Dyfed, named after an ancient Welsh kingdom, is what is known as a preserved county of Wales. It was created on 1 April 1974 by amalgamating three pre-existing counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. It was abolished twenty-two years later when the three original counties were reinstated, Cardiganshire being renamed Ceredigion.
The southern halves of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire are known as the 'little England beyond Wales'. This has long been an English enclave; Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) had his power-base here, after all.
As you head north the place names and the people become progressively more Welsh, but the area still feels more like the Marches than deepest,
darkest Wales. That is until you get into Cerdigion.
Fine coastline, blessedly traffic free, a bit like Cornwall, but with less reliable weather.
Remains of a Norman Castle, only half of which still remains substantially above ground level. Fine views down to the Teifi river, where coracle fishermen can still sometime be spotted.
National Trust Handbook entry detailing opening times, ticket prices, facilities, etc. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/wales/cilgerran-castle
Tucked away behind the main car park, it has to be said that the ruins of Llandovery Castle lack the wow factor.
Started by the Normans in 1116, the castle changed hands many times in the following years in battles not only between the English and Welsh, but also between rival Welsh warlords.
Eventually in 1282 the English defeated Llywelyn the Last and it fell to Edward I. Most of what we see today dates to the re-fortification that occurred after Llywelyn's defeat.
It was attacked by Owain Glyndwr during his rebellion, and in 1401 a Glyndwr sympathizer named Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan was executed here in the presence of Henry IV. A very fine statue to him now stands on the motte, dominating the car park below.
In 1490 it was abandoned and, as with so many castles, it was slighted and rendered completely useless after Cromwell's victory in the English Civil War.
External Links and References
Lots of photos and information from the Catles of Wales site. http://www.castlewales.com/llandov.html
New Quay Toll Boards
On the wall of what is now the yacht club on the main pier in the pretty little harbour of Cei Newydd (New Quay) are some interesting old Toll Boards that have recently been conserved and re-framed.
The list of items that were once shipped (or at least potentially shipped) through New Quay is impressive, as are the quantities.
Indigo (a dye) was charged by the hundredweight (just over 50 kg) as, more distressingly, was ivory. Indigo was 4d per cwt whereas ivory was 13 times as much at 2/6.
This difference between everyday items and luxuries is reflected elsewhere: A marble chimney piece would be charged 3/- while a common one was only 6d. Musical instruments were also charged 6d but a pianoforte would cost you 5/-.
As for a large organ, that would set you back a whole pound. I can't help wondering how many of those came in through New Quay.
St. Brynach's Church, Nevern (Nanhyfer)
Famous for its 4m (13ft) high elaborately patterned Great Celtic cross, dating from the 10th century, one of the finest in Wales. It is said that the first cuckoo arriving in Wales sings its very first song from the top of the cross on St Brynach's feast day, 7th April.
The church is also well known for its collection of Celtic memorial stones, one of which - to Maelgwyn (Maglocunus) - is inscribed in both Latin and Ogham, and acted as a sort of "Rosetta Stone" to the Ogham script.
Surely the most elegant of all the dolmens. Its beautiful cuttlebone shaped capstone rests so delicately on the points of the three supporting uprights that it is difficult to believe that the ancients could ever have covered it all with a mound of earth.
Reminds me of Concorde, somehow, but perhaps that's just me.
Most noticeable are the substantial remains of the brick-built road stone hoppers on the quayside. Granite was quarried nearby, and hauled up to the top of the hill behind the village.
Here it was crushed and sorted into different grades which were stored in the hoppers until ships, which could barely fit into the harbour, came to transport the stone all around the UK.
In addition to the granite, slate from nearby Abereiddy was also shipped from here, and there was a brickworks and a lime kiln. There is a fine cliff top walk from Porthgain, past the remote beach at Traeth Llyfin to Abereiddy and its Blue Pool (the old slate quarry).
Driving along narrow country roads in deepest, darkest Ceredigion, blindly following the sat nav, I suddenly stumbled on this group of sculptures in a field at Brynamlwg outside the village of Penuwch
According to the information board they date from 1993 when "Penuwch Primary School was invited by The Welsh Arts Council to research and record in a multi medium art form the history of the village and its adjoining communities".
It takes its title from lines in a poem by local bard John Roderick Rees. These read:
Oni welwch chi ddyrnaid ohonom
Yn cyndynnu glynu wrth yr erwau hyn,
Yn gelodaidd glymu wrth yr erwau hyn
Rydym ni yma o hyd.
Don't you see the handful of us
Clinging desperately to those acres.
Attached like leeches to these few acres?
We are still here.
Perhaps the smallest city in the British Isles, St Davids is, in fact, no more than a large, reasonably attractive village.
The small, but perfectly formed, Cathedral hides away from Viking Raiders in the bottom of a valley.
Next to it are the magnificent remains of the old Bishops Palace.
St Davids Cathedral
Not the easiest site to navigate, but there is plenty tucked away in there https://www.stdavidscathedral.org.uk/
Teifi Valley Railway
Short narrow-gauge line built on the track bed of a former standard-gauge branch of the Great Western Railway.
Trains used run from Henllan, three and a quarter kilometres (two miles) up to Llandyfriog, stopping at the impressive Pont-pren-shitw bridge on the way back.
Note: In Welsh the 's' and 'h' are pronounced as separate consonants, not the 'ssh' sound they make in English. Just as well, really.
One of the primary objectives of the railway is to attract tourists to the area, and a worthy enough objective that is too.
However, it is difficult for an old cynic like me to shake off the thought that they are somehow 'cashing in' on the popularity of Welsh narrow-gauge railways, rather than undertaking a serious exercise in preservation.
They do have a nice collection of industrial diesel locos, however, together with a couple of recently acquired steam engines. Furthermore in 2006 the line was extended as far as the River Teifi.