The start point for this walk was directly outside the Gwbert Hotel where the Wales Coast Path route runs alongside the roadway. Before starting out on the coast path route we took a detour to follow a public footpath which runs through the grounds of The Cliff Hotel. This path around the back of the hotel leads to a cliff top grassy area known as Craig y Gwbert.
This spot is renowned for offering great views of dramatic scenery, the rugged coastline towards Cardigan Island and is definitely worth taking time to walk here.
From this vantage point you can watch the sea as whirlpools swirl and waves foam around rocky outcrops. Nearby is a hidden narrow cove and walking along the clifftop you hear the sound of the forceful ebb and flow of waves, amplified by the narrow steep cliff walls.
Returning to the road at Gwbert the Wales Coast Path route heads uphill following a country road, passing the entrance to Cardigan Island Farm Park. Unfortunately the farm park owners prohibit walkers from access to their land, including a long stretch of fine coastline which is a real shame and the reason the route has to track around fields bordering the farm park.
As we walked across farm fields towards the coast there was a fine view, albeit at some distance, of Cardigan Island. The island is a nationally important and protected nature reserve.
The path takes a welcome turn to the coastline and winds along grassy cliff tops with views of the open sea. There are a few descents and climbs through some picturesque hidden valleys. Walking down tracks into these little valleys leads to stepping stones and footbridges which cross tumbling streams flowing to the sea.
There is the impressive sight in the distance of the headland at Mwnt. From the coast path, when viewed directly ahead the hill has a pyramid like profile. On the approach to Mwnt you enter the National Trust managed area which includes Mwnt beach and the hill.
It’s an easy going and pleasant walk across the top of gorse covered slopes on gently rolling hills with superb views of ‘Foel-y-Mwnt’ mini mountain and the idyllic sheltered cove in its shadow.
Mwnt Beach and Foel-y-Mwnt
Mwnt is an idyllic sheltered sandy beach backed by high sided cliffs. The beach is reached by a set of stone steps which run alongside a babbling stream. The beach has regularly been lauded as one of the finest in Wales and deservedly so.
The beach is sheltered by the prominent hill of Foel-Y-Mwnt but the coast path route doesn’t include the paths which climb the hill to the summit.
That’s no reason though to miss out experiencing what is an exhilarating walk up to the summit. The path up is an uneven stone surface but it’s definitely worthwhile reaching the rugged ridged summit as the reward is exceptional views in all directions including the beach cove, countryside and Cardigan bay.
We followed a path back down around the seaward side of the hill, a narrow track with stunning views of the coast and countryside to the North. On the other side of the hill the path drops to low level fields and we walked across to the iconic landmark, Church of The Holy Cross.
Holy Cross Church, Mwnt
This ancient holy site was once on an Old Pilgrims Way route to St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire. The simple, whitewashed church dates to the 14th Century and served throughout the Middle Ages as a refuge for pilgrims to rest on their journey. It was said that completing 2 pilgrimages to St. David’s equalled one to Rome.
Walking around the churchyard was like stepping back in time as the church retains an air of beautiful antiquity in this isolated setting.
The link with pilgrims brought to mind a marvellous quotation from John Muir, the American naturalist, referring to the wonderful origins of the phrase to “saunter” his preferred description of walking in mountains but which could apply equally to coast walking…..
And so we “sauntered” on our way to return to Gwbert by the same coast path route. In total this walk was just over 9 miles (14.68 kms) round trip, including 4 miles completed on our coastal path journey.