I swear this isn’t some sort of walking holiday, or that I am re-enacting Wild but in West Wales instead of the Pacific Crest Trail. I will admit that there are similarities. A woman alone, hiking along an official national trail of significance. But that’s about it in the way of similarities. Otherwise, you will think something happened to me to bring me here.
No, the main impetus for this Welsh adventure occurred when I realized a few days ago that my location in Wales is close to the national Wales Coast Path, which, as the name implies, runs along the entirety of the Welsh coast.
When I was a child, and I had family members to visit in various parts of rural Colorado, I used to go out and hike for hours by myself. The hikes for the past two days have felt like that: just getting outside and walking for hours, no end (or summit) in sight. There really isn’t a beginning or an end, just a path to follow and wander along.
I broke the hikes up into two parts. Day one was the hike from Mwnt to Gwbert and back to Ferwig. Today was Ferwig to Gwbert to Cardigan and back to Ferwig. Altogether I think I hiked about 12 miles in two days.
I tend to make terrible time, as I am not as fast a hiker as my brother and my father, so spent the better part of the past two days on what should have only taken a few hours round trip. But it was so nice to just amble along, not knowing where exactly the path would lead, viewing the sites along the way.
This portion of the Wales Coast Path, the Ceredigion Coast Path, takes you from the beach up along the cliffs overlooking the Irish Sea to the north, and Cardigan Island and the Bay to the south. These rugged cliffs are made of beautiful black slate that pushes up from the sea floor in crags and uplifts. Seals swim in the coves and the open waters, and gorse, blackberry brambles and ferns blanket the cliff sides. I was careful walking along, as one wrong move could send you hurtling toward the edge. Many parts of the path take one through fields of farm land as well. Because it has been raining so much, these parts of the path were muddy and slippery, and hard to navigate, and I bumped into the occasional (very annoyed) farmer on their tractors, plowing the fields. But there are lovely parts that take one down to the bay, walking along the sand, and through meadows, into the woods, and along the river banks.
I stopped to draw along the way, recording the soft organic slopes of the land against the geometric lines of the slate cliffs.
Today was a wonderful, sunny day, and I bumped into many people out and about enjoying the weather, chatting with them for a minute or two. Most cannot figure out why a woman from Colorado would come to West Wales. I kept saying, “It’s beautiful here!” to which they smile and agree and say, “We think so!”
I ended up at Cardigan Castle at the end, which is about 900 years old, and was recently restored by the town to great pride. There are some very interesting structures there, but to be honest, the arch created with whale bones is the most interesting to me. I plan to go back and draw it when I am not quite so tired from hiking.
I had lots of wonderful deep thoughts along my hike, and if I truly were Cheryl Strayed, and this really was Wild, I would probably write them all down here. But instead I am an artist, and tonight and tomorrow plan to instead make paintings, and draw, and absorb into my hands all the wonderful, lovely things I have seen over the past few days.