Blue Flags fly over most of Ceredigion’s most popular beaches again for 2018. Borth is good for swimming and about 35-40 minutes drive away. A prehistoric forest, an eerie landscape including the trunks of hundreds of oaks that died more than 4,500 years ago, was revealed at low tide by the ferocious storms of February 2014 which stripped thousands of tons of sand from beaches in Cardigan Bay. The forest of Borth once stretched for miles on boggy land between Borth and Ynyslas, before climate change and rising sea levels buried it under layers of peat, sand and saltwater. Nearby is Ynyslas which is no good for swimming because of currents but is a dream place for running with sea-loving dogs! It is sandwiched between a long sandy beach in Cardigan Bay and the beach in the Dyfi Estuary. The area between the sea and the estuary beach is made up of the Ynyslas Sand Dunes which are part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve and home to many rare plants and animals. The sands of the estuary beach can be driven onto and parked upon. The nature reserve has a visitor centre with toilets and a small shop. Tresaith is beautiful and not to be missed…well worth the drive but get there early for easier parking. The Afon Saith stream cascades over the cliff edge at the right-hand end of the beach. There’s fabulous rock-pooling as well as a cafe, a bucket-and-spade shop and the Ship Inn which sells decent pub grub and craft beers from the Brains brewery. As you will have read above, Llangrannog Beach is beautiful and rated in the top 50 UK beaches for 2018 by The Sunday Times. Also check out the Beaches.
There are stunning views from the surrounding summits. Red kites and buzzards soar overhead and ravens, peregrines, sparrowhawks, merlins and goshawks may be seen. There are binoculars in Ty Mari and bird books in both cottages. The Ystwyth valley is one of the foremost areas of the country for observing red kites. This large bird of prey was on the verge of extinction before being successfully repopulated in the valley. Whilst the birds may often be seen circling on thermals outside of the cottages, local feeding centres provide opportunities to see the birds at much closer quarters and are particularly popular with children. There are several RSPB Centres in Mid-Wales where lapwings, little egrets, redshanks and white-fronted geese may be seen. If you pop down to Aberystwyth pier as the sun is setting, you will often catch an amazing sight as you look up and see the murmuration of starlings. Wonderopolis says of this: ‘regardless of the size of the murmuration, all the birds seem to be connected to the same network. This phenomenon puzzles scientists, because it goes beyond what we know from biology about how animals behave. The mystery of the murmuration is a fascinating example of a natural phenomenon that hides secrets about the world that scientists have still yet to uncover! Have your video at the ready!
If you want a couple of inspiring books to read on your holiday, these will inform and inspire your birdwatching in Wales:
Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel (Black Swan pub. 2015)
Deep Country by Neil Ansell (Penguin 2012)
Cardigan Bay is the largest Bay in the British Isles, stretching approximately 50 miles from Bardsey Island off the Llyn Peninsular in the north to Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire in the South. Cardigan Bay is home to a rich variety of wildlife including the largest resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the whole of Europe. Although the ever playful bottlenose dolphins which often steal the limelight, Cardigan Bay is also home the smaller harbour porpoise, atlantic grey seals, and a wide variety of bird species.
This has lead to Cardigan Bay’s beautiful coastline being designated as a Special Area of Conservation to help ensure its beauty and its wildlife is safeguarded for generations to come. Have a look at this website and see if it could lead to a memorable day out. We haven’t tried it but they have won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Sarah Bunton is an artisan chocolatier based at Devils Bridge in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales. She strives to create fine chocolates that are both delicious and innovative, taking classic combinations (and exciting new ones) and adding our own special touch! Chocolates are for sale at Y Caban by the station at Devil’s Bridge and for a group of 8 or more she will arrange a chocolate workshop! Call 01970 890650
A lively Anglican church, St Michael’s is on the sea front at Aberystwyth and nearby in South Road SY23 1JF there is a warm welcoming Elim church. The Local church at Hafod, St Michael and All Angels has services in Welsh and English at 1030am on the 1st and 2nd Sunday each month. The church is well worth a visit and is open every day between 1030am and 430pm from Easter to September 30th.
There are so many but among our favourites are Aberdyfi (just fabulous), Aberaeron, New Quay and Llangrannog.
Aberdyfi is a small seaside village nestling on the north side of the Dyfi / Dovey estuary and is a thriving little harbour resort set within the Snowdonia National Park, where the river Dyfi meets the blue waters of Cardigan Bay. Aberdyfi has watersports galore – sailing, sailboarding, rowing, canoeing, fishing and boat trips. In the summer, there are yachting regattas, sailboarding competitions, rowing regattas and other watersports events along with family entertainment on its award-winning beaches.
Aberaeron grew from fishing village to a significant trading port but those days are past. Today the streets are lined with independent shops. There is an annual seafood festival and the yacht club hosts a number of regattas each summer. Nearby Penbryn Beach is one of the best spots in Wales for stargazing and spotting seals. New Quay is a pretty seaside town in Ceredigion, Wales with a resident population of around 1,200 people. Located on Cardigan Bay with a harbour and large sandy beaches, it remains a popular seaside resort and traditional fishing town. Llangrannog’s lovely sandy beach nestles below the cliffs. In the 18th century, salt smuggling was rife in Ceredigion where it was used to preserve bacon and herring. Costing half the price in Ireland, there was a busy illegal trade, evidenced in places such as Ogof yr Halen (meaning Salt Cave) at Llangrannog. Similarly wines and spirits were smuggled, stored and traded in local caves. In the village, Llangrannog’s church is dedicated to Carantoc, the son of a 6th century saint and founder of numerous churches in Wales. The Urdd is the Welsh youth movement and it is the biggest of its kind in Europe. Each year its centre at Llangrannog provides activities for some 20,000 youngsters and features a heritage centre, dry ski-slope, equine centre and climbing wall all open to the public. Take the coast path past Carreg Bica, gob around the ancient hill fort of Pen Dinas Lochtyn and out along the grassy peninsula to get one of the best on-shore dolphin spotting sites in the UK!
Cwt Tatws – Stylish Welsh accessories
Jane Beck Blankets – Welsh blankets and quilts
Seld – Contemporary Welsh gifts and furniture online
The Welsh Heart Company – Welsh tartan hearts, gifts and wedding accessories
Curlew Weavers – There are free tours around the mill (demonstrations by appointment only) and a large craft shop
Srys Melyn Cycling offers a great adventure for all the family with a range of e-bikes for adults and children for hire along with the offer of a delivery and collection service from Welsh Hideaways. They also offer:
- Ride the river Ystwyth from source to sea: This is a 1-day self-guided bike ride, which includes bike hire, a detailed route plan and home-made snacks. They will transfer riders to Cwmystwyth, and meet them at the end of the day in Aberystwyth. This is a leisurely, mainly downhill, ride along quiet roads with stunning scenery.
- Family bike ride – Their Ystwyth Explorers ride follows the river Ystwyth as it winds its way towards the sea. Children will get a chance to learn about the river and its wildlife, practice their bike skills, and enjoy a home-made picnic in the woods.
Cycling is a great way to explore the welsh countryside and many cyclists enjoy the unique character of the Cambrian Mountains. This guide will help you plan your holiday. Natural Resources Wales works in partnership with the cycling community to provide dedicated cycle tracks at many of the most popular locations. Wales as a whole now has over 1000 miles of cycling paths. Due to the relative quiet of travelling on a bike, birds and mammals are often not scared off so quickly. Cycling therefore represents an excellent way to take in the abundant wildlife on offer. There is also a good mountain bike trail near the cottages and mountain biking in the winter can be memorable!