View through The Cardigan Bay Lookout near New Quay, photographed by Charles Hawes

Wales Coast Path: Penbryn to New Quay

November 10, 2013 · 20 comments

Date walked: 10th October 2013

Distance walked: about 11 miles

Cumulative total of miles walked along The Wales Coast Path: 442

OS map required: Explorer 198: Cardigan and New Quay

This part of The Wales Coast Path comes within the Ceredigion Council’s area. Their Coastal Access Officers 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  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.

************

Having walked the wrong way from Penbryn yesterday (going anti-clockwise clearly put me out of sorts), today I was heading north to New Quay. I started off a little weary, not having had the best of nights under a sweltering duvet and overly firm synthetic pillows. Note to self: NEVER go on holiday again without my own bedding.

It was quite a long climb up from Penbryn’s car park to close to the mast that is situated on the side of the hill, but the view back towards Aberporth was worth the effort despite it reminding me of the static caravan invasions that have taken place on this stretch of coast.

View looking south from above Penbryn to Aberporth, photographed from The wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Bright and breezy view towards Aberporth

I found that I had better views of the coves and cliffs than on yesterday’s walk.

Bay between Penbryn and Llangrannog on The Wales Coast Path in Ceredigion, photographed by Charles Hawes

I couldn’t find a name for this bay, sorry

Yesterday I was quite hard on Ceredigion Council’s failure to open several miles of the Coast Path. Today I was immediately impressed by how much work they had been doing here.A whole new section of path had relatively recently been carved out from the hillside and a bridge provided for the gully crossing.

Newly established path and footbridge near Llangrannog, photographed from The Wales Coast Path in Ceredigion by Charles Hawes

Even involving volunteers these bridges and works don’t come cheap.

Once crossed and after the climb on the other side it was an easy stroll down to a fine view of Yns Lochtyn.

View to Yns Lochtyn photographed from  The Wales Coast Path near Llangrannog by Charles Hawes

A particularly nice jutty out bit, don’t you think?

Tucked into a bay before this headland, the village of Llangrannog was being assaulted by violent waves being whipped into a frenzy by the stiff wind,

Beach at Llangrannog, ceredigion,photographed from The wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

You might just make out two dots in the sea – The Bathers

much to the pleasure of two wet-suited men who were whooping with excitement as their surf boards shot them towards the beach. Llangranngog has a shop, pub – The Pentre Arms- , (ok food, nice beer- we ate there last night) toilets and two cafes, but it was too early for me to sample any of these facilities. I hoped that this might be the only railway carriage conversion of the day.

Railway carriage conversion in Llangrannog, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I suppose this is marginally nicer to look at than a bungalow

Above Yns Lochtyn the path rounds the hill (Pendinas Lochtyn) on top of which was an ancient fort (and some other not so ancient building). And then it shoots up the side of said hill: my strategy for such steep climbs is to go as slow as I like but never stop.

Yns Lochtyn, Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Time to catch your breath before a big climb round the corner

There was a fab view from the top giving me my first sighting (just) of the Lleyn peninsular and a hint of Snowdonia . And some sheep.

Sheep above Yns Loctyn in Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

We, like sheep….(I think they are smiling)

The fabulous view was quickly replaced by the sight of the Urdd (pronounced by me, “Ugh” or “Yuk” ) complex (incorporating a dry ski slope) and built for Yooth.

View of Urdd complex, photographed from The Wales Coast Path in Ceredigion by Charles Hawes

I couldn’t beilve it when I read that this place was just for Welsh speakers.

Shortly after this sprawling site, an elegantly carved slate sign mounted on a large lump of the same announces that this next section of the path was only opened in 2008.

Slate plaque at Urdd, Ceredigion,commemorating the opening of the next section of the Walaes Coast Path, photographed by Charles Hawes

Wouldn’t this look nicer without all the funders notices below it?

The path has been excavated from the steep hillside and provides dramatic and sometimes quite scary views to the coves and cliffs below.

View along the Wales Coast Path in Cerdigion from near the Urdd centre towards Cwmtydu

it does get quite wild and isolated for a couple of miles.

For the first time in the 400 or so miles that I had so far walked along the Wales Coast Path I felt some discomfort at this hillside being scarred for my benefit and some responsibility for the domestication of what would otherwise have remained a wild and remote place.

Exposed roots of bracken along the WalesCoast Path in Ceredigion between Urdd and Cwmtydu, photographed by Charles Hawes

Bracken roots exposed by the cutting of the path into the hillside.

It was, nevertheless, a deeply enjoyable mile and a half’s continuous climb. High above the path a building gets an even better view out to the sea but I don’t know its purpose or function.

