Walk of the month: 'Traeth Bach', a short distance from Manorafon

Photo by   Sian@coldatnight

If you're staying with us at fforest, you will no doubt have a busy itinerary already planned: snoozing in front of the woodburner, sweating it out in the sauna, drinking Welsh beers in the Bwthyn, eating delicious food in the lodge or venturing out to the Pizzatipi, exploring the surrounding fields & woodlands or staring blissfully into middle distance. Exhausting. Meanwhile, for the super energetic, all around us are some fantastic walks, beaches and places to visit whilst you’re staying with us at either fforest, Manorafon or the Granary Lofts. So we've put together some easy guides featuring some of our favourite local spots to help you with your adventure planning.

Traeth Bach, Ceredigion

Walk time: 45 mins
Drive from: fforest 25 mins / Manorafon 2 mins
Difficulty: Moderate
Dog friendly

Traeth Bach (Little Beach) is also known as Secret Beach, Llangrannog 2 & Morfa, depending on which local you're talking to!

This idyllic spot is one of the most beautiful secluded beaches we know. Its not the easiest to find... walkers tend to stumble across it along the Ceredigion cliff path in between Penbryn and Llangrannog, but we've been visiting this beach for many years.

Start Penbryn beach car park, head towards the beach, then find the sign for the footpath, its immediately on the right past the farmyard. Start your ascent up the hill, keep walking until you reach an open field, there's a small gap in the hedge which is your gateway to beach heaven! The final descent down to the beach is a scramble to find footholes, its exciting but be careful! Once on the golden sands, spend a few peaceful hours with the beach all to yourself. Rejoin the cliff path and follow on to Llangrannog or return to Penbryn the way you came.
Notes The towering cliff edges engulf the little cove as if sheltering it from the wind, making this beach a perfect spot for swimming, catching some rays & enjoying a picnic. The tidal island of Carreg-y-ty is on the north side and has a sea cave running right through it. Keep clear of the cave between August & October as seals may be using it to breed.

A collection of photos taken on the walk to Traeth Bach by Sian, fforest chief, and Jackson



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Welsh bothies

You may be familiar with Scottish bothies but did you know there are eight bothies tucked away in the Welsh hills?

Whilst hiking in the most remote places in the UK, you may not expect to find 5* accommodation or a camping site along the way but what you might find is a Great British Bothy. A form of shelter or accommodation with minimal or next to no facilities, it's free of charge and doesn't require a booking system - but you do have to beat others to a bed! Use them as checkpoints, lunch pitstops, over night stays or just for sitting down and airing your socks for an hour; adventurers in the wild tend to appreciate these four walls for something, whatever it may be.

'To maintain simple shelters in remote country for the use & benefit of all who love wild & lonely places.'

The Mountain Bothy Association is a charity-run organisation that works to maintain bothies all over the UK. Wales' bothies are mainly inland and in the North, here's a list of the eight bothies you can find in Wales, based on an MBA map:

Find a Welsh bothy
From North - South:

  1. Dulyn (not show on map, at most northern point near Bangor)
  2. Cae Amos
  3. Arenig Fawr
  4. Penrhos Isaf
  5. Nant Syddion
  6. Nant Rhys
  7. Lluest Cwmbach
  8. Grwyne Fawr

All mountain bothies are a no vehicle access area, most aren't equipped with fuel or water sources and nearest towns are generally miles away. We particularly like the look of Arenig Fawr in Snowdonia and Grwyne Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. Both situated in the midst of unspoiled and vast natural landscape; home to some of the most beautiful mountainous scenery in Wales.

Gwyrne Fawr Bothy, Brecon Beacons

We came across a great article recently on The Peel, written by Ivan Kilroe and featuring some beautiful photography documenting a hike to Gwyrne Fawr bothy. 

