The River Teifi defines the southern border of Ceredigion. Rising at the remote Teifi Pools in the Cambrian Mountains, it progresses through wildlife rich wetlands and beautiful farmland, and speeds through narrow gorges before reaching the sea at Aberteifi - the historic port town of Cardigan. At 75 miles (122km) in length, the Teifi is one the longest rivers that flow from source to sea wholly within Wales.
The special landscapes of the Teifi
The sinuous course of the River Teifi and its tributaries are designated Special Area of Conservation.
Cors Caron, a National Nature Reserve and a RAMSAR wetland site, dominates the upper reaches of the Teifi, almost completely fillings the valley. At over 860 acres it is the largest mire in Britain, and is not one, but three active raised bogs - areas of deep peat that have built up over the last 12,000 years.
Above (clockwise from top) Teifi Pools, Cors Caron, Longwood near Lampeter and the Teifi Estuary.
There are several other nature reserves along the Teifi, varying from broadleaved woodland slopes to watermeadows and the reed edged estuary flats. Pine marten and red squirrels inhabit the wooded slopes to the east of the Teifi between Tregaron and Lampeter and there are deer, and even water buffalo to be seen near Cardigan.
Visit the the Welsh Wildlife Centre at Cilgerran, surrounded by the Teifi Marshes National Nature Reserve where you can spot all kinds of wildlife, including otters and the colourful kingfisher.
Both Cors Caron and The Teifi Marshes reserves have boardwalks which make them easily accessible.
The Teifi - renowned fishing river
Anglers, including an American President, travel from all over the world to fish on the river Teifi, a renowned fly-fishing river where the prize catch is trout, salmon and ‘sewin’ (sea trout). There are several angling clubs who mangage beats along the Teifi from Tregaron to Llandysul.
At Cenarth, salmon can be seen leaping over the falls, and there are a number of skilled fishermen licenced to fish on the river using coracles - flat bottomed, oval shaped boats constructed from willow and hazel. See coracles being raced at Cenarth and Cilgerran at village festivals in August, or at the annual Cardigan River and Food Festival.
Above left: Cenarth Falls ; Above right: Coracle racing on the Teifi
A long history - settlement and industry along the river Teifi
People have lived and worked by the river Teifi since Neolithic times and there are a number of iron age hill forts sited at strategic points along its course. Pen y Bannau hillfort overlooks the ruins of Strata Florida medieval abbey on he uppor reches of the Teifi at Pontrhydfendigaid, there are a series of hillforts between Tregaron and Llandysul, including a number hidden on the ridge of Longwood near Lampeter.
Cardigan castle was the first castle to be built in stone by a Welsh prince whilst Cilgerran Castle was built by a Norman lord. Both were captured and recaptured, changing hands several times between the Welsh and the Normans and later, the English. Legend has it that the last dragon or wyvern was slain at Newcastle Emlyn.
Mills in the Teifi Valley were at the centre of the Welsh woollen trade in the 19th and early 20th century, producing flannel, tweed, blanket, quilts and shawls. Visit the restored woollen mill complex at the National Wool Museum in Drefach Felindre, Rock Mill near Llanadysul, or the The Welsh Quilt Centre at Lampeter, Jane Beck's blanket emporium at Llwynygroes and the Jen Jones quilt shop near Llanybydder.
The Teifi valley is a thriving agricultural area, with markets, agricultural shows and food festivals to enjoy.
Above left: Carved doorway of Strata Florida Abbey Above right: St David's Building, UWTSD, Lampeter
Peaceful places of learning, faith and culture along the Teifi
The Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida was a major centre of learning during the Middle Ages, and today the site has a special, peaceful atmosphere. Lampeter is the home of the oldest university college in Wales, and birthplace of Welsh rugby.
The churches and chapels of the Teifi valley are often set on raised ground, such as St Caron at Tregaron, St David's church at Llanddewi Brefi, the whitewashed Llanwenog set in a circular churchyard, or St Cynllo and its elaborate High Victorian decor. St Tysul at Llandysul, sits near the river and has a distinguishing high tower. Spot the carved script on the 'ogham' stone in the churchard of Llanllawddog at Cenarth, a stone's throw from the holy well dedicated to the saint.
The rough triangle between Llandysul, Lampeter and Aberaearon, was dubbed the 'Black Spot' of Unitarianism by early Methodists. St David's College ( now part of the University of Wales Trinity St David's) at Lampeter was established in 1822 to train Anglican clergymen; The Catholic national shrine of Wales is to be found in a new church dedicated to Our Lady of the Taper at Cardigan, whilst a farmhouse overlooking the Teifi near Llanybydder became the multi faith ashram, Skanda Vale.
Find your epic - adventure on the River Teifi
The waters of the Teifi are popular with kayakers and canoeists - from the championship courses through the rapids at Llandysul, or the slower waters below the ramparts of Cilgerran castle.
There are plenty of gentle, quiet country lanes to take your bike out for a run or cycle the Ystwyth Trail, which follows the route of the former railway line between Aberystwyth and Tregaron, along the edge of Cors Caron. There are cycling, walking and running clubs where you can join locals on regular outings, or look out for competitions like the Tregaron 'bog trotter' or triathlon races.
There is also a range of gentler pursuits to choose from: traditional countryside skill or try a craft such as pottery, jewellery, stained glass and painting, or relax with a yoga retreat or walking holiday with Teifi Valley tourism businesses
Kayaking on the Teifi at Llandysul and cycling the Ystwyth Trail along Cors Caron