#326 – The Preseli Hills in Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire), South West Wales

The wild Preseli Hills – on the Golden Road, looking east

For the best viewing experience, left-click the images and maps to zoom in to a new window, then exit that window to go back – go on, it really does work!

Southwest Wales, with the Preseli route in the centre

If you are reading this, wondering where on earth the Preseli Hills are, you will be in good company.  The highest point in these little-known Pembrokeshire hills, is Foel Cwmcerwyn, a mere 536 metres (1759 ft) in altitude, and the upland areas are grassy, rolling moors with occasional rocky tors.  For many, these tors are the major interest – 4000 years ago, some of these rocks were transported 140 miles (225km) to become part of Stonehenge, a major feat of logistics at any time in history!

A closer view of Mynydd Preseli (The Preseli Mountains) – 2014 route in red, right of the blue route

This was a second visit to Preseli for Chris and I – in 2014 we had walked part of an ancient roadway known as the Golden Road (the 2014 route shown in red in the above map).  It’s possible that the Golden Road may have been one of the original Ridgeways of Britain, used in prehistory to avoid the dense forests in the valleys, but it is also believed to have been used 5000 years ago by Neolithic travellers, trading gold mined in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland with Wessex. Whatever, it’s old!

The route, clockwise from Rosebush in the bottom left

Our trip wasn’t going to involve any gold trading; it was a ‘filling in the gaps’ route to include part of the Golden Road that we had missed out in 2014.   Our base was the village of Rosebush, a Welsh village with a well-known pub where customers in the bar are encouraged to order their drinks in the Welsh language.  Ironically, the village name is English – Rosebush is assumed to be an anglicised version of the Welsh Rhos y Bwlch, which means the Pass of the Moor.

Setting out from Rosebush
Heading up towards Pantmaenog Forest
The view looking back
Foel Cwmcerwyn ahead, the highest of the Preseli peaks at a lofty 536 metres
The summit trig point ….
…. with the author getting in the action as a model!

Virtually all our height gain on the route was in the first 3kms from Rosebush to the summit of Foel Cwmcerwyn – lowland fields with sheep led us to a prominent track heading up to Pantmaenog Forest.  Beyond there, the ground started to look more like moorland, rather than farmers’ fields, and a steady walk took us almost 300 metres higher than our start point in the village, to the summit trig point at 536 metres altitude.

Heading from Foel Cwmcerwyn towards the main Preseli ridge and the Golden Road
The next objective in the distance – Foel Feddau, 467 metres in altitude
The final slopes of Foel Feddau ….
…. before reaching the summit

Views from Foel Cwmcerwyn were extensive and included a good bit of our intended route.   Foel Feddau was our next hill feature, and a faint path across the moor took us in the right direction.   A small amount of descent was followed by some minor uphill before arriving at our second summit and its Bronze Age burial cairn, probably around 4000 years old.

Next objective -the ridge just left of centre ….
…. and the faint path leading to it
Typical Preseli scenery ….
…. with rock tors scattered about
Looking back to where we had come from ….
…. with Foel Feddau in the centre and Foel Cwmcerwyn on the left

From there it was moorland wandering, pleasant enough in good weather but probably a bit more challenging in bad weather conditions.  The route was picked to get some distance back in our legs, after being restricted to shorter walks for a while.  15kms wasn’t exactly earth-shattering, but ‘it gets you out of the house’ as the saying goes.  5kms of that was on a quiet road, but that gave ample opportunity to brush up on my Welsh for the Tafarn Sinc pub – “peint a hanner o seidr, os gwelwch yn dda” would do nicely (“a pint and a half of cider, please” if you are struggling with that!).

Time to head for home ….
….before arriving here – Tafarn Sinc at Rosebush

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.
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1 Response to #326 – The Preseli Hills in Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire), South West Wales

  1. It sounds nothing like Rosebush when said in Welsh – I can only imagine the Angles thought it looked like ‘rose bush’!

    The nearest I’ve been to there was Carmarthen and Gower (which we loved).


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