The Teifi has its origin in Llyn Teifi, which is one of the several lakes known collectively as Teifi Pools. These are located in Mid Wales north of Ceredigion County. This vast area, with a very small population, is part of what is sometimes called the “Welsh desert.” The river flows past the Strata Florida Abbey and then through Pontrhydfendigaid before reaching the main river valley floor. Here it passes by one of the greatly raised blackbirds of Great Britain, Gors Goch Glan Teifi, also known as Tregaron Bog. Over the next 30 miles, Teifi meanders southwest in a gentle arc, passing through the villages and villages of Tregaron, Llanddewi Brefi, Cwmann, Llanybydder, Llandysul, Newcastle Emlyn, Lampeter, , Cenarth, Llechryd and finally the town Of Cardigan. The river becomes tidal below Llechryd and then descends into the town of Cardigan through the steep Cilgerran Gorge. Below Cardigan Town, the river widens into a wide estuary, past the spa town of Poppit Sands before finally entering the sea at Cardigan Bay.
Geology and landscape
Teifi and its tributaries are underpinned by ancient Ordovician and Silurian ravines that have been widely glaciated during the glacial ages. The resulting land form is one of the gently rolling hills supporting a range of agriculture in which dairy and sheep farming dominates. Cardiganshire (now Ceredigion) had a reputation for supplying London with its milk in the past, especially in the 19th century. The Teifi valley landscape is very attractive, and Teifi is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful rivers in Wales.
The pools of Teifi, the source of the Teifi, are a series of small lakes left by the last glacial activity. The lakes are Highland and acidic in nature. Some have been expanded by the dam and now provide a source of drinking water. The very great elevated lore above Tregaron acts as a huge sponge at the head of the river that equals extremes in the flow. Rapids and waterfalls are infrequent, but examples in Henllan and especially in Cenarth are worthy of mention and have been widely photographed and painted due to the beauty of the landscape. The throat between Llechryd and Cilgerran has an exceptional quality. Few visitors venture into the gorge, and the river meanders almost silently between the densely wooded sides with its unique low-floor sedge flora.
Culture and history
The valley of Teifi has been inhabited since prehistory. There are many remains of the Iron Age and Stone Age man, including Cromlechs (burial chambers) and standing stones. The remains of a medieval abbey are in Strata Florida with some excellent examples of encaustic tiles on the floors. The river flows near the University of Wales, Lampeter, which is the oldest university that was established in Wales. Between Cardigan and Cenarth there is an ancient tradition of fishing and travel with coracles – very light dinghies made of folded sticks covered with furs or impermeable skins. These are paddled by a unique paddle used on the front of the craft that requires great skill. The main use for coracles is in salmon fishing using nets. This form of fishing is now very controlled, and the right to fish in this way is transmitted from father to son. There is also an ancient tradition of illegal fishing for salmon and sea trout in the lower Teifi.