The coast running south from Aberystwyth is characterised by high cliffs and it is not until the cliff walker has tramped for 7 miles that there is an opportunity to descend to the sea, where steps go down to the beach at Morfa Bychan. Further south again is the village of Llanrhystud, where a stream divides the shingle and sand beaches. The church of St Rhystud, for whom the village is named, is a Grade II listed building surrounded by a conservation area. St Rhystud was a 6th century missionary who chose this spot for the foundation of a religious settlement. It is hard to imagine now, but the village saw some considerable action during the 12th century, when there was a castle built there known at the time as Castell Cadwaladr, and also other fortified sites nearby.
I have passed through Aberarth several times while travelling up and down the main coast road fringing Cardigan Bay. It looks picturesque, but due to its diminutive size it is a question of 'blink and you miss it'. In fact the village was popular as a seaside retreat in Victorian times; retiring sea captains occupied most of the bigger houses in the village in those days. Going back in time to the 12th century, the village was a seaport used by Cistercian monks to import Bath Stone from Bristol. The stone was transported inland to a site near Tregaron for the building of Strata Florida Abbey. Economic activity in the village on the part of the Cistercians included the milling of corn and fishing by means of fish traps which can still be seen at low tide. Later, in the 19th century, the village was a centre for shipbuilding. The village church has a Norman tower, but most of the present-day building dates from 1860. A mile or so inland from the village is the Derwen International Welsh Cob Centre, a stud which rears some of the most versatile and beautiful horses on Earth.
Map of the area.
|Photo by Velela, via Wikimedia Commons|