St Dogmaels - Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Northern Section.
St Dogmaels is the village at the end of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, and indeed at the very end of Pembrokeshire itself. Set several miles inland up the Teifi River estuary, it’s only one mile from the larger town of Cardigan which is the border with Ceredigion county. It’s a pretty place to end your walk, the winner of Welsh Village of the year in 2006 with three pubs, tea shops and a useful local store, and after the wilds of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a beautifully sheltered location hidden up the estuary in a little valley.
St Dogmaels himself was a celtic monk with an aristocratic background (he was the son of a local prince) and he founded his monastic cell here in the 5th century. The place remained a sacred spot, which by the 12th century had a flourishing Abbey run by Benedictine monks from France.
You can visit the impressive and extensive remains of the abbey and walk through the north and west walls of the nave, which are still standing strong amongst the foundations of many of the other buildings. In summer months, if you are lucky with your dates, you can watch open air Shakespeare plays here in a most atmospheric outdoor location.
Run by and for the local community, The Coach House below the abbey is an excellent café, small museum and visitor centre that displays a collection of early Christian and Medieval stones that once adorned the abbey.
The Victorians ,not to be outdone by the abbey, decided to build the impressive Church of St Thomas on the same site and it’s well worth the short walk to view both. The Abbey monks were keen fishermen, using single person coracle boats, as well as more cunning traps based around the tides and sand bar to catch their food. They devised a tidal fish trap for salmon and sea trout that is so huge that it can easily be picked out from aerial photographs of the Poppit Sands end of the river.
In later years, after the Abbey was destroyed, the village grew in status as the first sheltered inland stop for boats loaded with coal and limestone that had made it across the treacherous Cardigan Bay sandbar at the mouth of the estuary.
At the little grassy quay on the west side of the village in a very pretty spot you will find the commemorative marker plaque for the start/end of the Pemborkeshire Coast Path, reminding you that it’s an impressive 186 miles you have walked here from Amroth at the southern end of the trail.
Accommodation here is in small B&B’s, though there is a good hotel option midway between Poppit Sands and St Dogmaels around 1 mile before the finish of the trail, as well as further options nearby in the larger regional capital town of Cardigan.