This month’s escape is contributed by Ashleigh Stevens, founder of POB Shop, which offers a selection of stylish Welsh language gifts, alongside original products from around the British Isles. We visit Ceredigion and Ashleigh shares her tips on the best places to shop, eat, stay and visit in her home county
Where in Britain is it?
Ceredigion county is located on the central west coast of Wales – a wide horseshoe shaped bay sheltered from the east by the Cambrian Mountains and bounded to the south by the Teifi River (pictured below right), famous for its salmon and sewin fishing. To the north the Dyfi Valley biosphere is an area recognised by UNESCO for its natural beauty, heritage and wildlife.
Why should I visit?
It’s a fantastic area for walking, partiacularly the coast patah, 60 miles stretching from the historic town of Cardigan (Aberteifi in Welsh) to the sand dunes of Ynyslas, overlooking the Dyfi estuary. Along the route there are quiet sandy beaches like Penbryn,Llangrannog and Borth, seabird populated cliffs and plenty of vantage points to spot grey seals, porpoises and dolphins. A waterfall tumbles over the cliff onto the beach at Tresaith, while Aberaeron (pictured above left) has colourful Georgian houses around the harbour. Inland there’s a network of cycle and bridle paths, and I love to ride out on horseback on the Cambrian mountains, following monks and drovers routes.
Where can I find interesting local products to buy?
Just up the road in Tregaron is Rhiannon’s Welsh Gold Centre. Welsh gold is traditionally used to make wedding rings for the Royal Family, and Rhiannon creates jewellery inspired by the local landscape and ancient celtic myths (below left). Lovespoons are a traditional lovers token and you can buy handcrafted examples at Ceredigion Craft Makers Fairs locally. We also sell a large selecton of Welsh language and locally made products at POB Shop such as the ‘Gwlad’ linen cushion below.
Where can I eat locally sourced food?
Cardigan Bay lobster, mackerel, sea bass and sewin is served, depending on the season, in pubs and restaurants along the coast, such as The Ship at Llangrannog (pictured), The Harbourmaster at Aberaeron and Gwesty Cymru on the Promenade in Aberystwyth. There’s nothing better for warming yourself up after a winter’s walk than a bowl of homemade ‘cawl’, usually served with bread and a hunk of Teifi cheese, or a generous steak or delicate lamb cutlets at a village pub like the Ffarmers at Llanfihangel y Creuddyn or The Talbot in Tregaron.
Can I stay somewhere with a bit of character?
A bit further afield over the border into rural Camarthenshire is The Welsh House (above and below). Actually it’s a collection of beautiful, super stylish self catering cottages loved by magazines and visitors alike. Definitely well worth checking out.
What should I see, do or visit while I’m there?
Join a dolphin spotting boat trip from New Quay, or see Red Kites swoop down at feeding time at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. The views from the Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway are stunning – it winds up the valley to Devil’s Bridge where you can visit the legendary three tiered bridge and waterfalls, hidden away in an ancient oak woodland.
The National Woollen Museum (below right) in Drefach Felindre is fascinating, as is the John Nash designed house at Llanerchaeron, which is a traditional working farm, with a walled garden and tearoom. At nearby Lampeter, the the Jen Jones Quilt Centre (below left) has an exhibition of traditional Welsh and American quilts, as well as regular craft courses.
The Aberaeron Fish Seafood Festival, held on the quayside in early July is a must for local foodies. Or to get up close to the magnificent Welsh Cob horses, join the throng at Cardigan’s Barley Saturday parade of horses and vintage vehicles.
Aberystwyth is a vibrant university town, and its Arts Centre is a hive of activity. Events here include art exhibitions, theatre, concerts as well as arts courses and workshops. The nearby National Library of Wales not only has manuscripts but a collection of art, and other material that tell the story of a nation and its people.
When is the best time of year to go?
Right now! The colours of May are beautiful – the hedgerows are full of bright spring flowers, bluebell woods and yellow gorse clad hillsides, as well as the different greens and blues of the woods and the sea. Winter is quite mild too, and the inland bogs are surprisingly beautiful with hues of brown and red.
For more information about visiting Ceredigion and the surrounding area, take a look at http://www.tourism.ceredigion.gov.uk/saesneg/index.htm