The New Quay Cliff Walk immortalised in 'Quite Early One Morning'
There is an excellent walk from the centre of New Quay immortalised in the Dylan Thomas poem 'Quite early one morning'. It takes the visitor high above the town where the sounds of the community can be heard from a considerable distance.
From Gingero's Coffe on the sea front, walk up Church Street and take the second right in to Albion Terrace. When you come to a cross roads with water street, continue straight across into Lewis Terrace.
Continue to the end of Lewis Terrace where the photo on the left was taken, and where you will see a footpath sign. From here the path becomes very steep, zigzagging up the edge of the cliff.
As you climb this path, you will see the quarry below on
your right where the rock for the 'New Pier' and many of the
houses in New Quay was quarried. Below Lewis Terrace is Rock
Street, so named as it was the road from the quarry to the
In the poem 'Quite early one morning' Dylan mentions the path along the cliffs to the south of New Quay: ' I walked on to the cliff path again, the town behind and below waking up now so very slowly; I stopped and turned and looked....' .
From the top of the path there is an excellent view of New Quay. This is also a good place to see the rare cliff-dwelling red-billed crow called the Chough. There are only a few dozen pairs of this bird in West Wales, yet we saw ten or more along this path one day in April.
Dylan Thomas continues: 'Smoke from another chimney now. They were burning their last night's dreams. Up from a chimney came a long-haired wraith like an old politician. Someone had been dreaming of the Liberal Party. But no, the smoky figure wove, attenuated, into a refined and precise grey comma. Someone had been dreaming of reading Charles Morgan. Oh! the town was waking now and I heard distinctly, insistent over the slow-speaking sea, the voices of the town blown up to me. And some of the voices said.............'
At the very top, the path levels out giving a fine view of the whole of the Ceredigion coast to the north. On a clear day one can see the whole of Cardigan Bay as far north as the Lleyn Peninsula. Snowdon, Plynlimon, and Cader Idris are all prominent mountain peaks.
The path here is bordered by Blackthorn and Gorse. On the left an old stone wall is heavily encrusted by a white lichen - testimony to the purity of the air in this region.
Bird life here includes the Stonechat, Peregrine, Kestrel, Chough and various species of gull. The Butterflies we saw were the Green-Veined White, Small Copper, Common Blue, Painted lady, Small Tortoishell and Skipper.
Care must be taken, for at times the path comes perilously close to the edge of the cliff, especially above Bird Rock. Pausing at one of the viewpoints, look carefully for Grey Seals on the rocks below or swimming close to shore. Seals can often be seen near fishing boats and you may have an excellent view of the Bottlenose Dolphins that frequent the coastal waters here.
Bird Rock is named after the large number of seabirds there. When we walked the path on September 24th, the seabird nesting season had finished, but many Cormorants were perched on the flat rocks to the right of this photo.
Just past Bird Rock is the Coast Guard Station and the Cardigan Bay Lookout Shelter. inside the shelter are identification boards for local wildlife as well as a panorama identifying places on the coast to the south. Also the following extracts from the Coastguard log:
Christmas Day 1926 - Lifeboat called out to the wreck of schooner 'Guiding
Star' of Plymouth which was found stranded under the cliffs at Tregynan Isaf
Farm with all sail set, no-one on board. Search was made but no trace of crew
29th January 1946 - Reported at 11.25 that a Spitfire Pilot had baled out over Tresaith and was drifting into Bay. Lifeboat searched extensively for parachute and returned at 15.40 having failed to locate pilot and aircraft.
4th and 5th February 1946 - H. M. submarine 'Universal' drifting casualty. Crew taken off by Fishguard and Aberystwyth lifeboats. Coastguard staff kept watch and stood by on being retired from watchman duties. Altogether a good show as far as readiness was concerned.
There are now 3 choices. You can either turn around and return to New Quay the way you came, pass through the gate by the shelter and return to New Quay through Penrhyn Farm and then along the main Llandyssul Road, or continue along the path to Cwmtydu - another three miles of coastal path. The photo on the right shows the view to the south. Ynys Lochtyn is the peninsula in the distance. Just beyond it is Llangrannog. Aberporth is on the horizon.
We chose the circular route to return to New Quay. Opposite the lookout shelter is a gate leading on to the track to the Coastguard Station. Follow the track until you reach a farm - then following the signs around Penrhyn Farm and on past the caravan park to the main road. On the corner is the Penrhiwllan Inn with the Smugglers Haunt Restaurant - very convenient for a swift pint after a long walk.
Follow the main road downhill towards New Quay. Part way down the hill there is a road on the left, here you will find the Church of St Llwchaiarn.
There was a very ancient church here, possibly dating back to the 9th Century. Unfortunately this was replaced in 1865 by a newer church - shown here on the right. In the graveyard are many memorials to seamen of New Quay and interestingly the grave of John Patrick and his wife Sophie - the Grand parents of 'Jack Pat' - Dylan Thomas' friend Jack Patrick, Proprietor of the 'Black Lion' in New Quay.
Leaving the church, we returned to the narrow streets of New Quay and recalled the words of Dylan Thomas once again as we passed the pristine cottages overlooking the sea: 'And I walked in the timeless morning past a row of white cottages almost expecting that an ancient man with a great beard and an hour-glass and a scythe under his night-dressed arm might lean from the window and ask me the time. I would have told him: 'Arise old counter of the heartbeats of albatrosses, and wake the cavernous sleepers of the town to a dazzling new morning.'
Which is exactly what it was that day!