New Quay is home to the Black Lion, reputably Dylan Thomas’ favourite haunt. Tresaith is home to The Ship Inn, my favourite haunt. Aberaeron is home to The Harbourmaster, reputably everyone’s favourite haunt. It has won countless awards after all. You could really spend your entire holiday going from pub to pub and why not!? From the beautifully modern Harbourmaster to the traditional stone and slate Pentre Arms (Another favourite of Dylan Thomas) there are so many lovely pubs to choose from so why choose at all?
From where we stay in Tresaith there are at least six or seven beaches within a short driving distance and each more beautiful than the last. My personal favourite is Mwnt, wind down the country roads and you’ll most certainly think you are lost but the view at the end is worth the journey. Sat on that beach, looking around at the crystal blue sea and the rock formations dipping into it you’d believe you were in a movie set. Oddly, it somewhat reminds me of that Raquel Welch beach scene in One Million Years B.C. A beach that is so beautiful it’s as though it is completely untouched, totally natural and almost prehistoric. How many other places can you say that about in this day and age?**
Up until my first visit to West Wales I had the right hump about never having seen dolphins. I’ve been to countless Caribbean islands but not a single spotting… I drive two hours from Cardiff to New Quay and there are dozens of the buggers! It’s almost a challenge to not spot any wildlife on the Pembrokeshire and Cardigan coasts. Dolphin pods, Seals basking in the sun or popping up to be nosy, Crabs, Lobsters and sea life galore. Best of all? All in their natural habitat. For a great dolphin spotting location head to one of my favourite pubs in the world, The Ship Inn, Tresaith. Grab a cold drink and try to nab a bench overlooking the sea, there are dolphin spottings almost every day from that exact location.
If there is one thing I love most about the seaside it’s the seafood and the West coast does it exceptionally well. Try The Lime Crab in New Quay for your old school fish and chips fix. In addition to cod and chips for you traditionalists, they also offer up a few different dishes such as salt & pepper squid, mackerel goujons or scallops for those who like their chippy tea with a twist. They also offer a great range of both gluten-free and vegan options. If you fancy a sit-down meal then you really can’t miss The Cliff, Cardigan or The Harbourmaster, Aberaeron. Both serve up a stunning array of freshly caught seafood. For a quick pub snack, The Harbourmaster crispy cockles with spicy vinegar are not to be missed! If you somehow aren’t full from the copious amounts of crab, cockles and other fresh fishies you simply cannot miss a visit to Crwst in Cardigan for a spot of brecwast. Try their pancakes served with Llaeth y Llan yogurt, homemade granola, mixed berries, and Cardigan honey and grab a few doughnuts to snack on for later. You’ll find space, trust me.
Whether it’s famous poets or prehistoric settlements you are looking for, the West is a haven of historic tales for you to explore. Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn is surrounded by myth and legend, the 25 tonne stone is actually a Neolithic tomb but in the land of the dragon, there is no harm in believing whichever legend you choose. Head into the town centre of Cardigan and to the castle that sits on the banks of the River Teifi to explore years and years of Welsh history, or, If beautiful views are the cheese to your toastie then don’t miss Pembroke Castle. It’s as if Disney plucked this castle right into each of their movies, it really is breathtaking. It’s also the birthplace of Henry VII!
Dive into any one of the aforementioned pubs and you won’t struggle to find a pint of good, Welsh beer. The South may be the kings of brewing the beers with the likes of Tiny Rebel, Grey Tees and Pipes all residing there but the West know how to serve it up. For a real taste of the West then seek out a pint of the strong stuff brewed by Felinfoel or Gwaun Valley Breweries. Iechyd Da!*
Stand by the statue of St Crannog looking over Llangrannog bay. Near the Church of the Holy Cross in Mwnt. On the beach in Aberporth. Stand/Sit/Jump in any one of those spots and tell me that those views don’t rival some of the best in the world. Wales is a country of unparalleled beauty and the West coast showcases it beautifully with its picturesque seaside towns and coastal paths.
Joe and I are lucky enough that we go to the West Coast every summer with his family. When I started writing this piece I asked him what his favourite thing about Tresaith was (The small coastal village we stay in), “It’s a week of the year where I can just totally relax because it feels a million miles away but yet it still feels like home”. Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a home away from home, a small piece of Welsh paradise and the perfect remedy for those busy bees amongst you that just want a break away from city life.
If you are officially head over heels and fancy booking your break to West Wales, check out Canopy and the Stars for some gorgeous accommodation options. Including a few dog-friendly ones so your pooch can also come for a mooch!
*Cheers! in Welsh.
**Be warned there are lots of steps to get down to the beach so make sure you have your supplies before you get down there, you don’t want to find your perfect spot and then realise you’ve forgotten your much needed Calippo.