16. Newcastle Emlyn
Newcastle Emlyn is a small town with an attractive main street that winds its way south from the bridge over the Teifi. The construction of a castle here around 1240 made way for more substantial settlement in place of the feudal dwellings that stood next to the Teifi at this point, and by the 14 th century the town was recognised as a borough by royal charter. By the 19 th century the town’s livestock fairs had become important to the local economy, and at one time as many as ten were held annually (there are now two in May and September).
Down from a 19 th century high of over thirty, Newcastle Emlyn now has six pubs, and of these The Coopers Arms has views of the river and castle, and The Bunch of Grapes is locally known for its live music. The main street has shops selling antiques and crafts.
Hanes Emlyn, the Newcastle Emlyn History Society, exhibits an extensive collection of photographs and information on the town’s history in Market Hall (see map). Opening times vary – inquire at the tourist information office adjacent.
The castle here, built around 1240 by Meredith ap Rhys Gryg and the only in the area built in stone by native (rather than occupying) forces, is strategically positioned with the Teifi forming a natural defense on three sides. It saw a significant amount of fighting and rebuilding during its operation, including occupation by Owain Glyndwr’s army and eventual destruction during the Civil War at the hands of the Parliament forces. The myth that the last dragon was slain in the town of Newcastle Emlyn probably stems from Glyndwr’s loss of the castle to English troops in 1403 – his standard bearing a red winged serpent falling to the attackers.
The ruins that remain stand soberly over the Teifi that flows over a fish pass and wier below.
For general information on the town see www.newcastle-emlyn.com The website of Hanes Emlyn (Newcastle Emlyn History Society) is also an excellent source of information on local history and has many photographs of the town and area.
1) There is a good path around the castle with picnic tables near the river. The path is quite short, following the river’s meander around the ruins, which can also be freely wandered through. There are information boards in car park at entrance. Some sections are not easily wheelchair accessible.
2) On the south side of the Teifi there is a path from Newcastle Emlyn to Cenarth. The route passes along green lanes for the most part without steep gradients. The route is around 5km (3miles).
For a map and details of the walk (with descriptions of sights along the way) see:
3) Starting at Cwm Cou about 2 ½ km (1 ½ miles) north-west of Newcastle Emlyn there is a footpath towards Cenarth, which, after a stretch through wood and onto small lanes, can be linked up to the Cenarth gorge footpath.
(The above two walks could be linked to produce a long circular walk with some sections on road.)
OS Map: Explorer 185 ( Newcastle Emlyn/ Castell Newydd Emlyn)
Newcastle Emlyn grid ref.: SN3040
Bus: The 460 and 461 services ( Carmarthen – Cardigan) are probably the most useful bus links.
For times see: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=483
Parking: In the town, next to the castle (pay and display).