View along the Wales Coast Path in Cerdigion from near the Urdd centre towards Cwmtydu

A fabulous stretch but is it OK to have made it at all?

Just before reaching the highest point I stopped for a coffee from my flask and took time to take in the wonderful views in both directions.

View to Ynys Lochtyn from near the highest point of the Ceredigion Coast path near Cwmtydu, photographed by Charles Hawes

Yns Loctyn again – from higher up.

It would be far too steep to take the shortest way down to the beach at Cwmtydu, so the path heads inland though a little wood before reaching the settlement to join a minor road, affording a view of the ubiquitous caravan site nestling (ok, i’m being ironic)  in the valley’s bottom.

caravan Park at Cwmtydu, photographed from The wales Coast path in Ceredigion by Charles Hawes

Maybe I should try and love caravan parks.

Cwmtydu is not going to win a pretty village prizes but I did note that it had toilets, at least one Bed and Breakfast and a café. And it has a fine pebbly beach that was being washed by equally rough seas that were lashing down on Llangrannog’s.

Contorted strata of rocks at the beach at Cwmtydu, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I do feel a bit bad that I bought nothing from the cafe (use it or lose it).

And it boasts a fine example of a restored lime  kiln  (used amongst other things as fertiliser by local farmers) by the side of the car park.

Restored lime kiln by the beach at Cwmtydu, Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

There are dozens of these near the path so I thought it was about time I included a good pic of one.

It had been a pretty dull day up until now but as I passed the mini island opposite the site of an Iron Age fort known as Castell Bach the sun emerged, casting shadows on this perky breast-shaped lump which showed its layered rock formation to great effect.

conical island opposite Castell Bach in Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I suppose you might say “conical” but it kept saying “breast” to me.

Close up view of conical island opposite Castell Bach in Ceredigion, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Here’s a better view of the wonderful rock formations.

A descent to a little pebble beach fed by a small stream (Cwm Soden) was followed by a steady climb up to the cliff tops once more. One more drop at Coybal was followed by a  climb back up to a very ugly little brick-built building with an odd stone annex and below it the altogether less offensive little whitewashed Cardigan Bay Lookout.

brick building near the cardigan Bay Lookout, photographed from the Wales Coast path near New quay by Charles Hawes

Function over form: did no one think if they could have made this more attractive/

The lookout was last used by coastguards in the 1960’s. An explanatory board inside reproduces some interesting snippets of the log book of observations.

Cardigan Bay Lookout, near New Quay, photographed from The Wales Coast path in Ceredigion by Charles Hawes

Lightroom did a fantastic job of correcting my verticals and horizontals with this pic.

Rounding the headland before New Quay one is faced with a choice of routes. A very precarious one that offers a narrow path above steep drops to the sea, the other a rather safer inland detour.

New Quay Head and The Wales Coast path in Ceredigion, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think that may be Aberystwyth ahead.

The wind was still very stiff, so I naturally took the more dangerous option passing more wonderfully jointed cliffs before New Quay and its bay (and its caravan sites) appeared.

view over New Quay from near New Quay Head, photographed from The Wales Coast path in Ceredigion by Charles

New Quay and its caravan parks. What more could you want?

New Quay looks better from a distance than it does close to.  It isn’t the best of introductions to find as you descend the path a fish factory sited on the cliff top.

Fish factory below New Quay Head, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The trailer was obviously sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government

The front gardens of the row of houses along the road that leads into town are unlikely to impress Britain in Bloom.

Penbryn_to_New_Quay_-39

And many of its shops and houses could do with a lick of paint.

Penbryn_to_New_Quay_-40

I did, however, in the interests of supporting the local economy, have a great bag of chips from one of the harbourside chippies. I reckoned that we could find the necessary supplies we required of wine (I’d set my sights low) and chocolate, although I wasn’t sure about decent bread and was happy enough with my view over the harbour as I waited for my lift back home to arrive (thank you, Anne).

New Quay Harbour, Ceredigion, photographed by Charles Hawes

Hey, its a nice enough harbour, so I won’t knock it.

I’ll finish on a highlight of the day.

Cardigan Bay, photographed from The wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Clouds casting shadows on the sea near New Quay.

 

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Wareham November 10, 2013 at 9:54 am

Don’t believe Urdd, whatever it may be, is only for Welsh speakers?! Explanation required…

Great post, with sheep. Xx

Reply

John November 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Well, as Charles seems to be suffering from a bout of nolinksthisweekitis, here’s one for Anne: http://www.urdd.org/en/llangrannog/home. That’s the English version; there is a Welsh one if you prefer to click the button. I suddenly feel very old; the camp has changed a lot in the [censored] years since my last stay when the boys slept in large tents, the girls had a snazzy dorm building and staff had creature-infested log cabins with bunk beds. More than once I woke up to see a bat or two hanging above my head.