Photography and words by Ivan Kilroe:

Travelling from the north as we were, you would be forgiven for missing the structure nestled at the mouth of the reservoir. Fortunately we had seen a few pictures of the shelter beforehand and could work out its position in relation to our surroundings.
Grwynn Fawr is a particularly small bothy overlooking the reservoir and sleeps a maximum of three people (cosily) on a mezzanine sleeping area. Its size means there is always the gamble of it already being occupied, so we made sure to be there extra early on in the afternoon to avoid disappointment. It would have been particularly unfortunate after carrying such a heavy bag of logs over the 4 mile route to be met with an already occupied bothy. Of course this would be a great present for the residents, but fortunately our efforts were rewarded and we secured the occupancy.
Inside the bothy there is a singular rectangular window that doesn't let much light in on a grey and overcast day like today, a miniature table, stone bench, chairs, and a small but exquisitely crafted stove that tapers into the flu. 
We turn to the torches and headlamps to provide some illumination while we fix ourselves a wee dram of whisky to keep us going. The cold white light of the LED's does little to make the space feel homely, but once the fire is underway the bothy is transformed, and a warm comforting glow penetrates the dark corners of the room as we start to feel quite at home in this quaint little building nestled in the Welsh countryside.
Whenever I describe this kind of trip to someone who has no desire to do a trip like this, I'm often met with confusion and a complete lack of understanding as to the why? It's sometimes hard to convey, and I completely understand their sentiments when you describe the somewhat unappealing wintery scene. But there's something in being away from the distractions of modern life and all its convenience that makes me appreciate a few slightly burnt sausages in-between two slices of bread in a dimly lit room with a good friend and a dog sipping whisky into the night. 

Read the full article here



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'The Woof Guide'. The best of dog friendly walks on the Pembrokeshire coastline

3/6 of the fforest dogs
Photo by sian@coldatnight

Swim, run, walk, dig, bury, play, fight & bark on beautiful walks along the coast of south/west Wales, and your dogs can join in too...

The fforest dogs: Arrow, Bru, Mossy, Shrimp, Monty & Nan have explored much of the Welsh coastline already and are probably the most reliable tour guides of the West coast. But in case they missed something, they suggest reading 'The Woof Guide' of Pembrokeshire for the best dog friendly walks in the local area. Most of these beaches, coastal paths and countryside walks are a stones throw from fforest and are well worth a visit.

Visit the Woof Guide website for a list of walks here



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Stretched across 186 miles of coastline, St David's peninsula is a spectacular place to go walking

Opened in 1970, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path was the first National Trail in Wales and is one of 15 National Trails in Britain.

It stretches for approximately 186 miles from St Dogmeals to Amroth, passes 58 beaches along the way and many a charming town & village, including Tenby, St Davids, Solva and Newport. If you were to do it all in one go, the whole of the Pembrokeshire coastline would take 10 to 15 days to walk! So most people tend to choose to do a small section of it to begin with.

The National Trust provide easy to follow guides for some of the best walking trails in Pembrokeshire, the one we have chosen below covers St David's Head coastal walk. An area of untouched, stunning, ever-changing beauty; depending on which point of the path you have reached you will witness the beauty from all angles. We have provided their concise directions below, but read the full article on their website here

Route length: 3.8 miles
Time: 1hr 15mins
Dog friendly

Start at Whitesands beach or carpark...

  1. From Whitesands, go through a gap in the wall on passing the site of St Patrick's Chapel. Climb a sandy slope up on to the cliff path. After about ½ mile (0.8km) you reach a kissing gate and National Trust sign. Continue to the crest of the hill.
     
  2. From here, see Coetan Arthur silhouetted against the sky. St David's Head is forged of very old volcanic rock, some of it dates back almost 500 million years. This geology is best represented by Carn Llidi, the towering jagged outcrop, or tor, and in the rocky islands of Ramsey, Bishops and Clerks several miles out to sea. Our main route sticks to the coast, descending into the valley ahead via broad steps to a spring above the tiny cove of Porth Melgan. An alternative route heads gently uphill round the back of Carn Llidi with fine views to the east, or adventurous souls can scramble to the summit of this peak.
     
  3. Cross the stream by a bridge and turn right or north-east to walk up this valley. This area can be slippery and muddy in winter.
     
