Where the Wild Things Are… Kate O’Connell goes West, to discover Ceredigion.
A centre of Welsh Culture, the rural county of Ceredigion features 50 miles of coastline and rugged, mountainous.
I have to confess, my visits to Wales have been few and far between, and have pretty much consisted solely of City shopping trips to Cardiff. Somewhat superficial really, so I thought it was duly time to get my act together and visit a more tranquil side to Wales. Our destination? Ceredigion.
A straight 3 hour trip up the M4 took us to our destination; Canvas and Campfires. A luxury glamping site located three miles from the university town of Lampeter, Canvas and Campfires is a freeholding site with 5 luxury canvas tents, each holding up to 6 guests. Each tent is bequeathed with running water, a full equipped kitchen, a cosy wood burning stove, as well as delightfully comfortable beds and sofas. As they put it themselves, it’s like camping…but better!
As we arrived, we knew we were in for a wonderful experience. Canvas and Campfire’s site is truly tucked away in a little slice of paradise. We met with owners Ellie and Dan, who couldn’t have been more welcoming and accommodating. They even had the hot tub (yes, our tent really did have it’s own private hot tub!) all warmed up and ready for us on arrival, which we promptly hopped into!
Ellie and Dan were on hand to offer their knowledge on the local area, and suggested if we wanted supplies, Lampeter town was best to make our way to. I was particularly eager to sample some of the local cheeses, and so we were advised to visit Watson & Pratts bakehouse. This was indeed sound advise, and we got our hands on all sorts of delightful goods, including some divine Welsh cheeses, as well as some gorgeous baked goods. Perfect for our first night under the stars!
We had been advised that there was a local seafood festival coming to Cardigan Bay, and being big lovers of seafood, we thought this would be one not to miss!
Held in the first week of July and established by a group of local fishermen, the Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival was now into it’s 22nd year, and has gone from strength-to-strength over the years. With chefs on hand cooking up a variety of dishes on every corner of the town, the aim of the festival is to highlight and showcase the produce that was available on the town’s doorstep.
Initially we were mildly frustrated at the lack of information available for the event, with locals stating that it began ‘sort of at 1pm’. But from the moment we arrived (which was a pleasant, short bus journey from Lampeter town down into the harbour of Aberaeron), it was immediately apparent that this was all down to the easy going, relaxed vibe that this town exudes in the most beautiful manner. The atmosphere is so welcoming, the smells are ridiculously inviting – we didn’t know which stall to hit first!
Cardigan Bay is a spectacular stretch along the middle section of the west Wales coast, and Aberaeron is one of the prettiest harbour towns following the coast road, half way between Aberystwyth and Cardigan. Once we had finally made our minds up which stalls to start with, we took our freshly cooked seafood dishes down to the harbour wall to devour, all washed down with some local welsh cider of course. Absolutely perfect!
Before catching the bus back to Canvas and Campfires, we thought we may as well purchase some seafood from one of the local fishmongers in Aberaeron to cook ourselves at the campsite. We bought twelve (very large!) scallops, which we fried up on the portable stove back in the tent and paired with some white wine, garlic, parsley and spaghetti.
Sitting out on our deck area, we watched the red kites and buzzard soar above us, sipped wine and watched the evening go by, even lighting up the log burner when we started to feel a little chilly. What a way to spend a summers evening!
Sadly the following morning it was time to depart, but Dan and Ellie advised that if we had time, we should take a short detour to visit the harbour of New Quay.
A popular seaside harbour town located within Cardigan Bay, New Quay offers stunning views of the bay, and we had heard rumours that it was an excellent location to spot dolphins if you are lucky. This alone was enough to have us racing there, and by chance, we were in luck! No sooner had we purchased some local fish and chips (which I have to say certainly rival English fish and chips) and plonked ourselves on the harbour wall, than the unmistakable fin of a dolphin appeared on the surface of the water – right in front of us! We sat transfixed on the harbour wall for probably the best part of an hour, unable to look away from the family of dolphins that we could have sworn were lapping up the attention of the onlookers.
If you are fancying a trip to Wales, I have one piece of advice for you. Discover Ceredigion. You won’t regret it.
ACCOMMODATION: Canvas & Campfires, PantYrHwch, Llanwnnen, Lampeter SA487LY