Castell Bach has more than interesting rock formations, as explained at http://www.ceredigioncoastpath.org.uk/castell_bach.html and http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=18844, the latter site being worth a stroll around if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I’m trying to keep you abreast of all the info, see?

But leaving breasts aside, the old coastguard place has been converted into somewhere from which you can watch the birds and maybe sea creatures too. http://www.cardiganbaysac.org.uk/?p=32

The start of that final stretch of path to New Quay (http://www.newquay-westwales.co.uk/) is definitely not a place to walk abreast. Thanks for the absence of photos of that stretch.

Reply

Charles November 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Well I very much appreciate my under copy writer’s contributions here. It strikes me that I have been rather lazy. Now I will enjoy your links. So was it only Welsh speakers that you were sharing with at Urdd? Or can’t you remember that far back? Do you know anything about a modern building on Castell Bach ? I’m sure I glimpsed one but as you know I seldom leave the Path to explore.

Reply

John November 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm

From about 18 to 28ish I spent 2 weeks at the camp every summer with one week being for Welsh learners (we gave them fun Welsh lessons in the morning) and the other for fluent Welsh speakers. AFAIK, the volunteers that used to do most of the work are no more; it’s all “staff” now. Age range for the summer camps was about 11-15. Now the place has been extensively developed but still caters for Welsh learners and runs a number of bilingual courses. I think it was much more fun before it was done up but Elfin Safety and the insistence on all things modern have dealt the death blow to such exciting times. En suite rooms? The nearest loo to my cabin was at the opposite end of the camp. Bath? There’s a perfectly good sea over them hills!

I know of no significant building near Castell Bach. If there is one, I doubt it was built by the same people. I’ll run some searches around Cwmtydu and see if I can come up with anything. The modern building you saw on Pendinas Lochtyn is an MoD observation post, again not built by the hill fort builders.

But while I’m at it, returning to that un-named bay earlier in the post, you might browse to http://www.llangrannog.org.uk/photo2.htm and have a look at the bottom right photo. Although from a different angle the sloping rock face looks similar, no? If it is the same place, at least you know the name of that rock!

I’m not surprised that you seldom leave the path! From some of your pics, any diversion would seem likely to be fatal.

Reply

John November 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

UPDATE: The only building that I can see that would be visible from Castell Bach is more or less due west of it and using Google Map’s satellite view I think it may be a farmhouse. Good news is that the Llangrannog railway carriage is the only survivor of the original two.

Charles November 11, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Well well! I had no idea that it had been around for that long. Seriously how very nice to have these recollections. Perhaps I was imagining something new on Castell Bach. It was only a glimpse and it does seem strange , but this is Ceredigion, and I wouldn’t put anything past them. Google maps can be quite old. The Veddw pics are way behind what we have done in the garden. Three years at least.

Charles November 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Well that’s what I read on the web – that it is for Welsh speaking Yooth. Glad you like the sheep.

Reply

Neil November 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Nice pics and chat. Smiling sheep, and a splendid ‘jutty out bit’ ( goes well with ‘breast- like’ analogies). Actually looks a very interesting stretch, espescially the new ‘on the edge of the storm’ section…. I’m for a smidgen of taming of wilderness. Using natural stone for steps in The Lakes’, whilst taking away a bit of wildness, does nonetheless contain the erosion of many feet. Appreciate not that argument here, but it doesn’t trouble my consciounce … (Anne, spelling check needed)….

Reply

Anne Wareham November 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I know. Get bored with it.

Reply

Charles November 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Thanks. Thought you might like the breast. Yes, really we are always encountering the taming of our wild places – not least through waymarking routes and putting in stiles etc. This small section just seemed so raw it made me think.

Reply

Paul Steer November 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I Like the colours/tones in the photo of the unknown bay, it is painterly . both my yooth went to a Welsh primary school and both had to endure LLangranog ! They have fond memories.

Reply

Charles November 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Thanks. Always appreciate your keen eye. When you say they had to endure Llangrannog, what do you mean? It seemed like a nice little place.

Reply

bernhard feistel November 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm

It is terrifying to imagine that your wonderful weekly report might stop one day now that Lleyn peninsula is in sight already, although I know….

And I soooooo relate with this feeling about caravan parks, nasty bungalows etc. (And this applies to posh hotels, too.) It happened so often that I was longing for the coast only to withdraw in horror and sometimes think the best bits are inland with the sea somewhere in the distance.
But then these gorgeous, treacherous views, hidden beaches, rock formations. I have a secret(?) theory that the more stunning the landscape the more appalling the (modern) settlements, unfortunately particularly in Wales and Scotland. Perhaps it is the contrast. And I still hope that “good taste” be not necessarily reserved to the well heeled.