  4. To your right is a marshy area with the typical 'dinosaur egg' shapes of purple moor grass or 'rhos pasture', green in summer and earthy coloured in winter. Higher up, on the flanks of Carn Llidi, you can see ancient field patterns. Look out for birds like stonechat, meadow pipit and skylark in clumps of reedbed and willow. The rare Dartford warbler has also been seen in recent years.
     
  5. At the highest point here, the peak of Pen Beri and the expanse of Cardigan Bay appears in the distance. Two headlands away is the winking lighthouse of Strumble Head with the peak of Garn Fawr above it. Descend to rejoin the coast path and turn left towards St David's Head.
     
  6. On the plateau a remarkable rockscape opens up. Jagged erratic rocks are mirrored by the rugged profile of Ramsey Island out to sea. North of Ramsey are the 'Bishops and Clerks', little islets, one of which is home to a big lighthouse. Offshore, you might be lucky enough to spot porpoise or dolphin playing in the waves.
     
  7. The route eventually passes Coetan Arthur and descends to an Iron Age coastal fort at the end of the peninsula. Continue on the coast path, returning to Porth Melgan. Retrace your route from here back to Whitesands beach.



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Hidden gems of wild west Wales

Ok, so they're not exactly secret, but they are places that perhaps few people know about, especially those who are visiting from faraway lands. As locals, we fforest elves love to explore the lengths of our coastline, vast countryside & woodlands, and if we happen to stumble across something quite special, the tendency is to keep it a bit of a secret! But some places are just too good not to share and with word spreading fast about a few of our top secret spots, we thought we'd tell you about some and, most importantly, how to reach them.

Traeth Bach

A short walk from Manorafon/ Penbryn, this spectacular coastal walk will bring you to Llangrannog eventually, but stop off half way and you will arrive at one of the most beautiful secluded beaches we know, 'Traeth Bach' (Little Beach), known to the locals as the secret beach. Its a difficult scamble down, but well worth it.

Walk time 45 mins Drive from fforest 25 mins /Manorafon 2mins Start Penbryn car park, head towards beach, then footpath past farmyard immediately on the right up to the hills. Notes take a picnic and spend the day in the most beautiful and relaxing surroundings, and have it all to yourself!

 

The witches cauldron

A high level coastal path walk with sheer drops and fascinating rock formations, you will arrive at the witches cauldron at the end of the walk- you can't miss it. A towering, collapsed cavern in which you can swim or canoe (both easily). Its a beautiful little sun trap on a good day; your own salty swimming pool complete with rock diving board. Take care with young children.

Walk time 1-2 hours Drive from fforest 20 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start in the village of Moylegrove, follow footpath signs for Ceibwr beach and from there head west on the coast path. Notes favourite spot for seals

 

Rosebush Quarry

Its only a very short walk to reach this spot. From the outside, you would never expect to find such a gem hidden at the centre of Rosebush quarry. Surrounded by rock and slate, the small freshwater lake is a calming and tranquil place. The translucent emerald green water is perfect for a swim but be warned, its pretty cold!

Walk time 10 mins Drive from fforest 20 mins /Manorafon 35mins Start at Tafarn sinc in Rosebush follow track for about 500m the quarry is nestled among the mounds to your right. Notes The quarry is equally as beautiful in rain or shine but visit on a warm sunny day and you will experience some truly magical scenery

 

Ffynone Waterfalls

Nestled deep in the Ffynnone woods is a beautiful clearing and impressive waterfall. Located in a secluded valley, ranging from fairly flat valley bottom to steep valley sides, the woods have four rivers and remnants of an ancient woodland - including veteran oaks - mainly located around the river system.


Walk time 30mins - 1 hour Drive from fforest 15 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start at The Nags Head pub in Abercych follow the lane with the pub on your right, you will reach a carpark enter the wood from here, follow the path & discover the waterfall deep in the centre of the woods Notes The falls are just deep enough to enjoy a chilly swim

 

baby seal beach

Also known as Pirate Cove / Rum Island, this beach is so secret that we don't even know how to give proper directions. Somewhere along the coastal path between Aberporth and Mwnt lies a tiny beach, home to many a seal and her pup. You have to choose the one and only way down to the beach off the path, very difficult to find, only a handful of walkers have dared to venture down the ridiculously steep cliff edge. If you do find the secret pathway, follow the zigzag all the way down where you will find yourself between two cliffs. A small waterfall trickles down from above, forming a river at the bottom that flows off the rocks, onto the beach and into the sea. Follow this river and you will find the beach. So if you see this seal, your best bet of finding the bay is to ask him for directions!



