Cardigan Bay (Welsh: Bae Ceredigion) is a large inlet of the Irish Sea, indenting the west coast of Wales between Bardsey Island, Gwynedd in the north, and Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire at its southern end. It is the largest bay in Wales.
Cardigan Bay has numerous beaches, and a unique marine life. From the Ceredigion Coast Path it is often possible to observe Bottlenose Dolphins, porpoises and Atlantic Grey Seals. The bay has the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in the UK.
Much of the coast surrounding the bay is fertile farmland, dotted with towns and seaside resorts such as Fishguard, New Quay, Aberaeron, Llanon, Aberystwyth, Borth, Aberdyfi, Tywyn, Barmouth, Porthmadog, Criccieth and Pwllheli on the Cambrian Coast.
Nature and Tourism
Until the early 20th century, Cardigan Bay supported a strong maritime industry. Cardigan is located at the mouth of the River Teifi – hence the Welsh name, Aberteifi (Mouth of the Teifi), and at the turn of the 19th century, the heyday of the port, it was a more important port than Cardiff. At this time more than 300 ships were registered at Cardigan—seven times as many as Cardiff, and three times as many as Swansea.
The central and northern areas of the Bay are the location of the legendary Cantre'r Gwaelod, the drowned "Lowland Hundred" or "Hundred under the Sea".
A military testing range was first established in Cardigan Bay during the Second World War. The range is controlled from a main operating base located near Aberporth, known as MOD Aberporth. Historically, the Range has played a significant part in the development and testing of a variety of military weapons.
Today the Ministry of Defence (MOD) range within Cardigan Bay provides a large secure safety area for the testing of air launched weapons and unmanned aerial systems.
The Range is a significant employer in the West Wales area, employing some 200 people who work in direct support of the Range operation. The staff also work closely with the local communities to foster good relationships, which are vital to ensure the successful operation of the Range.
The Range Danger Area covers some 6,500km^2 of Cardigan Bay from sea level to unlimited height. To supplement the safe operation of the Range, there are a number of small outposts located on the edge of Cardigan Bay and the Lleyn Peninsula. These outposts contain equipment that enables the Range to effectively assess the performance of weapons.
Qinetiq operates the Cardigan Bay/Aberporth Range on behalf of the MOD under the terms of a Long Term Partnering Agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to deliver defence test, evaluation and training support services to ensure air launched weapon systems, associated sub-systems and UAS are safe and fit for purpose.
- General information
- Ceredigion coast
- Dolphin video, sounds and pictures
- Atlantic Grey Seals and pictures
- MOD Aberporth - further details of the range programme
- Map showing extent of Aberporth Range Danger Area in Cardigan Bay