The Pumlumon Fawr Walk in the Cambrian Mountains has been on the agenda for quite some time. Years in fact. We love hiking, so the desire has always been there. But the knowledge was lacking. That’s where the power of social media came in. Recently we’ve connected with Dafydd Wyn Morgan of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative, on both Twitter and Instagram. And, when he, very kindly, offered his services as a guide, this was too good an opportunity to turn down. This guy is seriously experienced when it comes to hiking and an EXPERT when it comes to the Cambrian Mountains.
Driving to the start of the Pumlumon Fawr Walk
As always, the drive up the Welsh coast road was pretty special. In fact, this is one of our favourite drives in Wales. The over-riding thought was that Wales really is beautiful.
Especially this part of it.
We always stop in this layby to take in that view. And a photo. If we’re carrying a flask, this is the place we crack it open. After this quick stop, it was onwards to Aberystwyth (on the A487) then the A44 towards Llangurig.
This road is simply breath-taking. It really is an incredible place and you can’t help being affected by its scale and beauty. It totally engulfs you, almost stopping you in your tracks and forcing you into the here and now. It’s actually quite difficult to refrain from stopping every few minutes to take a photograph! But that wasn’t the purpose of this trip. Not this time.
Meeting Dafydd at the George Borrow Hotel in Ponterwyd was the plan. And a good one. It made the last few miles so much easier to navigate than it would have been without someone who knows this place like the back of his hand.
From Ponterwyd we drove North towards Nant y Moch Reservoir and parked up at a layby (grid reference SN77458 87917) where there was almost nobody else around. This is where we started our walk.
How we took on The Pumlumon Fawr Walk
The start of the walk is quite steep and as you climb gets quite wet and boggy underfoot. You’ll need waterproof boots here. We followed the stream up to a track and took a left onto it to get to Llyn Llygad Rheidol. This was originally a natural lake which is now dammed to increase its capacity.
Believed to be the source of the Afon Rheidol it’s owned and managed by Dŵr Cymru and reaches the sea at, and supplies the town of, Aberystwyth. A serenely beautiful and peaceful place.
From here we headed steeply up towards Pumlumon Fach. This is one of the shortest routes to the summit but also one of the steepest. We stopped for a few moments in a sheltered dip between peaks to look back and take in the views. Sometimes it does you good to look at how far you’ve come.
The last section, before reaching the sizable plateau, is steep. But when you see that trig point it’s hard not to get ‘white line fever’ and sprint to the summit. You really do feel on top of the world here and some of us couldn’t help acting out the famous scene from ‘Rocky’.
What can you see from the Summit of the Pumlumon Fawr Walk?
On a clear day the views from here are spectacular and truly panoramic. They stretch as far South as the Preseli Mountains and Cardigan Bay, and North to Cadair Idris and Snowdon. You can also see the Black Mountains around Hay on Wye, including Hay Bluff and Pen y Fan and Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons. This is just a snippet and obviously you’ll also be able to see everything in between. In fact, just the views of the Cambrian Mountains are pretty special and you’d certainly not be disappointed if that’s all you got to see.
Just look at them. They are incredible. This really is an awesome place in the true sense of the word.
There are some ruined cairns (remains of a Bronze Age burial site) at the top which make for great shelters and a wonderful place for a cuppa and some bara brith (buttered of course). Thanks to Dafydd!
Interesting Facts about Pumlumon Fawr
- Pumlumon Fawr is the highest point of the Cambrian Mountains.
- The summit is 2,468 ft / 752m.
- Pumlumon is the source of the River Severn which is the longest river in Britain.
- It is also the source of the rivers Wye and Rheidol.
- Pumlumon Fawr is a pretty rugged place. In fact the Berghaus Dragon’s Back, the world’s toughest mountain race, crosses over it.
- Nearby is the site of Owain Glyndwr’s battle with 1500 of Henry IV’s army in June 1401
- World-famous mountaineer and Everest summiteer, Sir Chris Bonington spent the first night of his honeymoon on the slopes of Pumlumon in 1962
- In 2018, a beach scene was created on the summit of Pumlumon Fawr to promote the Wales: Year of the Sea theme. A donkey, a deckchair, beach volley-ball team as well as a life-sized crab and ice-cream seller climbed the 2468ft peak
Pumlumon Fawr Walk Statistics
- Total distance: 4.78miles
- Summit: 2,468 feet or 752metres
- Prominence: 526 metres
- Start Grid Reference: SN 774 879
- Total Walk time: 1hr 48
- Total Time: 3 hrs 45 Taking in views and photos and chatting to lovely like-minded fellow walkers (and runners!)
Things you’ll need for the Pumlumon Fawr Walk
We thoroughly recommend you take (and know how to use) this map and a compass for the Pumlumon Fawr walk. This is very much a Welsh mountain where the weather cannot be guaranteed. You may start out in beautiful and warm sunshine like we did but you just do not know when that cloud is going come in and shroud you and the mountain. In those circumstances it’s easy to lose your bearings here. Many have. You’ll need good quality waterproof walking boots.
Before setting out:
- Make sure you have all the necessary gear for a day hike including this map
- Check the weather
- Ensure you have the knowledge and skills for the day ahead
Visit www.adventuresmart.uk for some useful tips on how to prepare for a day in the mountains.
How to get there
We started our walk from Nantymoch Reservoir, just North of Ponterwyd
The Village of Ponterwyd is on the A44 between Aberystwyth and Llangurig. From here we headed north towards the Nant y Moch Reservoir. After about 3.5 miles we turned right at a fork in the road (SN 762 864) and continued along this road until we reached the layby at (SN 774 879).
This map may be useful.
You’ll know you’re in the right place to park because you cannot drive any further than this with a gate blocking the way. Make sure you’re safely and tidily off the road when you park and that you’re not blocking any entrances.
There’s no two ways about it this is a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable walk in a truly spectacular setting. Because of it’s location, on a good day, there’s not a lot of Wales you can’t see from here and we’re looking forward to exploring more of the Cambrian Mountains in the future.
If you are visiting these places now or in the near future please be aware that social distancing rules still apply in Wales. Please keep yourselves and others safe.
This post was written in collaboration with Dafydd Wyn Morgan – Project Manager for the Arwain/LEADER RDP-funded project Dyfodol Cambrian Futures Project, part of the Cambrian Mountains Initiative.
There are 5 main routes to the summit of Pumlumon Fawr. You can check them out on Dafydd’s website www.pumlumontrails.co.uk/the-five-routes
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