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fforest's favourite beaches on the coast of Ceredigion

If you're staying with us at fforest, you will no doubt have a busy itinerary already planned: Snoozing in front of the woodburner, sweating it out in the sauna, drinking welsh beers in the Bwthyn, eating delicious food in the lodge or venturing out to the Pizzatipi, exploring the surrounding fields & woodlands or staring blissfully into middle distance. Exhausting. Meanwhile, for the super energetic, all around us are some fantastic walks, beaches, places to visit and activities to try whilst you’re staying with us at either fforest, Manorafon or the Granary Lofts. So we've put together some easy guides featuring some of our favourite local spots to help you with your adventure planning.

Scroll down to see our chosen top 5 beaches on the Ceredigion coastline.

Penbryn


Penbryn beach is one of Ceredigion's most popular beaches and is virtually on Manorafon's doorstep. Owned by the National Trust, Penbryn lies between Tresaith and Llangrannog, two other popular coves linked by the Wales Coast Path, and a network of quiet wooded lanes. Walk time 30mins through the woods Drive from fforest 20mins /Manorafon 2mins Start at the national trust car park. From there head towards the woodland footpath and arrive at the beach at the end Notes On very low tide, explore the right hand side of the beach - beautiful rock formations, pools & cliff edges and a fabulous spot to watch the sun setting over the sea.

 

Mwnt


Visiting Mwnt's tiny secluded beach and climbing Mwnt is a highlight for many of our guests. Take a walk on the beach or climb Mwnt mountain, there are spectacular views all around. 
Walk time 30mins Drive from fforest 15 mins /Manorafon 30mins Start at the national trust car park. From there head straight up the hill or bear right and walk around the lower path for frequent views of seals and dolphins. Notes The sunset view from the top of Mwnt is something not to be missed.

 

Llangrannog


Llangrannog is probably the most picturesque seaside town of Ceredigion and the small beach there is just as beautiful. On low tide walk over to the right and discover Llangrannog part two, but be careful not to get cut off over there on high tide!
Drive from fforest 25mins/Manorafon 5mins Notes 'Carreg Bica' is the defining feature of Llangrannog beach. Its big, bold & wave-shaped, and is probably the most photographed rock of west Wales.

 

Ceibwr


A quieter beach just outside of Cardigan, its a perfect place to relax and have a picnic lunch with family & friends. If you're feeling adventurous, walk the cliff path to the witches cauldron, one of our favourite secret spots. Drive from fforest 15mins /Manorafon 20mins Start in the village of Moylegrove, follow footpath signs for Ceibwr beach and from there head west on the coast path to eventually reach the witches cauldron. Notes favourite spot for seals.

 

Aberporth


Aberporth beach will always hold a special place at the heart of fforest; it being the home of fforest chief and Sian. With two separate beaches, the right hand side is our favourite. Its also the backdrop to fforest chief's office shed.
Drive from fforest 15mins/Manorafon 5mins Notes The sunsets over the estuary are pretty spectacular.



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See the best of the west by boat or canoe. Local trips guided by local legends

A Bay to remember

Guided boat trips to bring you closer to the wildlife of Cardigan Bay: Dolphin, seal and sea bird watching tours. A Bay to Remember use modern purpose built vessels with the latest environmentally friendly engines and safety equipment that offer a safe and exhilarating experience suitable for all ages. Their booking office is located just outside the entrance to the Pizzatipi, some boat trips depart from this riverside location too.

Telephone 01239 623558  Website

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Seamor

One and a half hour guided Dolphin Watching Boat Trip, leaving from the picturesque fishing village of New Quay, Ceredigion. Learn about the local history, geology and wildlife from our marine biologist guides and knowledgeable skippers. No trip is the same but you typically see bottlenose dolphins, a variety of seabirds, grey seals, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises. Occasional visitors here are sunfish, basking sharks, minke whales and even humpback whales!

