The gorge here is one of nine along the Teifi, and was probably formed – at least initially – by sub-glacial streams rushing under the retreating ice. The pressure and therefore erosive force of these was enough to alter the earlier form of the Teifi valley, creating deep cuts that tend to be straighter and less meandering than the river course elsewhere.
The fast-flowing waters of Cenarth Falls are well known for the yearly spectacle of the salmon and sea trout migration (Salmon mainly in September and October, and sea trout between June and August).
For centuries the salmon here have provided a source of income for coracle fishermen, and this trade has played an important part in the history of Cenarth and the lower Teifi. Coracle fishing went into decline in the second half of the 19 th century with the government’s introduction of fishing licensing, but its importance can be gauged by the operation of an estimated 300 coracles on the Teifi in 1861, 28 of these working above Llechryd bridge. Earlier designs of these fishing craft – which are small enough for the fisherman to carry on his back – were made with a wicker frame over which tanned animal hide was stretched. This form was later replaced by a willow and hazel structure covered over with flannel dipped in tar and resin.
National Coracle Centre
The National Coracle centre overlooks the falls at Cenarth and houses an exhibition on the history of coracle fishing and coracle construction, as well as an international collection of coracles including examples from several Asian countries and North America.
The centre stands in the grounds of an important 17 th century flour mill, which was once a focal point for the local economy (remaining in use until 1939) and property of the nearby Cawdor Estate. There are good views of salmon leap and the bridge (built 1787), which beautifully tip-toes its way across the rapids.
The centre also has a shop selling books, CDs, and models.
Open: Easter to end of October
10:30am to 5:30pm (7 days)
Out of season by appointment only
Upstream from the bridge a narrow footpath leads along the wooded side the gorge. The path skirts the Teifi for a few hundered metres before turning up the hill at the gorge’s entrance. The path meets a small road that can be followed to the left, returning to Cenarth along the top of the gorge. The loop is around 2km (1 ¼ miles) and allows for lovely views of the bridge and river. Not wheelchair accessible.
Richard J. Colyer, The Teifi: Scenery and Antiquities of a Welsh River, (Llandysul: Gomer Press, 1987)
Os Maps: Explorer 198 (Cardigan and New Quay); Explorer 185 ( Newcastle Emlyn)
Cenarth grid ref.: SN269416
Bus: The 460 and 461 services ( Carmarthen – Cardigan) run via Cenarth.
For times visit: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=483
Parking: There is a car park (with an honesty box) below the bridge next to the falls.
Facilities: pubs, shops, toilets, information boards.