Once a successful fishing port, New Quay’s sandy beaches and attractive harbour make it a popular destination. In September 1944, Dylan Thomas, wanting to escape wartime London, moved to New Quay with his family. Although his stay here was short, (the family left New Quay after only a few months when a neighbour with whom he had argued, shot at him with a machine gun), it was while he lived here at ‘Majoda’, his ‘shack on the edge of a cliff’ that Thomas found the inspiration for Under Milk Wood, and a convincing case has been made for the fictional Llareggub (read it backwards!) being based on the town.
Much in the spirit of Dylan, this harbour town has a much more anarchic and hedonistic feel to it than Aberaeron! Head for the pleasant harbour and sit on the grassy bank above it to watch the fun.
There are a good number of shops and eating options and it is just the right size to just wander around and get vaguely lost before ending up back at the harbour (all roads seem to lead there.) You will still find plenty of drinking dens as you amble around to enjoy…. little different to the days Thomas was frequenting them. His favourite, the Black Lion, is still here right on the coast path and is quite a shrine to the man.
Leaflets for the Dylan Thomas trail are widely available and following the route is a great way to explore the town – in true Thomas fashion, the trail also takes in a couple of his favourite hostelries! It is easy to understand the allure of New Quay for Dylan and his wife Caitlin, with its higgledy-piggledy twisting streets and steep lanes; a place which thrived on the trades of boat building and herring fishing and – less respectably – the shady world of smuggling. As you wander around the old stone quayside where tethered boats bob up and down on the tide, it can feel that those days are not so long ago.
If the tide is out, walk around the main Traeth Gwyn Beach and on the other side you can climb to the pretty church at Llanina dedicated to St Ina, previously King Ina of Wessex. He was looked after here by local people following a terrible shipwreck and, in gratitude, he had a church built here. The receding coastline has meant the church has moved inland a few times since the 7th century – the present one dates from around 1850 – but it’s a lovely little church in a pretty spot in woodland above the beach and a peaceful place to visit if you have the time.
Dolphins can often be seen from the end of the quay. If you want to get a bit closer to the wildlife, there are dolphin spotting boat trips from the pier from April until October. If you’re keen to get in the sea then Cardigan Bay Watersports hire out paddleboards, kayaks, sailing dinghies and windsurf boards.