Telephone  07795242445  Website

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Diana Ellen Boat trip

The history of the river Teifi dates back to the 11th century, on this boat trip with the aid of photographs and local knowledge, Captain Dai will give you an insight into how the river developed into a major fishing and ship building industry. Embark from the jetty in patch Gwbert, at the the mouth of the estuary and travel up-stream to the centre of Cardigan. Stop at various points of interest to cover the development of the river and discuss how the people once earned their living on this beautiful stretch of water. The tour will take between 3-4 hours dependant on tide and weather conditions. 

Telephone 07748140779 Website

Skomer Island boat trip

For over 40 years Pembrokeshire Island Boat trips have been providing boat trips to Pembrokeshire’s offshore islands, and in this time have realised that one person’s idea of the perfect trip can vary greatly from another’s. They aim to offer a wide range of services catering for all ages and interests, from 15 minute crossings to 3 hour offshore voyages. A 15 minute boat ride takes you to enjoy one of the most incredible wildlife experiences in Britain, Skomer Island, where hundreds of puffins choose to nest each year.

Telephone 01646 603123 Website

Heritage Canoes

The River Teifi has some of the most breathtaking otherwise unreachable stretches in Wales, Heritage Canoes has the only commercial contract to take you there. Winding towards the sea, the deep, tidal Teifi Gorge is a unique environment where fresh and salt waters meet and the species it is home to forms one of the most varied aquatic landscapes in the country. The gorge offers safe, gentle river paddling in open canoes for people of all ages and abilities. With the river flowing lazily past ancient woodland and wildlife habitats, a canoe trip should be high on your list of must-do’s on your holiday. 

Telephone 01239 623633 Website

The Sea Warrior

Experience the wonders & wildlife along the river Teifi. These trips start from the quayside just around the corner from Pizzatipi and are just £5 per person payable on board. The trips are along the Teifi River to its mouth and return, lasting about 50 minutes. Trips run from Easter to September, times are dependent on tides and the weather. Pop in for a pizza & beer with us on your return!

 

Telephone 07769 947047



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Portmeirion: A small piece of the Mediterranean in the North of Wales

Bold colours, Italianate architecture & beautiful sea views, the captivating town of Portmeirion in the north of Wales still attracts thousands of visitors 90 years after its creation.

If you haven't been to Portmeirion, you would probably guess that the postcard town was far, far away somewhere on the Mediterranean coastline in the blazing hot sun. In reality, the picturesque town can be found somewhere in the not so blazing hot sun and relatively close by on the Welsh coastline. Portmeirion is the dream and vision of famed architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who acquired the unique site in 1925 for around £20,000. Near his own family home, Plas Brondanw, he began work almost immediately:

'Portmeirion was built in two stages: from 1925 to 1939 the site was 'pegged-out' and its most distinctive buildings were erected. From 1954-76 he filled in the details. Several buildings were salvaged from demolition sites, giving rise to Clough's description of the place as "a home for fallen buildings."'

Portofino, Italy

It is no coincidence that the town is reminiscent of the Med. Portmeirion is often said to be directly inspired by the small fishing village of Portofino in the North of Italy, although this has been repeatedly denied by Sir Clough. The architect stated only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean, but he has never denied his love of the Italian village, stating "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site."

One notable Portmeirion visitor was world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright who stayed in the town in 1956. Interestingly, this visit marked the architect's one and only trip to his ancestral country of Wales. Portmeirion today still attracts thousands of visitors annually, 90 years after its creation. What undoubtedly makes this town one of Wales's top tourist destinations is its location in an unspoiled natural landscape, complete with exotic plants and vast woodland, on a stunning Welsh coastline combined with, of course, the phenomenal architecture. Even though the town functions solely as a tourist destination, a collective desire to keep this small corner of Wales in its best condition means that both tourists and staff endeavour to maintain the town's original beauty and charm.



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