Day one (around 42 miles/68km)
St Davids is Britain’s smallest city. It’s an arty place (painters and potters love it), home to St Davids Cathedral that’s central to Wales’ story. St David, our patron saint, founded a religious community here in the sixth century that evolved into a siren-like cathedral that draws pilgrims from far and wide.
You don’t have to be spiritually inclined to fall under its spell. This soaring, purple-stoned medieval building, nestling in a grassy hollow, is full of treasures. It stands next to the Bishop’s Palace which, although in ruin, retains echoes of its former splendour in its arched parapets and decorative windows.
St Davids’ quirky character is reinforced by the presence of Doctor Beynon’s Bug Farm, a research and visitor centre where you’ll learn all about the insect world and sustainable agriculture.
Approaching Fishguard, Melin Tregwynt gives Wales’ traditional woollen industry a contemporary twist. Dating from the 17th century, the mill now produces cool new designs and fabrics sold in top shops worldwide.
After Newport take a short detour to Pentre Ifan Cromlech, a skeletal burial chamber built around 3–4000BC. It is made of the same Pembrokeshire ‘bluestones’ that somehow found their way to Stonehenge, Britain’s most famous prehistoric monument, almost 200 miles/322km away.
Day two (about 48 miles/77km)
Cardigan Castle’s recent makeover won it the UK’s ‘Restoration of the Year’. It’s not your typical castle: ancient walls enclose a handsome Georgian mansion and stylish ‘1176’ restaurant, named after the date when Wales’ first eisteddfod was held here.
For Cardigan Bay at its most idyllic take the side road to Mwnt, a perfect crescent of sand – and perfect picnic spot – topped by cliffs and a tiny church, dazzling in its coat of whitewash.
New Quay partly inspired Llareggub, the fabled village brought to life in Dylan Thomas’ masterwork, Under Milk Wood. Cardigan Bay is not short of salty old ports like New Quay. Aberaeron is another. From here to Aberystwyth, the A487 hugs a cliff-backed coast with spectacular, far-reaching views along Cardigan Bay.