Aberystwyth was always “Aber” on the railway – as a chalked destination on a parcels van perhaps. We’d be travelling by rail today, for a leisurely stroll along the cliff-top path from Borth to the university town.
The rain that started minutes after our arrival in Borth accompanied us to the top of the headland; a little way beyond it eased, and we were soon able to pack away the waterproofs and enjoy the coastal scenery. The cliffs are not high, but there is plenty of interest along the route, not least in the stripy strata clearly visible in the rocks.
The shingle spit at Wallog, “Sarn Gynfelyn”, is one of several similar features of the coast. Of man-made appearance, they are the stuff of myth and legend – ancient ways to submerged kingdoms.
Clarach Bay is full of caravans and chalets. It’s not the prettiest part of the walk, and we pass through quickly – but a little way beyond, back on the cliff path, there’s a picnic bench. It provides a quiet spot for a break and a late lunch before we arrive at Aber, to walk along the promenade and enjoy a well-earned ice-cream (“Mario’s” – excellent!)
“Aber” is perhaps a touch ambiguous, and appropriately so. The full name means “mouth of the Ystwyth” – but that river makes a rather inconspicuous approach to the town, sneaking into the Rheidol just yards from the open sea. It’s the latter that is more obvious, providing the harbour for numerous pleasure craft – and, as we waited on the station platform, a Vale of Rheidol train steamed gently into the former Carmarthen line platforms. Aberrheidol perhaps? If nothing else, it would be easier to spell for us poor pob sais.