Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cardigan, Wales: Higgledy-Piggledy Streets, a River, and a Castle

Cardigan is a short bus ride to the west of Newport through green fields and valleys full of sheep. It’s a small shopping centre, and little remains of its illustrious past as one of Wales’ most important ports.

Town Centre
The town is laid out higgledy-piggledy, with streets full of odd twists and turns. There is one long, narrow high street winding its way from one end of the town centre to the other. Stray off this shopping street, however, and you’ll find twisting roads leading nowhere and an unexpected cluster of shops in what may once have been an inn’s inner courtyard.

It doesn’t appear to be a rich town. Many houses are in poor condition, and there are no splashy retail parks or dazzling window displays. But there are a variety of businesses and two larger supermarkets on the outskirts of town.

Not to be missed is Bara Menyn Bakehouse – a lovely bakery and café on one of the narrow side streets.

Cardigan, at the mouth of the Teifi River, was founded in 1110, shipping everything from corn and tar to salt, prunes, and limestone.

By the 1800s, many people immigrated to North America from Cardigan – hence the founding of Cardigan, New Brunswick.

The estuary began to silt up in the late 1800s making it difficult for large ships to enter the port and the railway arrived in Cardigan in 1886. Twenty years later, there were few signs of the busy, profitable port it had once been.

You can still see some of the old warehouses and there are lovely views downstream. It’s unfortunate that there are no riverside paths.

Cardigan Castle 
Cardigan Castle dates from the early 12th century and was the site of Wales’ first Eisteddfod (Welsh festival of literature, music, and performance) in 1176. It was largely destroyed by Cromwell’s soldiers during the English Civil War.

Very little remains of the original castle, but it’s been recently renovated and reopened and is well worth visiting for its gardens, castle walls, and the exhibits in Castle Green House.

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