Wales is famous amongst avid travellers and adventure-seeking families for a multitude of reasons, from the breathtaking coastline along with Pembrokeshire, the rolling hills in the Brecon Beacons to the rocky mountains of Snowdonia National Park that attracts thousands to hike up its rough terrain for the opportunity to look out over unspoiled landscapes.
However, whilst these areas are perhaps the most popular areas of Wales, there are countless other locations in this spectacular country worth exploring and perhaps one area that you should put on your list is Ceredigion, a hidden gem nestled in Mid Wales. The spectacular coastline fringes the county, whilst inland there are some attractive countryside landscapes to marvel at. In this feature, we list some of the hidden beauties around Ceredigion that make it a worthwhile visit for anyone wanting to experience a new, often overlooked part of Wales.
Aberystwyth is arguably one of the main destinations within Ceredigion and has a very legitimate claim as the cultural capital of Wales. Aside from Aberystwyth University, it also boasts the hugely respected National Library of Wales, and The Aberystwyth Arts Centre which is a focal point for contemporary Welsh language and culture. Aberystwyth is a bustling and lively student town at the foot of rolling hills and boasting two beautiful beaches, ruins of a historical castle, a harbour, and pier. From Aberystwyth, on a clear day, the dominating presence of Snowdon can be seen in the distance. The harbour itself was once the busiest in Wales, now it is a little bit quieter but still has a vibrant atmosphere due to its university and the countless cafes, bars, and restaurants that line the streets. Aside from a cultural reference point, one of the town’s more jovial claims is that it boasts over 50 public houses in a little over a square mile, making the most densely ‘taverned’ areas in the UK.
When you visit Mwnt, it will be to enjoy this secluded beach, possibly all to yourselves on one of your allocated beach days. This little cove boasts postcard-worthy views across the water, the beach itself is enclosed around with cliffs and there is a charming white chapel perched above. Take a picnic with you, along with a water cooler, and spend some well-earned quality time with your loved ones. Off the beaten track, Mwnt is also a popular place to spot dolphins enjoying the waves playfully in Cardigan Bay.
A must-visit for those who are captivated by nature, the Cors Caron National Park, also referred to as the Tregaron Bog, houses a number of habitats that make it ideal for a wealth of wildlife. The park itself has been credited as an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). Birdwatchers can expect to see Eurasian sparrow hawks, merlins, peregrine falcons and buzzards, to name a few, soaring through the sky or perched by the water’s edge watching the otters and fish play in the water.
The site itself is made up of three raised bogs that comprise deep layers of peat that have taken an impressive 12,000 years to form. You can walk around the area via the boardwalks, allowing you to be in the heart of the action and giving you a better chance of seeing the wildlife up close.
4. The Sunken Forest
An interesting visit for everyone has to be the Sunken Forest at Borth, but be sure to visit during low tide to get a good glimpse of this intriguing attraction. The Bronze Age forest is submerged under copious amounts of sand and concealed by the playful sea at high tide, but at low tide, you can spot the tops of the trees poking out from the sea-bed. The forest itself is believed to have died around 1500 BC, however, it has been preserved in the peat due to the acid conditions. Unsurprisingly, the forest has become the topic of folklore and legends.
5. The heritage of Welsh Quilting
In Lampeter, in the old town hall, you will find the Welsh Quilt Centre, a working museum and heritage centre in the Teifi Valley dedicated to the simple but distinctive craft of quilting. During the 17th and 18th Centuries, the quilted bedcovers that existed were nearly all utilitarian and made of heavy worsted material or woollen fabric encasing an old woollen blanket. This began to change in the 18th Century with the emergence of decorative quilts, and so a crafting lineage was born.
The museum itself was founded by Welsh quilt collector and historian Jen Jones in 2009 and officially opened by The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. Jones came to Wales from Massachusetts in 1971, and though she had been collecting and making her own traditional Welsh quilts for some time, at the time she arrived, the Welsh weaving traditions were at a basic standstill. Since this time, she’s helped spread the word and revive appreciation for this most precious textile traditions. In addition to the museum, she runs a café and a shop selling vintage Welsh quilts and blankets along with books, gifts, and items by contemporary textile artists and craftspeople, and an exhibition that enthralls even the most uninitiated of visitors to the centre.
Gareth Robinson is General Manager at Quality Cottages. Quality Cottages is a leading Wales-based holiday lettings agency established in 1961.