The town of Aberaeron, about half-way to New Quay, was another one of those lovely, smile-inducing surprises. I’d been walking along a dull, stony beach with row upon row of caravans to my left when I reached the edge of town. The rather forlorn-looking terraced homes didn’t bode well. But then I reached the harbour and my opinion of Aberaeron did an about-turn… Either side of the mouth of the Afon Aeron are brightly coloured Georgian buildings, the homes of the captains of ships that sailed in and out of this once thriving port.
Suddenly, my pace slowed. I’d been marching for the last couple of miles, but this I wanted to savour. Bars and cafés lined the waterside and the main road through the town. I bought myself a snack, found a bench in the sun, and sat… And then I sat some more.
New Quay, on the Wales Coast Path in Ceredigion
Eventually tearing myself away from this laid-back town, I regained the coast path and continued southwest. The next few miles were typical of the day: spectacular cliff paths divided by occasional lanes, field paths and campsites.
The route crossed many beautiful ravines, including the idyllic, wooded valley of Cwm Clifforch and the Afon Drywl. The latter is a charming spot: the stream comes tumbling down the gorge, the steep sides of which reveal layers of sedimentary rocks uplifted over time. It then plummets over the lip of the cliff, dropping into the sea about 30 metres below.
Before long, the broad, sandy beaches of New Quay appeared ahead – day’s end. The colourful homes of the town itself were stacked up, layer upon layer, hugging the steep slopes leading down to its sparkling bay. I eventually dropped on to the beach. With families playing on the sand or soaking up the sun behind windbreaks, I felt a little overdressed with my rucksack and walking boots. Not wishing to stand out, I removed boots and socks, and walked the last mile or so barefoot through the surf.