Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, Heavenly Wales

Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire | Vagabond Baking

So I’ll pick up from where I left off in the last post, from Tywyn we headed south, towards Aberystwyth. We crossed the Dyfi Estuary and spent the day at Ynys Hir  an RSPB nature reserve. Fans of the BBC’s Springwatch programme will know it. The reserve can be found on the Dyfi Estuary near Machynlleth and comprises of a variety of habitats. From the visitor centre  walking trails lead off taking you through old woodland, wet grasslands and salt marsh. We packed our binoculars and a picnic and indulged in nature for the day, lots of birds and butterflies.

That night we found a cheap, very basic campsite near Aberystwyth then drove into town the following day. We thought we’d find a nice little cafe, have some coffee and cake while catching up with some WiFi. This proved harder than we thought, I ended up perched on a chair in the tourist information centre, no coffee, no cake!

> Click on a photograph to open the gallery

Aberystwyth was lovely to walk around though, the sun came out and we took a stroll along the promenade to the castle. Aberystwyth castle dates from the thirteenth century and the ruins which stand on Castle Hill are free to wander though. A great spot to stand and look out over the ocean.

On our drive south later that morning I diverted our route via Pentre Ifan, a neolithic burial chamber near Nevern, Pembrokeshire. We had our picnic lunch in view of this marvellous monument. The earthworks around the stones have vanished over the five thousand years since it was constructed leaving just the poised stones you see today. The massive capstone appears to float, daintily balanced on the standing stones below it.

Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire | Vagabond Baking

We arrived in St Davids mid afternoon and flukily managed to grab a pitch on the super popular Caerfai Farm campsite, despite a sign saying the sight was fully booked. It pays to ask! The site opened out directly onto the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and down to a secluded cove, it also had a little shop selling the farm’s own organic cheeses. Heaven, their Caerphilly cheese was superb.

The coastal path was stunning, we walked round to Porth Clais, a 12th century harbour, passing the pretty yet modern St Nons chapel. The chapel stands near the site of a much older chapel and legend has it as the birthplace of St David. It was really cute inside, and had a lovely William Morris School stained glass window.

Another day we walked the opposite direction along the coastal path, to Solva, a pretty village in a sheltered harbour and caught the bus back.

St Davids is the smallest city in Britain, named after the patron saint of Wales who founded a monastery there in the 6th Century. It was said that two pilgrimages to St Davids was equal to one to Rome, such was the religious importance to the site. The current city {it’s really just a tiny town} which stands on the St Davids peninsula, has a lovely village-y feel. In the centre of town is a medieval stone cross from where you can walk down the hill to the Cathedral, set behind a high wall. We walked into town from the campsite, a short ten minute stroll and reached the cathedral in the late afternoon. Inside the cathedral is both grand and quirky, the roof is beautifully carved. Across from the cathedral, over a small river are the ruins of the 14th Century Bishop’s Palace, with interesting architectural details.

We completely fell in love with the St Davids area, the combination of stunning, accessible coastline combined with a wonderful laid-back feel to the place made it somewhere we could have lingered longer.

On a particularly sunny day during our time on the St Davids peninsular we took a boat from the St Justinians RNLI Lifeboat station to Ramsey Island, after a fun ride on the local Celtic Coaster bus from St Davids. The island is just a kilometre off the mainland and is owned and managed by the RSPB. An important grey seal breeding site and abundant with birds and other wildlife. We took the 12pm boat across and the four hours we had until the return boat was more than enough to walk around the island on the marked trails. The views from around the island were just superb, it had rained heavily overnight clearing the atmosphere, leaving us with clear vistas. We saw some great birds, the highlights being a number of chough flocks and a few ravens {I love corvids} as well as one gannet, a couple of peregrine falcons and some stonechats. There were many butterflies too. We took a small picnic and found a beautiful spot to take a break, my sticky and sweet energy treats were perfect to keep us on the go.

Our final few days in Wales were spent near Fishguard, I have wonderful relatives who live very near to Dinas head, many a childhood summer holiday was spent here. Another farm campsite, this time on the headland with lovely views along the coast was our base. A walk back down the farm track brought us out to the beach at Pwllgwaelod where there is a little pub and a footpath with cuts across the narrow base of Dinas head to the opposite side beach at Cwm-Yr-Eglwys a mile away. This pretty cove is perfect for a swim in the sea and its name translates as Valley of the Church. The church in question, St Brynachs, was mostly destroyed by a severe storm in the 19th Century, all that remains is the belfry wall making it a quaint, memorable place.

We met up with my brother and his family here, we had planned the trip to scatter our father’s ashes nearby. We did this the following morning and spent the rest of the day catching up with the local relatives and paddling in the sea at the even prettier, more secluded Aberfforest beach.

I have completely fallen back in love with Wales, it was wonderful to relive some childhood memories and it is just as marvellous as I remember it!

Links

RSPB Ynys Hir

Pentre Ifan

Caerfai Farm Camping

St Davids

St Davids Cathedral

Ramsey Island

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By Rachel Davis

5 Responses

  1. Dave Rowley says:

    Wales looks absolutely fantastic! I love all your pics of the wild-looking coastline. And I love the stone circles – the capstones really do look like they’re floating. How long were you in Wales? Seems like you did a lot in your time there…

    • We were there for 10 days, top to bottom around the coast. Poor little Juan the van found it a bit too hilly for him so it was a slow trip but glorious anyway! We moved on day after day, apart from the last two places where we had two nights each. Wales isn’t exotic like Morocco but it’s beautiful 😉

  2. Fantastic! Glad you liked Aberystwyth – my home town. Was there last week actually :). It’s a lovely place in the sun! So strange seeing all of these places I know showing up in my reader. I’ve played concerts at St Davids etc – Pembrokeshire is great.

    • Wow, I could have met you then! I know it a bit, one of my old friends lives there and I absolutely adore the Malcolm Price books set in the town.
      Glad the pictures of the places filled you with joy 🙂

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