Section Two A - Optional - Ynyslas to Borth - Ceredigion Coast Path (Optional Loop)
Distance - A 7 mile (11km) loop from Borth
Grade - All dead flat, fast and easy walking – beach, dunes and salt marsh wetlands - What this grade means
An Extension Option to include Ynyslas Dune System, the official start of the Ceredigion Coast Path.
The Ceredigion Coast Path proper starts at Ynyslas, a sandy spit 3 miles north of Borth, where the land in Ceredigion runs into the immense Dyfi Estuary. It’s an impressive spot and a National Nature Reserve but there is not a house here, let alone anywhere to stay or eat. Those wanting to include it in their walk will need to either walk a circular route to Ynyslas from the accommodation in Borth (adding 7 miles to the distance to Aberystwyth) or take a taxi to the start, adding 3 miles.
We can advise on and set up any of these options depending on how far you want to walk today.
Head through the one-street town of Borth, where long wooden planks along the shingle ridge allow you to keep just inland of the beach. Then head on to the sands OR along the road to the dunes at the head of the estuary, depending on your luck with the tide.
The beach walk to Ynyslas and the Dyfi National Nature Reserve is a delight. At low tide you have 3 miles of sandy beach. It is quite a sight; the sands here are peppered with prehistoric pine, birch and oak tree stumps, an ancient, drowned forest submerged by the waves over 6000 years ago and preserved by the acid anaerobic conditions of the peat. Bones of aurochs, a type of wild ox, have been unearthed from amongst the stumps.
Once you reach the dunes, you have some concept of the vastness of this place, which feels almost Sahara-like, but with sprouting clumps of marram grass, pyramidal and bee orchids, birds foot trefoil and yellow ragwort. A plethora of steep hollows, sand mounds and huge pits create a real maze if you try to trek through them, giving a real sense of solitude.
Look out for butterflies, greenshank, redshank, orchids and fungi which thrive in its unique biosystem, despite the dunes being relatively recent at less than 800 years old. Most walkers determinedly stick to the foreshore and follow the headland around to the Dyfi Estuary where you can gaze across from the end of Ceredigion to the golden sands at Aberdyfi – at low tide it appears that you can take your shoes off and walk across – don’t try – there are fierce currents and a shipping channel which is much deeper than it appears.
Instead, it’s 2 days walk inland to reach the point you can see just ¼ mile across the water. Ringed plovers nest happily out here at the end of the land and there are passing flocks of widgeon, mallard, egrets, teal, shelduck here as well as Canada geese and the rarer Greenland white fronted geese which honk their way down the sands and into the saltmarsh behind.
The visitor centre set back off the beach is the official start of the Ceredigion Coast Path. There is a viewing platform on the beach and a boardwalk across the dunes.
Take care not to pick up any suspicious items as you walk - the whole dunes area was an artillery testing range during World War II, indeed the infamous Big Bertha gun was brought here from Scotland to be tested.
From Ynyslas you return to Borth on the official Ceredigion Coast Path route to start the trek south on to Aberystwyth. This avoids repetition of the beach walk and instead heads inland ¾ mile, tracking the Afon Leri watercourse on the western edge of the Bog of Borth.
It’s flat, pleasant walking along the embankment and great for birdlife. Within an 1 ½ jours you are back at Borth and after a stop for refreshments, head on to Aberystwyth on Section 2b of what is now the combined Wales and Ceredigion Coast Path.
Section 2b - Borth to Aberystwyth direct – Ceredigion and Wales Coast Path
Total distance 6 miles (9.6km) Grade - First 3 miles from Borth are very Strenuous but superb walking then moderate grade with an easy finish for the last mile into Aberystwyth. Cliffs and Coves.
Click Here for information on your overnight in Borth at the start of The Ceredigion Coast Path.
If you have arrived at Borth from Ynyslas or across the great Bog of Borth, be ready for a shock – there is no gentle introduction to the ups and downs of the Ceredigion Coast Path. As soon as you leave the town you are thrown straight into some very strenuous climbs and descents and some of the most dramatic and exciting walking on the whole route.
