A man is putting signs up on Cwmtydu beach. There is a seal pup here, so you must stay away and keep your dog on a lead. The prospect of a seal pup may explain why so many cars are parked along the sea front. Sadly, there is no sign of the pup, nor its mother, this morning.
The path up from the beach is eroded, with large gaps where there once might have been steps. It’s quite a scramble. Dauntingly difficult. And, as a result, the path at the top of the cliff is empty.
I’m glad of the peace and quiet, having endured a convoluted and stressful journey before I could start my walk today.
[Having parked at my intended destination – Aberporth – I caught two buses to get back here to Cwmtydu. A regular bus took me to New Quay, where I switched to the very-irregular coastal bus. Its driver was in a foul mood yesterday because the vehicle had a fuel-pump problem and would only shudder up hills in first gear. Today she had a different bus, but it was ancient and difficult to drive. And so she remained in a foul mood.]
At times like this I miss the taxi-service provided by my extremely patient husband! But my transport difficulties are soon forgotten. The sun is shining. The view is wonderful. And I am hopeful I might see dolphins again.
The OS map is sparse with names along this stretch of coast. Either the geological features are nameless or, for some reason, the map-makers have chosen not to include them. Or perhaps this coastline is the OS equivalent of the ‘Here there be dragons!’ on ancient maps, signifying the area is as yet uncharted.
I walk along the top of the cliffs, pass by the irregular contours of an ancient hill fort, and come to a beautiful beach set in a valley where a solitary woman is walking with her dog. I wonder where she came from, as there is no road nearby.
The path crosses the stream in the bottom of the valley, and then climbs up the other side.
The next section of the coast is beautiful. I see a few other walkers in the distance, but meet nobody. A boat passes below and seems to be looking for dolphins. I keep a watch out – dolphins often come to the surface near boats – but I can’t see any.
I’m approaching a high cliff, and all this land is part of a nature reserve owned by the National Trust, called Craig Yr Adar.
On the cliff is a lookout station, a good place for dolphin-watching, apparently. I don’t have time to stay here long, but I do have time to sit down for a quick drink and a snack. Sadly, no dolphins appear.
Beyond here the path splits. You can choose the narrow trail that heads around the edge of the cliff, or the wider alternative route that cuts across the top. Which did I choose?
The narrow cliff trail, of course! It wasn’t particularly difficult, and I’m soon back on the main track.
From this high cliff you can see all around Cardigan Bay – all the way to the Lleyn Peninsula on a clear day – including the peaks of Cader Idris and Snowdon. I can see several mountains in the distance, but am not sure what I’m looking at.
The wide vista gives me a familiar thrill of excitement. Soon I will be round this headland and will reach New Quay. From there, Aberaeron and, in a few days, Aberystwyth.
I feel both impatient to make further progress, and yet reluctant to hurry. The Ceredigion Coast Path is just as good as the Pembrokeshire Path. Maybe it’s even better. The scenery is stunning.
And today the weather is beautiful. Calm and warm. It’s unusual to see many butterflies in September, but there are several fluttering about on the path.
This one is a Red Admiral. It stays still long enough for a photograph, posing nicely on a blackberry bush.
Soon I’m rounding the headland and looking down onto New Quay. It looks inviting in the sunshine. Time for lunch.
Actually, lunch in New Quay turns out to be rather disappointing. I find a promising café and order Welsh cawl. But the soup is surprisingly watery, is made with ham (I think) rather than lamb, and tastes suspiciously like a packet mix. Shame.
After eating, I walk down to the harbour quayside. It’s busy with tourists.
And then make my way along the beach. This is lovely, with a wide swathe of shining sand and the constant swish of waves.
At the end of the beach, the path turns inland and I follow quiet roads, climbing upwards.
The route is reasonably well signed, but is clearly cobbled together, and I do get lost a couple of times. I’m now high above the sea again, but separated from the coast by a holiday camp and private housing. I walk along the edge of fields…
… through shady woodland..
… and pass interesting diversions to the main trail. (This one on the left, below, heads down towards the sea in a promising fashion, but turns out to be a dead-end.) Onwards…
… passing through a serene patch of woodland…
… before eventually emerging onto open land above the sea.
And from here the trail continues to hug the coast, rising and falling with the contours of the land, leading me onwards to Aberaeron.
Sometimes the path dips down into valleys. At the bottom of one is a shady stream and waterfall – but with too many shadows for decent photography. Sometimes I walk across fields. This one contains horses.
Occasionally there is a diversion inland to avoid private property. In this case, a holiday village, which looks tired and deserted.
And then I am back on the gentle slopes above the sea, walking on grass and surrounded by fiery bracken, with the colours of the landscape almost painfully bright in the light of the afternoon sun.
Just before the crest of the hill (above) I realise I must be approaching Aberaeron. I can hear an unfamiliar noise – the rush of traffic on a road. So I stop and admire the views, looking over the glassy sea and hoping to spot a dolphin.
A flash of grey raises my hopes, but it soon disappears beneath the waves. Was it a dolphin? Or a seal? I don’t know and I can’t catch sight of it again.
Onwards. The sun is getting low and I don’t want to be caught in the dark.
Over the crest of the hill is Aberaeron. It lacks the beauty of New Quay – when seen from this distance – and I walk slowly down towards it, trying to eke out the last few sunny minutes of this wonderful day.
I meet some gentlemen out dog-walking. They stop for a chat. We agree the weather is beautiful. As I mentioned before, everybody I meet in Wales is usually very friendly. (My bus driver was the one exception.)
Closer up, Aberaeron looks better than it did from a distance. The houses around the little harbour are very attractive.
And there is a prosperous feel to the place. Nice restaurants and pubs. A crowded marina.
I walk to the bridge and cross over, entering the heart of the town. After a welcome meal in a pub (chicken and salad – I’m sticking to my diet!) I find my car and drive the short distance to the seafront car park.
The sunset is magnificent. And the colours stay in the sky for ever.
Last night was the night of the blood moon, a combined supermoon and total eclipse. I saw the huge moon, but managed to sleep through the eclipse. Although I was disappointed to miss the event, today’s wonderful sunset makes up for it.
Miles walked today: 10 miles
Total along Wales Coast Path = 553 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,160 miles