Now that we had acclimatised to the local area and found our feet (excuse the puns), we were keen to hop-on our adventures and make the most of day two in West Wales!
Slurped down the fresh pot of coffee, packed our bags, stuffed them and the dog into the car and away we went towards Newcastle Emlyn in the Teifi Valley.
Pathfinder Guides was our ‘trusted companion’
A few days before we set off to Wales (very last minute) we ordered on-line from Amazon a new guidebook especially for the vacation. Quite honestly there wasn’t a lot of choice available for the region, but being that we already have another one in the series we purchased Pathfinder Guides – Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire walks pocket book (although it’s rather large).
Being that it was day two we wanted a nice long walk that was not too taxing on the legs, but a feast for the eyes. So we went for (the moderate difficulty) middle-of-the-road blue walk, number 21 – Newcastle Emlyn and Cenarth.
The last dragon in the castle ruins at Newcastle Emlyn
Our first stop on the walk, was literally in direct line of sight from the car park! You can’t really call it a stop, as we had not even started but nonetheless it was impressive as Castle’s go, dating back to 1240 AD.
Situated in the perfect elevated spot (strategically) with the Teifi running either side, there is only one way an invading army could approach (in theory). Though Cromwells forces besieged the castle in 1644.
The views either side are impressive, with one side featuring a weir.
Did you know
Originally a timber and earth fort back in the 13th century (1240) for Maredudd-Rhys Gryg, was later replaced with stone by 1287. Between 1300 and 1350 did the castle develop and the community flourish under the Kings Edward and the Black Prince.
So what about this legendary dragon or wyvern?
As you enter the castle grounds you are presented with a large sign stating in a dramatic typeface:
“Here is the place where the last dragon was killed”
Which surely would peak anyone’s interest(?) The legends of old, stories of dragons and great battles! Maybe that’s just us, but we wanted to know more.
Turns out, after a little more research, that the dragon is also referred to as the Wyvern of Newcastle Emlyn (Gwiber Castell Newydd) the winged fire breathing serpent.
Was this the origin of the Welsh dragon featuring so prominently on their flag? I don’t believe it was, as it pre-dates back to the Roman’s and their Draco standards used between 250 and 400 AD.
A great experience for young kids to learn and play
They (being the council and local community) have done a fantastic job at creating this point of interest, getting people involved with their legend rekindling the story of the dragons rebirth in 2006! It’s a wonderful ethos and principal in which to live by (worth reading).
For the kids, there is this story book and activities associated with the egg, the mosaic circle and carved dragon seat. All it takes is a few moments to read the story, the instructions and then let their imaginations run wild travelling back in time anti-clockwise around the mosaic!
Aside from the delight of watching the kids play, it should buy you (if you’re lucky) 15 minutes to admire the elevated view over the surrounding Teifi river and valley.
Newcastle Emlyn was both charming and unhurried
After spending so much time at the castle, we had to get a move on with a good 6 plus miles still to walk and the heavens opening. Though we tried to have a good look around on our way through, but unfortunately for us many of shops did not appear to be open.
Newcastle Emlyn is a charming and very friendly village with an abundance of holiday-maker activities, including plenty of pubs, restaurants, interesting little shops and fabulous local artwork.
We both agreed that it would be a great base from which to explore Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire on a future holiday in Wales! From what we saw, there are plenty of properties to rent, B&B’s, the Maes-Y-Derw Country House and the Gwesty’r Emlyn Hotel.
Over 3 miles later, after a lot of uphill leg work we arrived at Cenarth
That entire stretch was very hard going mostly uphill, past small hamlets and through a couple of farms. From the top there are some great views of the surrounding valleys.
We had a slight bit of drama with around 20 young cows charging towards us, which probably did not help the ‘cow phobia’ we’ve been developing. Though we carried on trudging through the mud, with an attempt at being fleet footed.
As you head down hill toward Cenarth you enter behind Saint Llawddog Church, with views overlooking the village. It’s a lovely little medieval church with three intricate stained glass windows (unfortunately no pics).
After all that walking you have to try the cakes at Ty Te tea rooms!
By this point we needed sugar or at least lunch and as we passed the Three Horse Shoe pub (it was closed) we stumbled into Ty Te. I dumped my bag, the dog and Sherrie in their outdoor seating area and shot inside in search of food.
Now let me say, yes we were very hungry, but basically I ordered two separate rounds of cake and coffee! Yes, they were that tasty we both decided to forget the savoury dishes and head straight for the sweet stuff. After all we deserved it!
There’s plenty of outdoor seating, dogs are allowed and the staff are lovely! Also they have wheel chair access and parking for those passing through!
Cenarth falls, the river Teifi and the old flour mill
With full bellies we set off down to the Teifi, where Sherrie popped into the The Salmon Leap gift shop for a quick nosey, in the hunt for holiday gifts. Whilst Aspen (the dog) and I stood in the rain admiring the waterfalls and the 17th century flour mill.
We did not realise that we had passed The Coracle Centre, but as I was stood there I realised I could see the back of it. The little oval boats are quite impressive, looking at pictures on how they were both built and used to fish.
Did you know
Sitting alongside the river Teifi, the 17th century flour mill with its large iron waterwheel and undershot timber was last working in 1964. It operated two pairs of millstones grinding barley and oats on each pair. The original mill site apparently dates back to 1100 AD.
All this and we’re only half way round the walk!
Apparently we were just over half way and we felt like we had already seen so much! However, the part of the walk back along the Teifi river, within the gorge (Allt y Graig) was beautiful (and slippery). Sherrie almost fell in, but I quickly grabbed her rucksack carry handle and pulled her back, which could have been an interesting end to the day.
The weather had changed, it was all of a sudden sunny and there were valleys to climb up and through Penwenallt farm. We’d built up quite a sweat as we reached the top, the views were again fantastic!
We hopped over the stile into Wenallt down towards Cwm-cou, where we were greeted with a complete splattering of bluebells in the wood running along the ridge. (the photo does not do it justice)
The last stretch back towards Adpar was one of those battles of sheer will with both your feet and your legs protesting for a rest! On the plus side there was a perfectly positioned bench near Cwr-coed with spectacular views overlooking the whole valley.
Walk review: Newcastle Emlyn and Cenarth
Well, this was a stunning walk! There was plenty to see, plenty to do (if you have the spare energy) and the views were absolutely beautiful! We were both agreed, this is a lovely part of Wales and well worth spending nearly a full day out exploring.
Though I must add the guide book was fibbing when it comes to the distance walked. I know there’s a small variance with the distance calculated upon publishing and of course how close a walker sticks to their path…. BUT our pedometer tracked us at 9.5 miles when the book states only 6.5 miles! Take a look at our “Map my walk” tab below for our GPS tracking.
I was expecting at least one mile over, maybe 1.5 miles at a push.. but not 3!
|Points of interest:|
Walk details for Newcastle Emlyn to Cenarth and back
Here are the walk specifics we collated from several different written sources, which include the readings from our pedometers on our ramble. For more detailed information please purchase one of these fantastic walking guides or source the information on-line.
I have included a link to the traditional walking guide map, courtesy of our guide book Pathfinder Guides.
There is not much information on-line for this walk specifically, though we found this PDF: http://www.discovercarmarthenshire.com/active/active_images/newcastle-emlyn.pdf
Here is a link to our walk recorded on our MapMyWalk app, so here is a link to the recorded walk specifics.
On the right is appropriate quick link Google map for Newcastle Emlyn castle car park, which is the starting point for the walk, as suggested by our guide book.
If you scroll to the left you can see Cenarth.