Leave the shingle and sand and climb to the lonely Borth War Memorial above Abberwennol Bay – take a last look here to Ynyslas and at the northern end of the county of Ceredigion - a lovely view with the full sweep of the bay, before you start on the switchback to come. But don’t linger too long – the memorial here had to be rebuilt in 1983 after lightning struck it down and you are a bit exposed up here!
It’s a steep drop, crossing a small stream with a nice little bay if you have the time to visit, before a big climb to the top of the cliffs at Craig Y Delyn. This is a huge slope of sheer rock face dropping off below you - known locally as Harp Rock for its strata which are said to look like harp strings.
You have climbed around 380 feet to this lofty spot, the highest point of the day, so if you make the climb in one go then you have done well. From here it’s a breath-taking cliff-top walk, exposed in places, with short sections of narrow path and big drops, culminating in an improbable descent on steep steps down the cliffs to the solitary house at Wallog - a superb and thoroughly exciting welcome to Ceredigion’s cliffs and the week of walking ahead.
Wallog is as it seemed when you first spotted it a mile back - a solitary house, perhaps the loneliest on the whole route, wedged in a deep green valley beneath huge coastal peaks and it feels a million miles from the promenade at Aberystwyth…even though it’s only 3 miles away!
Sarn Gynfelyn is notable at Wallog Beach; a stony causeway around 20 metres wide which heads straight out towards Ireland for over 11km – it’s part of an ice age moraine of glacial debris and an unusual sight, best viewed at low tide. Legends abound that this is one of the roads to the sunken Atlantis-type kingdom of Cantre r Gwaelod.
Beyond Wallog, the path remains dramatic but with lower and more unstable cliffs, so the path detours quite a bit, but there remain impressive drops to the waters below. The walking is moderate now but thoroughly enjoyable, with unique rock formations, twisted strata and bedding planes far below you at the foot of the cliffs, particularly evident at low tide. If it’s high tide there’s still plenty to see, with the more sheltered sections here good for wild flowers including thrift, harebells and sea mayweed.
You arrive suddenly at the little bay at Clarach, a shock after the isolation of the last few miles and a reminder that Aberystwyth is not far now. Once a pretty beach, it is now home to a lot of caravans and various amusement rides.
It’s small and well contained however, within a wide U-shaped glacial valley, which absorbs the caravans neatly and the place has a happy, holiday feel about it. Most importantly for the walker, it is the first chance for some refreshments since Borth, and after the climbs and descents you are likely to be very grateful to stop here for an ice cream or a cup of tea.
The next section is more likely to be one where you have other walkers for company as it’s a short hike from here into Aberystwyth on well-maintained paths, but a bit of company is nice for a change! After passing through conifers, look for kestrels hovering above as you join a lovely, airy path high above the ocean with more dramatic cliffs.
The walk ends as you reach Constitution Hill – originally Craig-Glais – humorously re-named by Victorians for its very steep 430ft climb up from the town. It’s nice and easy from this side and you are rewarded as you arrive with iconic views over the ‘other capital of Wales’ with Aberystwyth laid out before you. This was once something of a Victorian playground - there was even an early prototype of the roller coaster up here at what was then known as the Lunar Park. The bandstands and ballroom have gone but there is still a café and a huge camera obscura if you want a closer look at the next stretch of trail!
The descent is an exhilarating switchback straight down to the beach and town, zigzagging below the cliff railway and smugly passing red faced and panting visitors from Aber heading upwards!
The coast path takes you right through Aberystwyth and is utterly faithful in delivering all the sights - the Victorian seafront promenade, the pier, Gothic university buildings (a kind of Hogwarts-by-the-sea) and then onto the little headland to pass the castle ruins and finally the harbour.
Click Here for information on your overnight in Aberystwyth on The Ceredigion Coast Path.