In any case, it is so good that your report has the “warts and all”, even though this can be so frustrating for the exhausted walker. Yet, I think with some careful (or even bold) imagination these railway wagons could be brilliantly converted. They don’t need to look like a fully cooked English breakfast.

Reply

Charles November 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Worry ye not. I may not be able to keep up a weekly post – indeed I am sure that I won’t, but I will be continuing the path and there’s a lot more even after Lleyn!
Glad to find a caravan-objecting soul mate. My that’s some imagination, Bernhard, likening a railway carriage to a fully cooked English breakfast! Hoping that there might be less warts once I leave Ceredigion.

Reply

rob grover November 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Hi Charles
I rather like the railway carriage; it has more character than the caravans, but the new roof is awful. At least you can imagine the past life of a railway carriage. Apart from the regimentation of every caravan site, they always seem so devoid of any vegetation, trees or shrubs; I suppose it’s to do with the risk of leaves and twigs disturbing your sleep. Mind you if you’ve got a neighbouring van on either side and at each end of you, you might as well stay on your drive.
I was getting a little queasy imagining your precarious walking along narrow paths, with a long drop on one side and the gusting winds tugging at your rucksack. I hope that Councils don’t pick up on this and start planting ‘ walk at your own risk’ signs. Mind you it’s always great when you inject a bit of drama into your blog; it’s some time since we had a race for the bus incident.
Little chance of catching up with you now; we’ve only got to Pendine and it now looks like a 5 year project with potential accessibility issues later on!

Reply

Charles November 11, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Hi Rob. Yes, the carriages do have more character than the white slabs of the statics and it seems that even so some of their owners are doing their best to ruin that, too. Yes, caravan sites are obsessively tidy places though sometimes I have actually enjoyed the dreadful attempts at garden making around their feet. I completely agree about signs. The fewer the better. Just enough to help you keep to the path and no more. And certainly no warning signs. I’ll try and inject some drama in future. Perhaps a cliff top encounter with an angry caravan owner.

Reply

Lou November 15, 2013 at 8:08 pm

The beach/cove you can’t find a name for is called Traeth Bach, or ‘secret beach’ to some of us who visit it. You can scramble down to it via a choice of two very hairy and scary routes, and considering you like unspoilt, uncut paths, it’s surprising you didn’t try. Once down there are more hidden beaches, coves and caves.

The section you described here is absolutely stunning, and probably the best in Ceredigion, in my opinion. But I’m disappointed you decided to only point out the negatives. You have the relatively un-spoilt Penbryn beach with many hidden caves and ‘mini beaches’ (hint – wait for low tide). Actually, you missed many unspoilt gems that not many people know about, perhaps in your determination to revel in sharing the few bits you didn’t enjoy? 🙂

Whilst I do agree that caravan parks are unpleasant and I detest their sprawl on this coast line, they are mainly confined to Aberporth/Tresaith sections. The Urdd Center is unsightly and not what you expect near such a spectacular section on this 11 miles stretch. But other than that, all you have are the small villages of Llangrannog and Cwmtydu (which is set back from the path) and one or two small, defunct utilitarian buildings, until you arrive at the sprawl of Newquay. That’s it… for 11 whole miles of glorious, breath taking, precipitous coastline.

That said, I do agree with you that there are far too many insensitive ‘developments’ along the coastal path.

Reply

Charles November 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Hi Lou
Thank you very much for identifying the secret beach. I’m not very good at exploring “off path” bits which I am sure is my loss and I will try and not to miss too many opportunities in future. Sometinmes, though I am at the limit of what I feel I can manage just by keeping to the “official” route.

I really don’t think that’s a fair comment aboput me only pointing out the negatives on this section, though. I was much less moany than last week. And besides I really do think that there is very little critical comment about the path – almost none in guide books – and that it is worth at least offering my honest views about what I see. But it doesn’t sound like we are far apart when it comes to caravans. Anyway, I look forward to you making more comment as I progress the path.

Reply

ALUN EVANS June 17, 2014 at 4:37 pm

The unknown beach is “Traeth Bach” beach, nothing fancy just “Little Beach”.I’ve spent time along this coast as well, canoeing and fishing and have seen plenty of porpoise, dolphins and seals, but I had the luxury of plenty of time and opportunity to do so.

Reply

Charles June 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Yes, I guess when you spend much more time in a place then you are more likely to spot its wildlife (I finally saw my first dolphin off the Lleyn Coast last month- to be reported in due course). I did follow the instruction on the van at New Quay and had a bag of chips.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)