If visiting the quiet coastal towns of Cardigan and New Quay it is worth heading north for a lively change of scenery with a visit to the university town of Aberystwyth.
The seaside town is surrounded by the stunning countryside of the Cambrian Mountains and the Rheidol Valley making it a great pace for families who love the great outdoors. As it is home to the university it remains cosmopolitan and lively all year, with an abundance of great places to eat and drink. It’s also a deeply traditional Georgian seaside resort and this combination of elements makes it a ‘must see’ destination on the Ceridigion Coast.
The impressive promenade stretches along one and a half miles, with pastel coloured buildings facing the sea. Marine Terrace and North Beach hark back to the grand old days, with Georgian hotels and the Royal Pier, stretching out to sea, now covered in modern amusement arcades. The grand Victorian edifice of the Old College, originally built as a luxurious hotel and the sparse remains of the castle overlooking South Beach complete a brief architectural history of the town.
The castle, like many in the area, was built by Edward I and has since been ravaged by a succession of battles. The ruins now surround a Gorsedd stone circle, which forms part of Eisteddfod celebrations each summer.
One of the highlights of a visit to Aberystwyth is a trip up Constitution Hill. The hill, or ‘Consti’ as its known locally, is situated at the far north end of the seafront above Victoria Terrace. For those unable or unwilling to climb to the summit, there is a funicular railway to take the journey in comfort and ease. At the summit the climb is rewarded with the most spectacular views along 60 miles of the Ceridigion coast while looking inland, 26 mountain peaks can be seen, including, on a clear day, Snowdon. There is a replica Victorian style Camera Obscura which, with its massive 14 inch lenses allows clear views of 1000 square miles of surrounding countryside and seascape.
Another hard to resist treat is the Vale of Rheidol steam railway. The locomotives were built in the 1920s and have been lovingly restored by local enthusiasts. The journey, following the winding narrow gauge tracks along the valley is just breathtaking.
The destination for the railway trip is Devils Bridge. Four minutes from the station is the amazing sight of the 90 metre deep gorge cut by the river Mynach, topped by three bridges, towering over each other, each built as the previous was thought to be unstable. There is a steep set of steps leading down to the lowest bridge called Jacobs Ladder.
Back in Aberystwyth the evening is the time to explore the huge variety and concentration of eating and drinking venues. Some favourites include the Spanish deli and bistro Ultracomida, top restaurant The Orangery, and for a traditional Welsh pub try the Coopers Arms for a friendly atmosphere, music and a pint!