This walk starts in the tiny hamlet of Gwbert, directly outside the Gwbert Hotel where the Wales Coast Path runs alongside the roadway. Before joining the coast path we first took a detour on a public footpath which runs through the grounds of The Cliff Hotel nearby. A path leads around to the back of the hotel, with access to a cliff top grassy area known as Craig y Gwbert.
This beautiful spot is renowned for offering great views of 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 crash around rocky outcrops. Nearby is a 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 we were back on the Wales Coast Path which heads uphill along a country road, passing the entrance to Cardigan Island Farm Park. Unfortunately due to a long standing dispute, the farm park owners prohibit walkers from access to their land, which includes a long stretch of fine coastline, a real shame and the reason the official path has to track around fields bordering the farm park.
As we walked across farm fields, looking towards the coast there’s a fine view, albeit at some distance, of Cardigan Island. The island is a nationally important wildlife habitat and protected nature reserve.
The path takes a welcome turn towards the coastline and soon winds along grassy cliff tops with views of the open sea. There are a few descents and climbs through some picturesque hidden valleys. Walking through these tranquil little valleys, crossing stepping stones and footbridges over streams tumbling to the sea provides an opportunity to just pause and soak up the sense of the surroundings. Taking a moment to listen to the flowing water, feel the breeze and sun on your face, being immersed in nature, really is a balm for the soul.
In the distance ahead there’s the impressive sight of the prominent 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, gently rolling hills with superb views of ‘Foel-y-Mwnt’ a mini mountain with an 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 freshwater stream flowing down to the beach. And what a beautiful beach it is, lauded as one of the finest in Wales and deservedly so.
The beach is sheltered by the prominent hill of Foel-Y-Mwnt but surprisingly the coast path doesn’t include the paths which climb the hill to the summit.
That’s no reason though to miss out and it’s definitely worth the effort to experience an exhilarating walk up to the summit. The path up is an uneven broken stone surface but on reaching the rugged rock summit the reward is exceptional views in all directions including the beach cove, countryside and Cardigan bay.
We followed a path back down around the North-west side of the hill, a narrow track with stunning views of the coast and countryside to the North. The track meanders down to fields and we walked across to the iconic landmark building, the 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. In times past, for Christian pilgrims it was deemed 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 to pilgrims of the Middle Ages brought to mind a marvellous quotation from John Muir, the American naturalist. Referring to the wonderful origins of the phrase to “saunter” which was his preferred description of walking in mountains but which could equally apply to coast walking…..
After visiting the Church and being inspired by the wonderful setting, we “sauntered” on our way, retracing our steps to return along the coast path to Gwbert.
This walk was over 10 miles as a ‘there and back’ route.