We paid for everything on this trip ourselves and none of the attractions knew we would be visiting or writing this review
It was wild, wet, windy, we needed our winter coats and even our wellies, and there was no WiFi – but our long weekend of camping in Mwnt, Cardigan, at the start of the school summer holidays was utterly wonderful.
After a busy end of term, an escape to the rural West Wales coastline was just what we needed to relax and unwind and kick-start six weeks of summer.
We camped at Ty Gwyn Camping and Caravan site in Mwnt, visited Mwnt Beach, The Welsh Wildlife Centre and Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park, climbed Mwnt Hill, and dined at the brilliant and family-friendly Pizza Tipi. I even went for a run up and down the hilly coastline near the campsite. Read on for more about our trip and do let me know any tips for family-friendly places to visit in the area.
Camping at Ty Gwyn Camping and Caravan site
With a stunning cliff top location overlooking Cardigan Bay, the views at Ty Gwyn Camping are incredible. Accessed down a narrow winding hilly road, it’s so lovely and quiet, and with no WiFi or mobile signal the site really feels like a world away from city life and just what we needed to unwind. My daughter and husband were lucky enough to see dolphins swimming in the water, my children played in the adjoining field that was growing beans with other kids they met on site, and we went for lovely walks in the area.
Ty Gwyn is a lot more basic than other camp sites we’ve stayed at – the toilets and showers for example (although they were kept very clean) and the fridge/freezer area – which I think is part of the appeal for lots of people. We met a few families who book to visit every year because they love it so much, although I could imagine some people wouldn’t be quite so content with the more rustic approach. The pitches are spacious and well marked-out, with electric and non-electric available, as well as camper vans and touring caravans and a static van to hire. The slight downside is how windy it gets at night due to the site being so exposed.
On our first night we barely slept because it felt like the tent was going to blow away at any moment, although the second and third nights were much calmer. It’s a great base from which to explore the surrounding area – you can walk to Mwnt Beach (although we drove) and access the Wales Coastal Path. I went for a lovely run along the coastal and countryside lanes – which were incredibly hilly but so tranquil and with beautiful views to keep me occupied.
Camping costs from £17 a night in peak season for two people, and £3 per additional person, and electric hook up from £2 per night.
It was seeing so many gorgeous photos of Mwnt beach that made us so keen to visit the area. The sheltered sandy bay beneath the cliff tops is so picturesque and tranquil, we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves. Beautiful Wales at its best!
Sadly we didn’t have the nicest weather so didn’t see it in its full glory, but we certainly made the most of our visit, with the children building sand castles, body boarding in the sea, jumping the waves and picnicking on the sand.
There’s a good-sized car park at the top of the beach, costing a few pounds to park for the day, or free for National Trust members (which was good news for us). From there, it’s a downhill walk to the beach (not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs sadly). There’s a shop selling ice creams, drinks and beach supplies at the top, plus toilets, but very little in the way of facilities and no life guards on the beach.
Foel y Mwnt hill
After the beach, we changed into walking boots to tackle Foel y Mwnt. It didn’t take us long to climb the 76m conical elevation – but it was steeper than we thought in parts and rather windy at the top! The views from the top were impressive – on a really clear day you can even see Snowdon apparently.
We also popped into the Church of the Holy Cross at the base of the hill, a small white-washed stone building thought to date back to the 14th century. It’s used for occasional services and is open to the public during peak season day times.
Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park, Gwbert, Cardigan
It was a wet and blustery day when we visited Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park. We’d been told it was the best place to spot the dolphins which Cardigan Bay is famed for. Sadly we didn’t see any, but we did see a group of seals playfully jumping in the water, bobbing their heads up and down and jumping in the rocks. It was such a wonderful sight and one of the highlights of the holiday for my children.
