After revisiting the past it was time to try something new. Annelie had found a group on the web called “The Ramblers UK,” that organizes walking holidays, both in the UK and abroad. After looking at a description of the tours available, we had agreed on 4 days on the coast of Wales.
And so, off the 3 of us went. Once again borrowing Ron’s car, we skirted “Brecon Beacons National Park” on our way to Cardigan, Wales, and a little hamlet on the edge of the sea with the oh-so-quintessentially Welsh name of “Gwbert.” There’s really not a lot more to Gwbert than a few homes perched on a headland above the sea, and the rambling, white-clapboard buildings of the Cliff Hotel.
The Cliff Hotel, which was to be our home for the next few nights, is a ramshackle old building built up on a cliff with a stunning view of the Irish Sea and the mouth of the River Teifi. The Hilton it’s not – it’s worn down and a bit tattered around the edges – but it was clean and comfortable and made a good jumping off point for the next 4 days of walking the Welsh Coast.
And what a coast it is. Spectacular cliffs give way to secluded coves. Bracken covered hills look out of blue sea stretching to the horizon. We were lucky in that the weather, for the most part, was good. We ran into a few afternoon showers on one or two days that gave us an excuse to break out and try our “waterproofs” but for the most part you couldn’t complain.
Our first walk took us not along the coast but inland along the River Teifi. Walking in Wales is different from hiking in the US. In the US most hiking trails are situated in wilderness areas, or parks, or areas that are reserved for recreation and are in some way “wild.” In Wales (and, I take it, much of the UK), walking trails are integrated into the land itself, and the communities they go through. Some of the trails have existed for centuries, and evolved along public footpaths which have been there for as long as anyone can remember. Due to public right of way laws, they may go through people’s backyards, farmers pastures, you name it – and the landowner has an obligation to keep that path open and available to the public.
So, tramping through what seems like a backyard, or a cow or sheep pasture, is all in a day’s walk.
The day after the River Teifi we spent a day walking from Pembrokeshire, on a hillside up above the coast, to an area of the coast called Dinas Head, and the small town called “Cwm-yr-Eglwys” – say that 3 times fast. Heck, just figure out how to say it once and you’re doing better than I. Located there is the ruins of Saint Brynach Church, which was destroyed by a storm in 1859.
Day 3 found us north of Cardigan, tramping from Aberporth to Penbryn and then on to LLangrannog. The day started out sunny with a just a few clouds, but by the time we finished walking that afternoon it had clouded over. A passing shower gave us a chance to try out our wet weather gear = well, it wouldn’t have been much of a trip to Wales if we hadn’t gotten rained on at least once, now would it ?
Our 4th and final day took us north of Cardigan again, I *think* this time from Aberporth south towards Cardigan. I have to admit at this point my notes are sketchy, and the pictures not much help in figuring out exactly where we were. I do remember it being a lovely day, and some of the coastal scenery being some of the most spectacular we’d seen to date. Though, come to think about it, I believe I thought that about each day preceding.
Spectacular scenery not withstanding, this was our 4th day in a row of roughly 10 mile walks each day, usually with quite a bit of up-and-down along the way. I was definitely dragging by the end of the day, as I think the rest of our party was.
The next day we packd up and headed back to Hereford, to return Ron’s 3-hub-capped car. We skirted Brecon Beacons once again, this time coming across a small railroad station with a steam locomotive still plying the tracks. This made a lovely place for a cuppa and break, after which we made good time back to Hereford.