Poppit Sands Beach
On the north coast of Pembrokeshire, Triangular Poppit Sands sits at the entrance of the Teifi Estuary, near St Dogmaels.
At low water the sands stretch out north-west for about half a mile from base to apex of the triangle shaped inlet, with just a small gap where the Cardigan Bar between Poppit and Gwbert partially blocks the entrance.
In calm weather when the tide is more than half way in, Poppit is a fine bathing place, but bathers have to be wary of the incoming tide which can cut them off, with treacherous dips and channels between them and safety if they venture too far out. Treated with respect, it is an ideal location for a family day out. In the right conditions there is plenty of space for beach games of cricket or football and for wearing out over-active toddlers. There is often a brisk sea breeze, too, which is ideal for kite flying, while gentle surfing is possible when the tide is right.
If the weather is not ideal for beach days, then there is plenty of interest at nearby St Dogmaels and Cardigan to occupy the mind and body. The ruin of St Dogmaels Abbey, which is well-preserved and maintained by the Welsh Ancient Monuments authority, CADW, is full of history and there are interpretive displays to provide tourists with information about its establishment and its fluctuating fortunes up to the Reformation, when, of course, it fell victim to Henry VIII’s spiteful dissolution programme.
The market town of Cardigan, across the estuary is also an interesting place to see, full of atmosphere, its old Guild Hall beautifully restored and its 12th-century castle currently undergoing repair and restoration.
A company calling itself “A Bay to Remember’” runs special exploration trips into the southern end of Cardigan Bay, which has a population estimated at 250 bottlenose dolphins, the largest resident dolphin population in Europe. The boat can be boarded at Cardigan’s Prince Charles Quay, where the company has its booking office and HQ, or at Poppit or Gwbert on the other side of the estuary. The boat goes out into the Cardigan Bay Special area of Conservation, where dolphins have been seen on 90% of occasions.
These boast also take in trips round Cardigan Island, an important nesting area for a variety of seabirds, to Mwnt and Cemaes Head, where there is a colony of Atlantic Grey seals and some of the highest cliffs in Wales with spectacular sea caves into which the boats can go. And if the one hour Bay Explorer is not enough, the tripper can take can extended voyage of exploration, increasing their chances of seeing the dolphins and other wildlife.
Poppit can be either a starting point or a finishing line for the 180-mile long Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Footpath between Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire, the other extreme being at Amroth on the border a few miles north-east of Tenby. The keen coastal path walker can reach Newport to the south in a few hours, or even Fishguard if they keep up a good pace.