Elsewhere on the farm park, we saw pigs, sheep, donkeys, horses, ponies, rabbits (including one wild one loitering near the pens, completely un-phased by our presence). I can imagine the views across the bay are stunning on a clear and sunny day. There’s a good outdoor play area, plus an indoor one featuring giant Connect 4, giant Lego-style bricks, and table football, which was really appreciated given the weather when we visited, plus a café area serving snacks, drinks and meals.
Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park. Adults £3.90, children 2-13 £2.90, under 2s free. Visit the website here.
It wouldn’t be a Welsh holiday for us without a visit to a castle and we spent a great couple of hours at Cilgerran Castle. It’s owned by National Trust but under the guardianship of Cadw, meaning members of either get free entry (great news for us as we have both!).
Thought to date back to 1108, it’s steeped in Welsh romantic drama, as the Norman Gerald of Windsor built it to keep his wife Nest, daughter of Rhys ap Tewder, once ruler of Southern Wales, safe. However she was abducted, perhaps not entirely reluctantly, by her second-cousin Owain ap Cadwgan, who stormed the castle walls with a company of 14 men and set fire to the wooden buildings. Her husband Gerald had to make a rather humiliating escape via the privy. Nest also became mistress to a number of powerful men, including King Henry I.
Famously painted by 18th century artists such as JMW Turner and Richard Wilson, visitors can climb the towers and walk the walls between, looking down onto beautiful views across the River Teifi and the Plysog.
Welsh Wildlife Centre, Pembrokeshire
Perhaps most famous for its giant willow badger, which is much-photographed on social media, this is a wonderful place to spend a few hours.
My children loved playing in the nature-themed playground, with the giant spider and nest a particular favourite, before heading out on one of the woodland trail walks.
The wetlands area of the Teifi marsh nature reserve has several bird-watching huts, perfect for spotting everything from warblers and wag tails to kingfishers. We met a local nature photographer who spends hours every week at the reserve and told us about some of his spottings. The site is part of the Welsh Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales and there’s also a visitor centre with café, a shop, learning centre and toilet facilities.
Welsh Wildlife Centre. Entry is free; parking costs £3 per day.
We’d had so many recommendations to visit PizzaTipi that it would have been rude not to head there ourselves to see what all the fuss was about. It definitely lived up to expectations, and more. Pizza Tipi is a large courtyard restaurant with a big tipi covering plenty of tables, chairs, a fire pit area, and a stage (they offer live entertainment on certain dates), as well as the kitchen area and some outdoor seating too, overlooking the river.
We visited on a lovely sunny evening – the weather definitely helped – and we were lucky enough to get a river-side table. Service was friendly and quick, it was really family-friendly with children happily playing in the grounds – and the pizzas were incredible. The menu had eight pizza options, with a daily specials board too.
Freshly stone-baked, the handmade base was light and tasty and although you can get standard topping such as tomato and cheese, and ham and pineapple, they also had some more unusual ones. My vegan pizza had a cashew cream base and was topped with kale, artichoke, capers, rocket, edible flowers and the most wonderful fresh pesto. Other specials when we visited included roast beetroot puree base with goat’s cheese, walnuts and rocket; and Moroccan lamb, tzatziki and red onion. Prices ranged from £7 to £11 with an array of sides available Our children had ice cream for dessert, Cardiff Daddy had a brownie, but sadly there was nothing vegan available – so I had a glass of wine instead!
Also in the area
We’d hoped to visit El Salsa Mexican Kitchen, which serves streetfood-style dishes for takeaway or eat in, but we hadn’t realised it was only open on certain days of the week. If we’d had more time, we’d also have liked to visit the sand dunes of Poppit Sands, and also Pengelli Forest, also owned by The Wildlife Trust for South and West Wales.
Cardigan itself is a small market town with Cardigan Castle in its centre, as well as a theatre, cinema, swimming pool and plenty of restaurants and pubs, as well as shops. We had a little look around when we visited Pizza Tipi, but didn’t spend much time here. We did most our food shopping for the week at Tesco, on Aberystwyth Road, the main road through the town. There’s also an Aldi nearby.