Quintessential Welsh countryside – by which we mean a traditional landscape with small but robust market towns, rolling farmlands and woods and river valleys - each with its own character.
A taste of country life - stay in a country cottage in Ceredigion
Staying in a farm cottage, a converted barn or in a yurt, eco-cabin or shepherd’s hut in Ceredigion will give you an opportunity to see country life first hand.
Spring in Ceredigion means Easter lambs
The Ceredigion hills and Cambrian Mountains uplands are traditional sheep and cattle farming country. Ceredigion’s countryside bursts into activity in early spring, with fields being ploughed, hedges being laid and flocks with lambs being turned out into the fresh fields.
To see newborn lambs close up, and even get a chance to feed them, visit a farm which is geared up to accept visitors.
The lambing season at NT Llanerchaeron usually coincides with the Easter holidays, providing a perfect opportunity to watch or even help with feeding the lambs, which takes place three times a day in the Pole Barn. Maybe you will even see a lamb being born!
Fantasy Farm Park, near Llanrhystud has an animal barn with animal handling opportunities all year round, including feeding lambs in spring.
The lambing season lasts throughout spring, so if you’re staying on a farm, you can ask the farmer if you can accompany him (or her) to see the sheep with their lambs.
If you’re out and about in the Ceredigion countryside during lambing season, please always follow the Countryside Code.
Follow the plough – the farming year in Ceredigion
In spring you can watch the skill of the ploughman at Ceredigion’s ploughing matches – held each year at a different locations in the north of the county, and another in South Ceredigion, at Llandygwydd the Teifi valley. As well as ploughing with powerful modern tractors, the competition is an opportunity to show off vintage tractors and the traditional skill of ploughing with horses.
To get close to the gentle shire horse, visit the Dyfed Shire Horse Centre to the south of Cardigan on the A487 at Eglwyswrw.
Later in the year – usually in August or September, when there’s a little more time to relax and have some fun - it’s quite likely that you’ll come across a tractor run. Organised to raise money for local charities, drivers of all kinds of tractors – from the polished vintage models to the most comfortable and high tech modern machines – come together to drive along the quietest lanes of Ceredigion and to stop for a spot of lunch at a good viewpoint before returning home.
Horses on parade
Ceredigion is the heartland of Welsh pony and Cob breeding. There are stallion shows and foal shows held every spring, but the biggest and best is Barley Saturday, in Cardigan. Originally a day for farmers to hire workers and to advertise stallions ready for stud, the last Saturday in April has been knows as Barley Saturday in Cardigan since 1871, as it also marks the end of the crop sowing season, with barley being the last cereal to be sown after wheat and oats.
Today Barley Saturday is a spectacle for all to enjoy, with stallions of all kinds of breeds from Shetland and Welsh Mountain ponies to Welsh Cobs and Shire horses. After judging in the morning, the town’s main streets are closed to traffic, and the crowd gathers to watch the horses, led by their handlers, at a high stepping trotting pace, through the town, followed by a parade of vintage vehicles - cars, vans, tractors, horse drawn carriages, milk floats and gypsy wagons. Pick your spot along the high street, or choose to watch from above, from the ramparts of Cardigan’s castle.
Later in the year, the Aberaeron Welsh Pony and Cob Festival is a fabulous celebration of the Welsh Pony and Cob. Not only can you see local horses from renowned studs going through their paces, but you’ll be entertained by carriage driving, and dramatic horse acts from all over the world – all within the ‘Square Field’ at the centre of Aberaeron town.
How long does it take to shear a sheep?
Each farm has a traditional day when the sheep are gathered and sheared. The tradition goes back to when farmers would share the work of gathering the sheep from the mountain pastures, and helping neighbours with the shearing in their turn. Today you can still see shepherds and their sheepdogs skilfully gathering the sheep on the hillsides, but the shearing takes less time, and is usually done by a number of skilled contractors travelling between farms.
Catch up with the shearers as they show off their skills – many will have spent the northern winter shearing sheep on farms in New Zealand – competing against each other and the clock!
See traditional hand shearing skills at Llanerchaeron during the summer, or join the crowd at the shearing competitions held annually on farms near Lampeter , Pontrhydfendigaid and at Talybont Show. Take a stopwatch with you!
Shearing skills are only matched by sheepdog handling skills. Local sheepdog trails are eld throughout Ceredigion, most during August.
Sheepdog Trials (2019 dates)
||Banc y Darren, Aberystwyth|
| 09 & 10
||Friday & Saturday
||Cynghordy & Llanwrda|
||Llangeitho (Goyallt Charity) |
| 11 & 12
||Sunday & Monday
||New Castle Emlyn|
| 28 & 29
||Wednesday & Thursday
Country skills and crafts
Watch experts display their skills, or join in!
Visit the Ceredigion Craftmakers craft fairs at different locations around Ceredigion, or go to the craft and produce tents at local agricultural and village shows to see the product of competitive ironmongery, textile work and woodcarving.
Visit Llanerchaeron to meet gardeners, crafts people and cooks, and join them on special days to learn about their skills
Learn a new, practical skill or craft- there are all kinds of intersting one day and onger course to choose from, from apple or butterfly identification to scything a meadow, or building and cooking in a cob oven. With the soft wool of Llanwenog sheep available locally, it's no surprise that you can learn to create some wonderful items of craft or art with wool in Ceredigion.
Farm parks to visit in Ceredigion
As well as traditional farm animals such as sheep, pigs, cattle and goats there are llamas and emus at Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park. Located on a headland overlooking Cardigan Island nature reserve, the farm park is a great place to spot coastal wildlife.
Near Llanrhystud, Fantasy Farm Park has a barn where you can meet meet, and even feed some of the animals . The site includes indoor and outdoor play areas, a farm shop and carvery restaurant, and during the summer trailer tours of the farm and a nature trail through the farm’s woodlands.
Magnificent Meadows in Ceredigion
Roam the meadows and woodlands of the Llanerchaeron estate, especially on National Meadows Day. To maintain the diversity of flowering plants, herbs and grasses, the meadows of Llanerchaeron are managed by conservation grazing by a herd of Welsh Black cattle.
The coastal areas owned and managed by the National Trust in Ceredigion are grazed by a small herd of Welsh mountain ponies. Horses are used to manage the wetlands of the RSPB reserve ot Ynyshir, and at nearby Ynyslas, sheep are used to manage the delicate balance of the marsh and sandunes.
The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales reserve on the Teifi marshes even have a heard of water buffalo to help maintain a great habitat for wildlife.