November 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Charles – as you know, I tend to rabbit on a bit. My verbosity needs taming. OTOH, you take the trouble to provide the links – diversions from the path as it were. And if I am that unusual, then the majority of your readers are missing out on a (IMHO) pleasurable opportunity.

Anne – do I detect a measure of agreement (with me)? Whilst I don’t disagree with Charles’ assertion(s) that the converted railway carriages and endless caravan parks (with the added bonus of what now appears to be dictated conformity of manufacturer, colour, size etc) are a crappy invasion of the landscape, we look at things in our time. Your cottage may have been similarly viewed by a Charles of that time. And no doubt the extension of Cardiff to what is now the airport will be viewed as invasive by the people of tomorrow. I might draw a parallel with the anti-chemical brigade and your repeat November blog post which advocates a dose of Roundup in the spring rather than a bit of digging now. And, incidentally, please use “pure” glyphosate; Roundup contains additives which, as far as I can see, merely serve to make the user think it’s working quicker but which may be damaging to the environment.

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Charles November 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Thank you again John!
I’ll let Anne come back on this if she is so minded!

ALUN EVANS June 17, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Love the photograph of the cave at Penbryn Beach, our children used to crawl into it.I remember those colours always reminded me of rusted rock.The unnamed beach is called “Traeth Bach”, nothing fancy the English translation being “Little Beach”

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Charles June 18, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Hello Alun. Thanks. Its a wonderful cave isn’t it and a super beach. And thanks for identifying the Little Beach. The cafe just back from the beach is a good ‘un (I can’t remember if I had mentioned it)

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Michelle August 28, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Hi. We completed this stretch of the Wales Coast Path on Tuesday. We missed the beach at Penbryn because, as you pointed out, the coast path takes you through the wooded valley. The railway caravans are still there but we didn’t see any bags of poo! We also saw a Jack Russell but this one did have a small rabbit locked in his teeth!

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Charles August 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm

Nice to hear of your progress! It is a nice beach but then there are a lot of nice beaches on the coast. I like Jack Russell and like them even better now. Happy walking.

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