If you are planning to walk between Llanon and Aberystwyth make some preparations. The 12 miles from Llanon to Aberystwyth is the most isolated section of the path we have covered to date. There are no towns after Llanrhystud, only 2 farm houses and a caravan park (more on this later). So check the weather, there is no shelter. Take food and drink with you, no chance to stock up Jelly Babies (Google these if you are outside the UK). But because of this isolation it is so much more satisfying to walk. We saw few people, and most of those were near to Aberystwyth.
After leaving Llanon the walk is easy along the flat shoreline. I kept a look out for the Monks fish traps along the shore, but the tide was in, so no lucky there at at Llanon. But just outside Llanrhystud we came across 4 almost perfectly preserved lime kilns. It not unusual to come across a single lime kiln along the coast, where limestone was processed to create lime to be spread on the field, making the acid soils ‘sweeter’. But 4 in a single line suggests that the surrounding flat coastal land was fertile and needed the lime to remain so. Boats carrying limestone and coal would have beached at high tide on the shallowing shelving beach, and the cargo unloaded directly underneath the limekiln just above the shoreline.
I couldn’t see any of the mediaeval fish traps, but there were lines of robust wood sticking out of the sand. These are very reminiscent of the fishing traps along the Severn Estuary.
After Llanrhystud the path climbs quickly as the as the flat glacial till give way steep, precipitous cliffs up to 400 foot high. The path clings to the edge at times, and I wouldn’t like to be up there in a strong wind. The next highlight of the walk, well for me more than Aunty, is the Penderi Cliffs Nature Reserve. Hugging the cliff edge for almost 2km this unusual reserve main attraction is the steeply west-facing Sessile Oak woodlands, which include an interesting assemblage of other native species such as Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Hazel, Small-leaved Lime. At the base seals haul up in the autumn to pup. The freehold of the northern half of the SSSI was purchased in 1966 with grant aid from WWF and forms the reserve. The cliffs and scree below the grazing line to the south of this have been leased since 1977, with other sections being privately owned. But alas there wasn’t really any chance to explore, Aberystwyth was calling to the north.
The first sign of any habitation along this stretch was almost half way, which is a reminder of the influence that the monastery was able to exert along this narrow ledge of land between the hills to the east and the sea to the west. Today this take the form of a large farmhouse, but it’s really the name that shows us this area was once farmed by the monastery – Mynachdy’r Graig, which translates as Monk’s House on the Rock. There’s some remains outside the farm that may have once been once part of the grange. Even today it’s a fair trick in the car along farm tracks to get here from the road. If you like isolation, and a constant battering from the wester wind, then this would be the place for you.
The continues up and down the hills, alternating between hugging the shore line to climbing to almost 400 feet above the water below, before reaching All Wen offering a great view over Abersytwyth and the the western coast northwards, including a clear view of Penparcau Iron Age Fort brooding over Aberystwyth, all the way to Cader Idris, the Rhinogs and Lleyn in the distance. These are yet to come on our trek. It is not an exaggeration to say that the path down from Alltwen is steep, but it is very steep. But after a short walk along Tanybwlch Beach and following the Afon Ystwyth we reached Aberystwyth after a great 13 mile walk, tired but with a real sense of achievement.