Cardigan Bay is a bit of a secret. We know people who have been going for years but they don’t talk too much about it. They don’t want to share the spectacular scenery, the range of activities and the laid-back atmosphere with anyone, and I don’t blame them.
We went to Cardigan Bay by accident. We wanted to go glamping for Easter weekend, somewhere near the coast, and we planned to take our dog. Using the website Cool Camping I researched a few options and landed on Sloeberry Farm, a ten-minute drive from the small town of Aberporth on the Ceredigion Heritage Coast. Mr P and I were excited. We’d never been to the Welsh coast before – a previous trip had been halted in its tracks by a broken-down car, leaving us stranded in the Brecon Beacons!
Sloeberry Farm itself sits on the hills high above Aberporth. On the site are three separate safari tents, though using the word tent does do it a bit of an injustice. Two of the tents have hot tubs (not ours), they all have kitchens with a hob, indoor and outdoor lights, a hot shower and a flushable loo. It might come as a surprise to you to learn that none of the tents have any electricity! Everything is solar powered, which does mean that there’s nowhere to charge your gadgets in your tent.
TOP TIP: if you want to charge your gadgets bring their chargers, with the plug. In a small shed at the entrance to the farm are some sockets you can use. We only brought our USB cables with a portable charger so couldn’t use their facility. It was great to be offline for a while (once our portable charger ran out of charge), other than when we were trying to use google maps to find our way around!
The living space indoors is fantastic, with old-Chesterfield sofas and chairs, a large dining table and kitchen (gas hob, sink, crockery, cutlery, cool box for cold items). It’s large and airy and we had plenty of space for the four of us, plus the dog. There’s also a wood-burning stove to light up as you come inside in the evenings. We really enjoyed playing cards by candlelight with the stove flickering away in the background.
The beds are something else. The boys had a choice of sleeping in bunk beds (really sturdy) or in a king-size cabin bed. We chose that they should sleep separately (we didn’t trust them sleeping together in the cabin bed!) which worked brilliantly. The cabin was a magical place where they could shut themselves away from everything. The 3rd sleeping option was a very comfortable king-size bed. Sloeberry provide all the bedding and extra rugs and blankets you might need if it’s chilly.
Behind the bedrooms you find the separate loo and shower, a real luxury when camping.
The seating on the deck is the perfect place to enjoy a G&T or a beer in the evening sun. The boys loved playing out here too, and I found the railings to be a useful spot to dry out our beach towels. At the base of the deck we had a BBQ and firepit (logs and coals available to buy on site), and below that was a small river and bushes for the boys to explore. We were told that there are otters in the river. We didn’t see any, but they were one of the reasons we had to keep our dog on the lead at all times.
WHAT TO BRING FOR GLAMPING
- Chargers with plugs if you want to stay connected during your stay
- Cold blocks to keep items cold in the cool box they provide. You can use the freezer on site to refresh them
- Wellies, or other outdoor shoes, to wear in the dewy, long grass in the mornings
- Slippers or warm socks to wear inside in the chilly mornings
- Stuff to keep the kids busy – there’s no play area (other than the river) so bring outdoor games (eg football / cricket items); games to play as a family (cards, Uno, Top Trumps, Dobble etc); some toys, books (reading / activity) and perhaps tablets if you’re not creating a gadget-free zone
- There’s no shop on site so bring enough food and drink for the first night and morning at least. There are supermarkets in Cardigan, which is about a 10-minute drive away.
WHAT TO DO – ON THE COAST
We visited on Easter weekend which, this year, was unseasonably warm. I had anticipated doing some hiking, visiting castles and exploring the hills. Instead we found ourselves on, in or near the water for most of the weekend!
DOLPHINS – this area is one of the best in the UK to spot dolphins. We had our first sighting as we got out of our car in Aberporth. We knew that we had to make more of the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures, so decided to book a dolphin-spotting boat trip. We went with SeaMôr which operates out of New Quay. You can read more about our spectacular sea safari here, with some video of their acrobatics, dolphin facts and top tips. It was a truly magical experience. Most of the dolphin-spotting boats in Cardigan Bay operate out of New Quay harbour
ON THE WATER – joining a boat trip is one way to get out on the water, the other is to hire paddleboards or kayaks. As we had our dog with us, and it was too warm to leave him in the car (plus we couldn’t leave him in our tent) we didn’t choose to do this on our trip. Both Aberporth and New Quay had rental places, however there are many options up and down the coast to pick up the equipment.
BEACHES – the Ceredigion Heritage Coast is stunning! High cliffs, little coves, sandy beaches. Explore it on the coast path and take in the spectacular views, or head to one of the beaches.
Tresaith Beach really does have it all. Plenty of sand to spread out on, rock-pools to investigate and caves where dragons might lurk, but it’s the waterfall spilling down from the cliffs above that elevates this beach to a must-visit. We took a picnic and spent a happy four to five hours here. Unless you arrive early expect to park at the top of the village. There is a shop near the beach for seaside essentials.
Mwnt Beach is described as a hidden cove, but it’s firmly on the list of top beaches in the area. Owned by the National Trust, the big draw of this beach is the cliff above, which is easily accessed from the car park. From the top are the most beautiful views of the coast and vertiginous views of the beach below. The tide was on its way out while we were at the beach, so we spent a content few hours creating sand sculptures in the wet sand and playing in the waves. We hadn’t brought the boys bodyboards with us – really, we should have done as the waves were great. As an extra-special treat at Mwnt we spotted a seal in the water when we first arrived.
New Quay – the beach at New Quay is very popular and there’s certainly a lot to do in this harbour town. There’s a great choice of places to get food and ice cream and to pick up souvenirs. As well as being the base of most dolphin-spotting boat trips, you can also find the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre.
Staying near Cardigan Bay you are spoilt for choice for activities. We were only there for 3 days, and with such amazing weather we spent more time at the beach than we’d planned. We did make it to Cilgerran Castle (National Trust) for a wander around the ruins. The views over Cilgerran gorge were spectacular. We took a short walk along the river, giving the dog a run. We spied lots of people kayaking and made a mental note to give that a try on our next visit.
Also on our list for a future visit is the Welsh Wildlife Centre near Cilgerran, exploring Cardigan itself and walking the coast path to drink in more of those wonderful views.
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