One of the last bastions of the Welsh language and culture, Ceredigion offers award-winning beaches and a network of spectacular walking, cycling and mountain biking routes together with a plethora of opportunities for angling in Cardigan Bay, on rivers, in lakes and fisheries.
Many Ceredigion routes inland follow a "cwm" or river valley, each with its own charm and spectacular scenery. The AA described the B4574 through Cwm Ystwyth as one of "the Ten Most Scenic Drives in the World". In Cwm Ystwyth and Cwm Rheidol miners once extracted silver - for a Royal Mint at Aberystwyth - and lead, as Llywernog's Silver-Lead Mine Museum explains. A steam railway climbs through Cwm Rheidol to Devil's Bridge from Aberystwyth through wonderful walking country.
Bay is an outstanding and internationally important area for marine wildlife. A candidate Special Area of Conservation, it was the UK's first Marine Heritage Coast, sheltering some of Britain's rarest birds and marine species and home to a resident population of some 130 bottlenose dolphins as well as porpoise and grey seals.
The beautiful coastline is dotted with villages, small ports and harbour towns all with a rich seafaring history. Beyond the golden beaches of Mwnt, Aberporth, Tresaith, Penbryn and Llangrannog, New Quay offers yet more sandy beaches, sailing and a new watersports centre.
Towns and Villages
Cardigan, New Quay, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth all offer interesting historical Town Trails. Here, and at Tregaron, Lampeter and Llandysul, you will find a surprising selection of sports, leisure and recreation facilities.
Harness racing is a regular feature in towns and villages throughout Ceredigion during the summer months with the Tregaron Trotting Club Harness Races rated amongst Wales's most popular rural grasstrack meetings. The coastal town of New Quay was home to Dylan Thomas during his most productive writing period. There are Dylan Thomas trails to be followed around those Ceredigion localities dearest to Dylan.
From spectacular coastal walks along the Ceredigion Coast Path affording sightings of dolphins, seals, porpoise and marine birds; through the lush green river valleys of the Teifi, Aeron, Ystwyth and Rheidol; to the heathered uplands and forests of the Cambrian Mountains where red kites and buzzards soar majestically above - the panoply of walking opportunities on offer is hard to better.
The Ceredigion Coast Path
The Ceredigion Coast Path forms an exciting new 60 mile link between two National Trails of Wales. Heading northward from Cardigan - the junction with the Pembrokeshire Coast Path - the Ceredigion Coast Path extends to the Dyfi Estuary National Nature Reserve at Ynyslas, a stone's throw from Glyndwr's Way. The Ceredigion Coast Path crosses Heritage Coastline and National Trust lands, looking out over the UK's first Marine Heritage Coast and the Cardigan Bay candidate Special Area of Conservation.
Coast and Countryside Walks and Talks
The Ceredigion Coast and Countryside Unit presents an annual series of public walks and talks, which give an opportunity to explore the wealth of Ceredigion's natural history and heritage.
The 2004 programme includes:
Llangrannog (25 April),
Teif Valley Walk (9 May)
Dolphin Watch (17 June)
Aberystwyth to Llanrhystud (3 July)
Pen Dinas Hill Fort (12 Aug)
Llangrannog to Penbryn (26 Sept)
Ceredigion offers an ever-expanding range of opportunities and facilities for cycling. For the road cyclist, the area has a range of scenic routes in some of the UK's finest coast and countryside landscapes - landscapes that change dramatically with each season of the year. For mountain bike enthusiasts, there are spectacular wilderness trails and technically challenging routes set high in the splendour of the Cambrian Mountains.
Mountain Trail Biking
One of the world class Mountain Bike Wales centres is located at the Bwlch Nant Yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre, located on the A44 east of Aberystwyth in the Cambrian Mountains. Bwlch Nant Yr Arian provides over 35km of mountain trail bike routes offering a world-class experience. The centre also provides two scenic walks with breathtaking views, refreshments, red kite feeding and an all-ability trail in a superbly scenic lakeside setting.
Bwlch Nant Yr Arian provides three spectacular mountain trail bike routes. The Pendam Trail is a 9km single-track route with some technically challenging sections, whilst the more demanding Summit Trail provides 16km of roller coaster biking over purpose built single-track trail.
The ultimate experience at Bwlch Nant Yr Arian is the Continental Tyres Syfydrin Trail, which takes in sections of the other two forestry trails extending the experience to a wilderness trail of over 35km. This challenging route crosses high open hills with spectacular views in exposed and remote countryside.
The most famous of Ceredigion's rivers are the Teifi, Aeron, Rheidol and Ystwyth - not forgetting the seaward reaches of the Dyfi forming the county's northeastern border with Powys. Freshwater angling on Ceredigion's rivers focuses on trout, salmon and sewin (sea trout). The seaward reach of the Teifi, in particular, is considered world-class for its sewin. Upstream on all of Ceredigion's rivers, the major challenge facing anglers is the wily wild brown trout.
Cardigan Bay is renowned for its bass and black bream but this is by no means the sole challenge presented by the varied opportunities afforded amongst the offshore reefs and sandbanks. Boats may be chartered from several of Ceredigion's small ports - but if the weather is adverse, even for shore angling, there is plenty of compensation available within Ceredigion's rivers, lakes and pools.
Food and Drink
Ceredigion's farmhouse dairy tradition - exemplified by Rachel's Organic products is reflected in a plentiful supply of superb speciality local produce including cheeses, ice creams, yogurts, cream and butter - delicious with fresh bread, biscuits or cakes baked using locally-milled flour.
Ceredigion's pubs stock a wide selection, including ales from smaller local breweries such as Bragdy Ceredigion Brewery. Ceredigion is famous for its pure spring water, possibly the best known being the distinctive blue bottled Ty Nant, with others including Glyndwr and Llanllyr. Treasured local delicacies include preserves, pickles, fudge and honey products. The New Quay Honey Farm, which welcomes visitors, is the largest in Wales with 500 hives and 50,000 bees. Holgates Honey Ice Cream has been sold on Aberaeron's quayside for over 35 years.
Aberystwyth's range of galleries include those at the Ceredigion Museum, the University's School of Art, the Notional Library of Wales and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre - the largest in Wales - also offering a 1,000 seat concert hall, theatres and cinema. The programme features internationally - renowned artistes, orchestras and production companies.
The National Library of Wales contains some of the greatest literary and cartographic treasures of Wales and other Celtic nations. Exhibitions display priceless treasures including the illustrated Black Book of Carmarthen, the oldest existing Welsh manuscript.