Thursday 31 March 2016
Aberporth to Cardigan
Highbury Guest House
Another sunny day was promised so I put my shorts on. Naturally this put me at quite a juxtaposition with most other people I saw all day who were wrapped up in hats and coats. My cold, goose pimples skin enjoyed the extra dose of vitamin D.
My first big Welsh breakfast this morning to set me off. I caught the bus back to Aberporth, which meant missing out 5 miles from Llangrannog. There were a few bonuses to this: 1) I can get a bus rather than a taxi, 2) some walkers I met advised me the section between Penbryn and Tresaith is the muddiest bit, 3) hopefully I’ll reach Cardigan early enough to do a bit of sightseeing.
Aberporth beach was sandy and deserted. The town was very quiet. I realised that it hadn’t woken up yet when I ascended the steep hill up to MOD Aberporth; I saw several ladies putting their rubbish out, all in dressing gowns (it was almost 10 am!).
MOD Aberporth is used by QinetiQ to test Unmanned Aerial Systems and air launched munitions. I skirted around it and headed into the cliff top. It reminded me of Durham, bisected by lots of small, steep gulleys with clear streams. Good job I like ups and downs!
The conical hill, Foel-y-Mwnt, sticks out like a beacon. It was shaped by an ice age glacier and demands to be climbed. From the top I got the best view of Cardigan Island. I couldn’t see any of the dummy puffins that have been put on Cardigan Island to try and entice real ones back to nest. The population was wiped out by a plague of rats accidentally introduced by a shipwreck.
At the base of Foel-y-Mwnt is the pretty little Church of the Holy Cross. A tiny 13th Century building at the start point for pilgrims embarking for Bardsey Island from Mwnt beach.
I stopped for a quick instant coffee at Mwnt beach hut (the owner was also wearing shorts). Then it was around the corner at the mouth of the Aber Teifi. Gwbert sits right at the entrance to the river, looking across at Poppit Sands. There were a few big houses here.
As I approached Cardigan (otherwise known as Aberteifi) I passed a sewage treatment works. Nothing unusual about that; however, just below it, hidden in the trees by the water’s edge, was a camp. This was clearly someone’s permanent home as I could see a chimney emanating from the tarpaulin, washing on a line and even a swing seat made from crates. I found the path down to it, marked by a hand rope tied to the trees. I started to walk down but a man emerged from the tent and I suddenly felt like I was trespassing. I doubt he pays council tax.
I made it to Cardigan in time to take a look around the castle. Cardigan has an important place in Welsh history as for many years it was on the threshold between Welsh and English kingdoms. The first stone castle was built by Rhys Ap Gruffydd, Prince of Deheubarth, around 1165. He united some of the Welsh kingdoms and made Cardigan the centre of his court. The town seems most proud of the fact that, under Rhys, it was the birthplace of the Eisteddfod in 1176.
Cardigan was ruled by the English for many years (the castle was sold to the English when Rhys died) but it seems very Welsh now. There’s not much of the castle left, indeed there’s a house in the middle of it.
I wandered up the high street and, on the recommendation of the nice lady in the castle, I headed into Pendre Art shop. Here, tucked in the back room, is a giant cardigan knitted by the townspeople to mark the 900th anniversary of Cardigan. What a brilliant idea.
I had an early dinner of delicious homemade pea, egg and ham pie in a cafe and headed back to my guest house for an early night.