#170 – The Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales

Looking east from Pumlumon Fawr towards Pumlumon Llygad Bychan

Looking east from Pumlumon Fawr towards Pumlumon Llygad Bychan

The route

The route

Although many in the UK will remember the late summer of 2014 that lasted from September until the end of November, it’s easy to forget that August was well rainy, and Chris and I spent a soggy few days in Mid-Wales dodging the showers. One of the walking targets for the trip was a corner of the Cambrian Mountains near Aberystwyth called Pumlumon (it’s pronounced ‘Pimlimon’ and means ‘Five Peaks’) but our first attempt was abandoned due to the rain.

Setting out near Eisteddfa Gurig

Setting out near Eisteddfa Gurig

The track opening out by the Afon Tarennig

The track opening out by the Afon Tarennig

Above the old mine workings, heading for Pen Pumlumon Fawr

Above the old mine workings, heading for Pen Pumlumon Fawr

Bad weather doesn’t last forever, even if it sometimes feels that way, so after an escape to the rain free Brecon Beacons (see post #169) we tried again for Pumlumon. The route starts out from the busy A44 road at Eisteddfa Gurig, and initially takes a much older road to old lead mine workings.

Heading ‘off-piste’

Heading ‘off-piste’

The view to the south

The view to the south

At the lead mine it was time to take to a hill track, which heads straight for the top of Pumlumon Fawr – we didn’t follow it for long though, as one of the objectives of the trip was to visit the site of a WW2 air-crash. A short section ‘off-piste’ led us across the bare hillside, and before long we could pick out the unmistakable sight of weathered aluminium.

* * *

Lockheed P38 Lightning/F-5E

Lockheed P38 Lightning/F-5E

On 11 September 1945, a Lockheed F-5E of the 27nd Photographic Reconnaissance Unit USAAF was being ferried from Chalgrove in Oxfordshire to Burtonwood near Warrington. The Lockheed F-5E was a variant of the better known P38 Lightning, and was identical apart from the addition of four cameras in the nose of the aircraft. During the flight, the aircraft struck a ridge with a glancing blow losing its propellers, then continued for some distance before inverting and crashing into the hillside. The pilot, Lt Xenophon Eugenedes, was killed in the crash.

The crash site

The crash site

Still some large sections remaining

Still some large sections remaining

The wreckage was seen the following day by a shepherd, and the location reported to the police. Investigators concluded that the pilot lost control while flying on instruments in cloud, and was recovering from a dive when the aircraft struck the ground. It has been speculated that had the aircraft been flying ten feet higher, the crash would not have occurred.

* * *

Old boundary stone just a little higher than the crash site

Old boundary stone just a little higher than the crash site

Looking west towards Pen Pumlumon Fawr (752 metres)

Looking west towards Pen Pumlumon Fawr (752 metres)

Approaching the summit on Pen Pumlumon Fawr

Approaching the summit on Pen Pumlumon Fawr

Our route continued to take in a couple of the Pumlumon summits starting with Pumlumon Llygad Bychan. A slight descent was then followed by a steady and gradual climb to the highest summit of the range, Pumlumon Fawr at 752 metres (2467ft).

‘Mist’ at the summit with Nant y Moch Reservoir below

‘Mist’ at the summit with Nant y Moch Reservoir below

Remains of the Bronze Age cairn at the summit

Remains of the Bronze Age cairn at the summit

Time to head back

Time to head back

As with many of the summits of Welsh mountains, the top was crowned with an ancient Bronze Age burial cairn, probably 4-5000 years old – another common feature of such summits is that the stones of the cairn are often ransacked to build wind shelters, and this was no exception, though I suppose we might have been more grateful had the weather been bad…

Heading south from the cairn

Heading south from the cairn

The two small pools on Pen y Drawsallt ahead

The two small pools on Pen y Drawsallt ahead

Losing height at last

Losing height at last

Heading back was downhill all the way – the rough hillside became a grassy path that morphed into a forestry track. We just ‘dipped our toes in the water’ on this trip, but we will probably return to dip our toes for real – these hills are the sources of three important rivers, the Afon Rheidol, the Afon Gwy (River Wye) and the Afon Hafren (River Severn, the longest river in Britain), but the stories of the rivers will have to wait for another day.

The track home by the forest

The track home by the forest

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
This entry was posted in 6. Mid and South Wales, Aircrash Sites and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to #170 – The Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales

  1. I always look forward to reading your posts Paul…this one is excellent. And I am always struck (have I said this before) how much the Welsh mountains remind me of Yorkshire or Cumbria. And so many crash sites too. I was talking to an archaeologist who said he thought that the stones for the Bronze Age burial cairns were always carried up by women (and unfortunately I can’t remember why)…but when I see him next I will ask him and let you know. Magnificent photos as always Paul.

  2. I haven’t been on Pumlumon since I was a nipper! Nice to see an unusual place in a post – you never seem to hear about that area.
    Carol.

    • Thanks Carol. It’s an area that’s a bit off the beaten track, and I guess that you have to make a point of heading that way – we’ll be back!

  3. Beautiful photos! Always love the history lessons in your posts also 😀

  4. LensScaper says:

    Another mountain area of wide-open broad flowing ridge lines. There certainly do seem to be a number of crash sites in the welsh mountains – is the same true of The Lakes, do you know?

  5. Thanks for the comment Andy. There have been 93 recorded air-crashes in Wales, against a mere 32 for the Lakes. As most of the crashes were during WW2, that can be explained by the proximity (or otherwise) of military airfields and the amount of upland area.

  6. Pete Buckley says:

    Great post – I like these remoter areas but haven’t been up Pumlumon yet – looks a nice route. This summer maybe…

  7. Cheers Pete – next time I go I’ll have a look at the north side approach, it looks even more remote and wild.

  8. Matt Jones says:

    I would recommend doing the 2000 foot summits of Drygarn Fawr and Gorllwyn, similar terrain and huge beehive cairns!

    • Cheers Matt – just checked them on the map. We go down that way several times each year to see friends and usually fit in a walk or two, so that’s another two for the wish list 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s