The Cambrian Mountains are one of the few remote areas left in Southern Britain. The main settlements lie on the edges of a wild open wilderness and although there are only few roads across the mountains they are acknowleged as some of the most sceinic routes in Britain.
The vast plateau of rolling moorland ridges jewelled with small lakes were described by the 19th century traveller and writer George Borrow in his book ‘Wild Wales’ as ‘a lofty mountain in the far distance, a hill right before me, and on my left, a meadow overhung by the southern hill’. Largely unchanged, the mountains are equally beautiful in the green cloak of summer bracken, the purple haze of heather or burnished gold in the winter sunshine.
An Undiscovered Wilderness
Several large reservoirs store water for the great cities of the English Midlands and south Wales, and for electricity generation. Learn how wildlife lives in harmony with industry, and marvel at the great feats of engineering that created the series of dams at the Elan Valley and the Rheidol valley.
Mining for metals has been an important part of the economy of Ceredigion for nearly 4,000 years. Buildings from the Victorian era, when the industry peaked, are still visible, and the sheer scale of the workings is simply awesome.
The monks of Strata Florida farmed vast estates in the Cambrian Mountains, and the tracks used by them were later developed by the drovers to take livestock to major markets in England. At the end of the eighteenth century it is estimated that some thirty thousand cattle went over the mountain routes of Mid Wales each year. The routes chosen by the drovers would originally have been the quickest and easiest route over the mountains from the various collecting points, such as Ponterwyd, Devil’s Bridge, Tregaron, and Llanddewi Brefi.
Capel Soar y Mynydd is often called the most remote chapel in Wales. Between Tregaron and Llyn Brianne, it is a Welsh Calvinist Methodist Chapel which was built in 1822 to serve the hill farmers of the remote upper valleys. The chapel today is still a site of active worship and visitors continue to make their pilgrimage to this hauntingly beautiful site.
The Cambrian Mountains Initiative, inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales, seeks to help sustain traditional upland farms and communities by promoting craft and produce from the area, and by protecting the environment in which they are produced. HRH The Prince of Wales established his Welsh home, Llwynywermod in the Cambrian Mountains in 2008, and painted a watercolour of Cwm Berwyn, near Tregaron, which is now used as part of the Mynyddoedd y Cambrian Mountains brand.