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The Preseli Hills / 3 days / 36 miles (58km)

Outline Map → Map Route file →

Date: 06 Jun 2005
Start / Finish: Newport. Free beach car park.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 35: North Pembrokeshire.

Day 1Mynydd Carningli & Foel Drygarn12 miles / 2860 feet (19.3km / 871m)
Day 2Mynydd Preseli & Mynydd Dinas15 miles / 2310 feet (24.2km / 704m)
Day 3Dinas Island & coast path9 miles (14.5km)

A circuit of the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire, returning via an excellent section of the coast path.

The basis for the walk was to link the two Marilyns of Mynydd Carningli and Foel Cwmcerwyn, which required a lengthy crossing of the valley. We were expecting our usual battle with nonexistent Welsh footpaths but we were pleasantly surprised here. Apart from one minor glitch (where the map could well be out of date), all paths were clearly signed with smart posts. On the hills, permissive paths shown on the map are also signed, but the Mynydd Preseli hills generally have an open aspect and unfenced roads, which combined with easy walking gives a welcoming sense of freedom.

Day 1 - Mynydd Carningli & Foel Drygarn

A lane SE from Newport passes the castle remains and gains the open hillside, where easy paths climb to the rocky hill fort of Mynydd Carningli. The views were disappointingly muted today by dull murky air, but the inviting Preseli ridge could be seen across the valley. An easy walk W gains the subsidiary top Carn Briw, marked by a pile of stones.

Preseli ridge from Mynydd Carningli
Preseli ridge from Mynydd Carningli (06 Jun 2005__11:57:30)
Mynydd Carningli
Mynydd Carningli (06 Jun 2005__12:29:28)

A descent SE around the intake wall joins the path to the unfenced road. A long combination of footpaths and lanes took us eastwards to Crosswell Ffynnongroes (125365), relieved by the colourful profusion of June flowers. A signed path heads SE to join the access track to Mirianog Fach and Mirianog Ganol. A permissive path to the ridge is signed at 140344, but there are several discernible trails higher up and we made a gradually ascending curve around the prominent tors of Carnalw and Carn Ddafad-las to gain the three large cairns and trig point on the hill fort of Foel Drygarn. There is a good view along the broad ridge studded with rocky tors, though it was too hazy to see the distant views E towards the Brecons. We managed to find a reasonably flat spot just below the cairns for the pitch.

Carnalw & Foel Drygarn
Carnalw & Foel Drygarn (06 Jun 2005__16:44:09)
Frenni Fawr from Foel Drygarn
Frenni Fawr from Foel Drygarn (06 Jun 2005__17:47:03)

Day 2 - Mynydd Preseli & Mynydd Dinas

The morning dawned clear but it was still rather hazy as we took the prominent track S to the forest corner, joining the main track along the edge. Just beyond the next corner, it was a simple matter to climb L and walk the arc of rocky tors to the S of the track, including Carn Gyfrwy and Carn Menyn. The Preseli tors are thought to be the source of the huge bluestones at Stonehenge, and the whole area is sprinkled with historical sites, including Beddarthur, a stone circle below the rise of Carn Sian.

Foel Drygarn
Foel Drygarn (07 Jun 2005__06:28:50)
Carn Gyfrwy
Carn Gyfrwy (07 Jun 2005__07:29:49)
Mynydd Carningli from Foel Feddau
Mynydd Carningli from Foel Feddau (07 Jun 2005__09:03:13)

Beyond Foel Feddau, we continued on the track to a forest corner and climbed L to Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highest point for over 40 miles and 3rd. in the list of Wales Supersummits, though it was too hazy to realise the potential very distant views to the E. Returning to the forest corner and resuming the track W to the car park at Bwlch Gwynt, the next summit Foel Eryr is the one with recognition as a viewpoint and has a smart topograph.

Foel Eryr from Foel Cwmcerwyn
Foel Eryr from Foel Cwmcerwyn (07 Jun 2005__10:13:16)
Foel Eryr topograph
Foel Eryr topograph (07 Jun 2005__11:30:55)

Descending NW into the Gwaun valley, we arrived at the car park (good public toilets) at 045350. This spot is unnamed on the map but is very attractive, complete with a well maintained pond and a path that climbs the steep wooded ravine of Cwm Bach. Near the top of the ravine the path emerges near the Christian Retreat Centre at a cross overlooking the valley and giving good views across to Mynydd Preseli. This area is designated as SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

Above Cwm Bach, the Penlan forest is now felled and routes are indicated by white-topped posts. This area is being reclaimed from the conifers and restored to heathland by the National Park Authority. A description of the Penlan project and related conservation projects can be found here. We followed the posts curving NW to join a track that emerges at the Bedd Morris car park.

Continuing W to the next unfenced road, we climbed towards the prominent tor of Carn Enoch and the top of Mynydd Dinas, passing a small herd of horses with foals - we were to hear more of them later!. At the W end is another rocky tor Garn Fawr, which commands a good view of Fishguard Bay, and we made a pitch nearby.

Carn Enoch
Carn Enoch (07 Jun 2005__16:48:51)
Pitch on Mynydd Dinas
Pitch on Mynydd Dinas (07 Jun 2005__17:30:18)

Day 3 - Dinas Island & coast path

Just before sunset we were awakened by a strange noise, and a shadow briefly darkened the tent. A few seconds later the shadow passed again and a large outline drew closer, then quietly snuffled and snorted at the tent door. One of the horses had come to investigate the strange object, but panicked on hearing our movements. Shortly after several others came galloping past but they must have then settled for the night. Next morning they were up and about before us and gathered to watch us from a discreet distance.

Horses on Mynydd Dinas
Horses on Mynydd Dinas (08 Jun 2005__06:10:57)

Returning past Carn Enoch, there are various trails eastwards to the unfenced road that heads down to Dinas Cross and on to Dinas Island. From here we followed the Pembrokeshire Coast Path back to Newport, taking in the circuit of Dinas Island. This is a splendid section of the path with colourful rock stacks, cliffs and coves at every turn. Once again for one of our coastal walks, the day was very clear with unbroken sunshine.

Pen Castell
Pen Castell (08 Jun 2005__08:05:33)
Needle Rock
Needle Rock (08 Jun 2005__09:43:41)
View near Ynys Dol-rhedyn
View near Ynys Dol-rhedyn (08 Jun 2005__11:07:35)
View near Ynys Dol-rhedyn
View near Ynys Dol-rhedyn (08 Jun 2005__11:17:19)
Stack near Aber Step
Stack near Aber Step (08 Jun 2005__12:05:31)
Stack near Aber Step
Stack near Aber Step (08 Jun 2005__12:08:43)
Stack off Newport Bay
Stack off Newport Bay (08 Jun 2005__12:42:52)

Backpackers note: the public toilets at Pwllgwaelod (006398) were closed, but the ones at Cwm-yr-Eglwys (014401) were open and have a drinking water supply on the outside wall.