a dramatic, lonely and extreamely worthwhile coastal path walk
My family and I have very different view’s on camping. Give me a bivvy bag, a three season minimum sleeping bag, the means to make a fire, and adequate company as I am ashamed to admit on all my wanderings I have never learnt to read a map. My family on the other hand has adopted this new wave of “glamping” as their preferred escape into nature. All the modern conveniences and comforts we have become accustomed to placed in a beautiful scenic landscape. The location of choice for this latest trip that I have somehow find myself apart of is Glan Y Mor on the Mid Wales coast. The saving grace for me will be leaving the family in the early hours of the morning to explore the Ceredigion coastal path.
It’s 6am. The sun is starting to fill the sky giving the illusion of warmth but the chill in the wind is sharp enough to cut glass. Needing both sunglasses and a down layer under shell, I quietly pack my bag, make a flask of coffee and sneak out of the little cabin. A few key things I always pack for a hike are my kuksa; a gift from Finland that gives port particularly a finer taste. A foil blanket for emergency, along with a knife, some basic first aid and waterproof matches, a poncho with eyelets that can easily become a tarpaulin with para-cord, and a few extra base layers for warmth. I’m aware a map and compass should also be in my basic pack but neither would assist me; this is a skill I do plan to acquire at some point though rest assured.
The Ceredigion coastal path passes directly through Aberystwyth, it is a 60-mile route from Cardigan in the south of the county to Ynyslas in the north. Glan Y Mor is my starting point which is in Clarach; Clarach to Borth being a challenging yet popular section of Heritage Coast, Borth to Ynys-las by contrast is a much easier flat path. If any true ramblers come across this post all I can do is apologize for the lack of technical information, I can only state that I am not a rambler, I am a wanderer. I was not looking for an extensive walk that day and so did not do the full route, I headed in the direction of Llanrhystud, the appeal being the promise from the official website for the Ceredigion Coastal Path that it will be a “dramatic, lonely and extremely worthwhile” experience.
I love to wander with only the company of wildlife, kestrels and ravens haunt the sky and below glimpses of seals and dolphins can be caught by those in tune with the sounds of disturbed waters. I can spot a solitary fishing boat in the distance, other than that there is no other sign of human presence.
The initial climb to the cliff top awakens the muscles of my thighs, fortunately every ascension I have encountered has been rewarded with views that far out way the burning heat that promises a lasting ache; this time is no exception. The weather was perfect that morning, the cold wind fierce and fresh carrying the scent of salt, the sun giving life to all the greens and blues you find on a country coastal path. The path is quite varied, some areas provide a clear walking route until you come across areas of erosion and vertical drops that require scrambling down. For my rest stops I chose to test the integrity of the cliffs edges and hang my feet over, pouring my coffee into my kuksa and feeling quite content. The combination of the wind and wooden drinking vessel means little time can be spent taking in the scenery if I wish to drink my coffee hot, and so I continued on, pausing for photographs and to admire the ravens appearing like shadows out of the cliffs.
The first sign of human habitation comes at the crossing of a beautiful white farm house that sits on the cliff and over looks the ocean. I feel almost like an intruder as I stumble over a little bridge to continue on the path ahead. There are occasional entry points spotted where I can descend to the pebble beach below. The waters are like ice and threaten to close in if I linger here to long. The ocean has an exceptional ability in claiming its territory, ensuring you are aware that you don’t belong between its waves and cliffs.
To avoid being swallowed by waves I scramble back to the cliff top and continue walking. I took my last coffee break on the boarder to Borth. Albeit a beautiful town, I had no desire to be social with anyone but the ravens. The sun had began to gain strength and I would have to pack a few of my layers into my day sack for the return, wanting to continue walking over taking the bus back to Aberystwyth which is then only a short walk to Clarach. I decided to pass the camp site which now showed signs of life and take in the view of Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill; it seemed wasteful to neglect a descent to the beach and walk the pier that passes the ruined castle and ends the path. True ramblers must be thinking what a ridiculous route to go one way, turn back on yourself to go another and turn back again to your original destination; nothing of this landscape with it’s views can be considered wasteful though.
Now reacquainted with civilization again it came the time to rejoin my family and continue the day in a more social setting. There is always a slight hesitation to leave a rural landscapes in exchange for towns or city life but, until next time. I often wander where the future will see me roaming, although I want my legs to carry me to many oceans and mountains, there is a reason Wales is home.