The far western coast

Sept 26 – Oct 1, 2022

Sometimes the best times are spur of the moment one’s like the one I had recently when I offered to step in at the last moment after a colleague was injured, to lead a walking holiday based on the western edge of the Welsh Town of Cardigan. Getting there from Berkhamsted took 5-hours, and it has a remote rural feel to it. Our hotel overlooked the Bay opposite Poppit Sands, and it was comfortable and warm. Unfortunately, I had a head cold and this is never ideal when you need to look like you’re on top form. The customers though were a lovely mix of hard-core group walkers and newbies to group walking holidays, and we all got on very well.

The first day we left the hotel at 09:00 on foot, by the time we got to Cardigan for mid-morning coffee we all were lulled into feeling that the walking would be very straightforward, but this changed on route to our lunchtime venue: Cilgerran Castle, where there were lots of ups and downs in the woodlands by the river Teifi. After eleven plus miles we were back in Cardigan with time to explore before taking our bus back to the hotel. Mostly a grey weather day, but great to be out and about somewhere completely new!

Day two of our walk program took us to Newport, that’s Newport village on the west coast not the larger namesake further south off the M4. In terms of variety of walk and weather, this was one of my favourite walks of the year. Within 30 minutes we were on the Moors and heading up to the ancient rocky volcano of Carn Igli, the views back of Newport Sands and the coastline were inspirational. We had fun manoeuvring in between the rocks on the rugged top, and we could clearly see the rain heading for us long before it arrived, but it didn’t last long and soon we were removing our waterproofs. Further on our views expanded beyond so that we could see the town of Fishguard where the Irish ferry was in Port, and then we headed down to our 13:30 lunch stop at the little beach called Cwm Yr Eglwys where the sun beamed at us as the weather changed. The final part of our circular walk took us by some coastline that one usually only sees in picture perfect photography. All in all, an uplifting day for everyone.

Day three was billed as the best walk of the holiday, but how could it get any better? The weather was kind, blue skies and choppy seascapes as we explored the coastline from Cwmtydu all the way to Aberporth. There were many ups and downs in the terrain throughout our third day which resulted in tired soles by the end, but happy souls overall. The day lived up to the billing, and we even saw dolphins and seals! Three great days, but there was a new weather front coming tomorrow…

Each day so far, the changeable weather had been better than expected but the last day was different. It was exactly as forecast with high winds and heavy rain. There is a saying amongst Mountain Leaders of walking on days when the forecast is like this, it goes like this: “some days it’s better to be in a cafe wishing you were on the mountain, than on a mountain wishing you were in a cafe”. This was one of those days, and I changed the plan. We’d had such a good experience up to then, and I didn’t want it spoilt. I looked at the forecast, and the map and planned a morning walk in the lee of the wind and before the heavy rain forecast for after lunch. We explored lots of trails which were off the beaten track from Poppit Sands to St Dogmaels, and we finished our walk before the weather had a chance to get worse in a little café next to an Abbey where the toasted sandwiches and tea were sublime.

There you have it! A great holiday, and a truly brilliant bunch of genuinely lovely walking folk.

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