St. Dogmaels is best known for the abbey ruins that dominate the village. It was founded in the 12th century by Robert Fitz-Martin and his wife, Maud Peverel, as a priory in 1113 for just 12 monks and a prior, it was raised to abbey status in 1120. The site it was founded on, however, dates back to pre-Norman times and is thought to have been established as a religious site during the 6th century. Over the centuries it was a beacon for monastic life but fell into ruin around the 17th century. The abbey is now in the care of ‘Cadw’ and is a popular tourist destination for the village. A yearly tradition sees the plays of William Shakespeare enacted in the atmospheric grounds of the abbey. This year Julius Caesar is being performed by the Abbey Shakespeare Players from the 4 – 7th of August, 2021. For more information click here.
Next to the abbey sits the parish church of St. Thomas, which was established in the 19th century (circa 1847) followed by the construction of the vicarage (and the coach-house) in 1866. The Coach House now houses the visitor centre and museum for the abbey, along with a lovely café.
Alongside the abbey you can find one of the only remaining working water mills in Wales. Y Felin is thought to have been built by the abbey in the 12th century and has been gradually restored and is now fully functional, operating with original machinery, producing high quality flour and grain. There is a shop on site and guided tours are available.
The village meanders alongside the River Teifi which, along with the abbey, was the reason for the growth of the settlement at St. Dogmaels. At nearby Cardigan, the River Teifi housed a thriving shipbuilding, seatrade and fishing industry that lasted for hundreds of years. In the 19th century, due to its proximity to the flourishing port of Cardigan, St. Dogmaels benefited from the associated activity, in particular fishing (herring and whiting) and shipbuilding.
The village itself has a local convenience store, a primary school, takeaways, several B&B’s and a few public houses. These include the Ferry Inn, perfectly situated along the River Teifi, and the Teifi Waterside Hotel, at Poppit Sands. Additional amenities can be found in the larger town of Cardigan, a short drive away. St. Dogmaels holds a local produce market every Tuesday, near to the abbey grounds. The market’s produce is all grown, reared or manufactured within a radius 30 miles of St. Dogmaels and includes delights such as vegetables, meats, cheese, fresh fish, cakes, breads and wine.
Due to its many historical attractions, St. Dogmaels is a popular tourist destination and as you follow the river down to the coast you come to the spectacular beach of Poppit Sands. This is one of the most popular beaches in West Wales, it is easily accessible and as the name suggests, sandy. It is also very large and picturesque, backed by sand dunes and some spectacular views. It is popular for surfing, boogie boarding, power kiting, walking and horse riding. Dogs are permitted in certain areas of the beach. During the summer months the beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards and swimming is recommended in the areas that they designate. There are good parking facilities, toilets and the beach holds the sought after Blue Flag award.
Perfectly situated on the beach front is a seaside café, which has recently been taken over by the local business Crwst, who also have a café in Cardigan. It is the ideal spot to start the day, with an invigorating coffee, or to relax in the afternoon sun, with a delicious homemade ice cream.
You can start the challenging and breathtaking Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail here, which snakes along the cliff tops to Amroth, 186 miles to the south.
For more information on the history of the town click here.
St. Dogmaels and Poppit Sands are serviced by the number 408 bus click here for more details.
The Poppit Rocket, route number 405, also offers a limited service for Thursday’s only.
For further information on local bus routes you can visit Richard Brothers here.