OM Orchid Meadows. 1 Tregaron. 2 Aberystwyth. 3 Aberaeron. 4 New Quay. 5 Cwmtydu. 6 Llangrannog.
Tregaron is an ancient market town that sits astride the River Brenig, a tributary of the renowned Teifi. Strictly speaking we should be saying “Mae Tregaron yn dref farchnad hynafol sy'n eistedd ar hyd Afon Brenig, un o lednentydd y Teifi enwog” because most people in the town speak Welsh and the simple and attractive layout of buildings around the central square somehow seems to ooze Welsh tradition and history. If you don’t speak Welsh though, don’t worry: people here are extremely friendly and will happily speak English to you all day.
The square is dominated by a statue of Henry Richard, a congregational minister and Welsh Member of Parliament between 1868 and 1888. He was a strong voice for peace, international arbitration and the end of slavery and was known as the Apostle of Peace.
To call Tregaron a town is technically correct but it has more of a size and feel of a village. It will easily meet most of your needs during your stay at Orchid Meadows and has take-aways, several cafés, two mini-markets, two butcher's, a chemist, an artisan baker’s, a grand old inn and a doctor's surgery (which we hope you will not need). It even hosts an annual rock festival and in 2022 the national Welsh music, arts and culture festival - the Eisteddfod - took place here.
There is a small community museum - the Red Kite Centre - and a must-visit is the Welsh Gold Centre where Rhiannon makes fine, and very expensive, gold jewellery. You can watch her working, browse the gold rings or take in the broader arts centre behind. Gold has been mined in Wales since Roman times and most recently in the 1980s. Rhiannon holds much of the remaining stock of true Welsh gold.
Worth special mention is the Riverbank Café just outside the town on the road to Lampeter. It has a great menu with friendly service and a Welsh produce shop attached.
To many, it is an attractive seaside resort but to the people of Ceredigion, Aberystwyth is the big city. As the only sizeable settlement in this part of western Wales, it contains everything. There is railway station here, banks, supermarkets, an A&E hospital, a university, the National Library of Wales and lots of shops selling all the things you need to survive in the modern world.
It is also a great place for leisure visits with two beaches – North Beach and South Beach – a long promenade, a pier, a castle, a marina, fish and chip shops and so on. Sitting high above it all is Constitution Hill, scaled by the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway. At the top there are panoramic views and other attractions, including a camera obscura. For those who do not know what one of these is, which included ourselves when we moved here, a camera obscura derives from the Latin for “dark chamber” and means “a darkened room with a small hole or lens at one side through which an image is projected onto a wall or table opposite the hole”. Aberystwyth is also the starting point of the Vale of Rheidol Steam Railway, which runs to Devil’s Bridge.
And let us not forget the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, which plays host to an eclectic mix of films, theatre, comedy, music, talks and much more. During your stay at Orchid Meadows it could provide a great night out.
Aberaeron is actually the county town of Ceredigion but is a lovely, small seaside destination of only around 1400 inhabitants. Its history does not go very far back: in 1800 there was no significant settlement here at all. The town was planned and developed from 1805 by the Rev Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne. He built a harbour, which operated as a port and supported a ship-building industry in the 19th century.
The main thing about Aberaeron is its stunning architecture and it is well worth a visit for this reason alone. Unusually for this part of Wales, it is made up of rows and squares of elegant Regency-style buildings, often painted in a range of bright colours. This was largely the influence of Edward Haycock, an architect from Shrewsbury. There are 248 Listed Buildings in the Aberaeron community, most in the town itself.
The beach here is largely shingle but there are good facilities in the town and you can buy fresh fish from the quayside.
New Quay was once a flourishing ship-building centre and fishing port. The miles of secluded coves around the town also provided ideal hiding places in the less salubrious, but probably more profitable, trade of smuggling spirits and tobacco. Today small local fishing and pleasure craft still come and go in the sheltered bay.
New Quay is not to be confused with its noisy Cornish cousin, Newquay. But if the number of static caravans sited near here is anything to go by, it is a top destination for summer holidays and it is easy to see why. New Quay’s beaches extend in a golden arc around the bay, the quay is often the perfect spot for dolphin watching, there is a marine life centre and lifeboat station and the choice of eateries is broad. At the head of the quay, the Lime Crab offers huge portions of the best fish and chips you’re likely to find in Wales and you can enjoy them watching the world go by from seats at the far end of the quay.
You can buy seaside postcards, buckets and spades and everything in between. You can take a boat trip for wildlife watching. But there are some surprises too: see if you can find the basement guitar shop with its retro metal band T-shirt collection!
If you want to see the Ceredigion coastline at its best, then you should head for Cwmtydu. It is a tiny village but surrounded by big scenery. The ups and downs of the coastal path offer breath-taking, literally too, walking with unsurpassed views and a chance to see sea life, birds such as choughs and a fine array of wild flowers.
To the north is the quaint old church of St Tysilio, steep woodland-lined ravines carrying pathways and splashing streams and the little-known cove of Cwm Silio with its sheltered beach and sea caves. To the south the coast path rises to dizzying heights and leads towards Llangrannog, all the way with sky-high views of Cardigan Bay.
The village itself has a car park, toilets and a café.
Llangrannog is approached along a narrow valley – sometimes more a ravine – through which the River Hawen hurls itself on its way to the sea. The sandy Blue Flag beach here draws many in the summer months and in terms of a pretty seaside village with all the facilities you might need, you would struggle to do better. It is picture-postcard, although you only get the best views of it from the sea or high on the cliff path. In the village you will find two pubs - the Ship Inn and the Pentre Arms - plus cafés and a general store.
From the coast path you might spot bottlenose dolphins putting on a display out in Cardigan Bay and a short walk brings you to the Ynys Lochtyn headland. Much photographed, this rocky, grass-topped headland jutting out into the bay is an extraordinary spot from which to enjoy the full sweep of the Cardigan Bay coastline. Overlooking the headland is the rounded hill of Pen Dinas Llochtyn, which was occupied in the Iron Age around 500BC. Pen Dinas Lloctyn was a well-defended fort and an important settlement, underlined by the name dinas (city) rather than caer (fort).