Maenclochog

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Walk synopsis

This walk began and ended in the beautiful village of Maenclochog in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Derek's guide through the landscape was Becky Davies - the local vicar.

The walk begins on fairly level ground, taking in pretty woodland boardwalks over natural bogland and forestry; but quickly becomes steeper as the route heads up towards the summit of Foel Cwmcerwyn - the highest point in the Preseli Hills.

Luckily what goes up, must come down so we are soon on a downhill section that joins up with the Golden Road, which was once a Prehistoric trade route.

From there we headed west along the backbone of the Preseli Hills before following a forestry trail and pathway through the old slate quarries at Rosebush to the site of the old train station.

A short, uphill section from the old station (now part of the grounds at Tafarn Sinc) leads up to Pant Mawr on the top road in Rosebush.

We leave Rosebush village to reconnect with part of the route we started on to return to Maenclochog.

1. From Maenclochog village up to Eithbed

There is no good parking directly beside the start of the path so it's best to park in the village car park in the centre of Maenclochog behind the Castle Hotel.

Take the 5 minute walk uphill through the village passing the church, village shops and school as you head up and out towards Rosebush.

At the north-western outskirts of the village (after the last house on the right hand side of the road) turn right down a track and follow this all the way down towards the mountain.

Look out for a pair of standing stones in field on right hand side at start of track. Continue on the track when it bends sharply to the right and carry straight on past the driveway which leads up to Danclawdd on your left.

After ten minutes or so the track gradually narrows, entering a woodland and becomes a footpath.

Follow the path through the woodland by a stream, then over a bog with sections of boardwalk, until you enter a forest plantation.

Leaving the village

Keep to the path on the left edge of the forest until you emerge out onto a country road. In early summer there are sometimes orchids in the bog beside the boardwalk.

Turn left along the road for just a few hundred yards before going up through a gate into a field on the right. Head left and uphill following the directions shown by arrows on the wooden path markers and stiles.

This will bring you past a ruined farmhouse and the remains of some old cairns.

The farm and surrounding slopes are known as 'Eithbed' which may be a reference to three cairns which were once here. (i.e. possibly a compound name from 'bedd' meaning 'grave' and a shortening of 'eithin' meaning 'gorse'.

When the gorse is in flower these slopes are pretty with yellow flowers everywhere. Eventually you'll walk all the way up onto a broad grassy path on the crest of the ridge. There are two things to note at this point:

  • You will need to go over the stile here and turn right onto the broad hedge-lined track to begin the ascent to the summit of Foel Cwm Cerwyn.
  • Have a good look at where you are because, when you return from Rosebush on the way home, you will need to go over this same stile and down the hill to return to Maenclochog.

If you look at the opposite side of the track you will see the stile over which you will eventually climb on the way back from Rosebush.

For now, though, ignore the stile opposite and turn right. Head up the track towards the higher part of the mountain.

Keeping a large area of felled forestry on your left, cross short sections of boggy ground, passing through two gates and up a steeper track onto open mountainside. There is quite a distinct path leading up to the trig point on the summit.

2. Heading towards Foel Cwmcerwyn

At 536m (1759 ft) Foel Cwmcerwyn is the highest point in the Preseli Hills and in Pembrokeshire. At the top are cairns as well as the trig point.

Although six miles from the sea, it lies within the borders of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and from here it is possible to see many local landmarks on a clear day.

Heading up towards Foel Cwmcerwyn

Looking northwards to the sea you will spot Carn Ingli lying between you and Newport. The shape of the jagged rocks on the top of this smaller peak is said to resemble a pregnant lady lying down on her back, asleep.

In her shadow, but not quite visible, lies Pentre Ifan one of the largest and most famous cromlechs in Britain.

Neolithic sites & Bluestones

Were you to continue from the summit of Foel Cwn Cerwyn in an eastward direction (on another day and on a different walk) you would come across 'Bedd Arthur.'

Also known as 'Arthur's Grave' this is the site of an ancient earthwork with an eye-shaped ring of small standing stones. Bedd Arthur is one of many sites in the region associated with the legendary King Arthur.

Another site is Carreg Coetan Arthur - a Neolithic dolmen found near Newport, North Pembrokeshire.

A Pembrokeshire bluestone

Further along still you would reach 'Carn Meini'. This rocky outcrop is thought to be a possible source of the famous Bluestones at Stonehenge.

Scattered around here are the 'ringing stones' so named because a high proportion of them ring like metal bells when struck. This is one reason why this area may have been considered sacred to ancient people living here.

From the summit, follow the path down the other side of the mountain until you reach a wooden kissing gate in a boundary fence where you join the Golden Road path which follows the backbone of the Preseli hills.

3. The Golden Road

The Golden Road is an ancient path that crosses the length of the Preseli Hills - from Foel Eryr in the West to the hill fort of Foeldrygarn in the East.

It makes up part of a network of roads and tracks not only used by the Celtic peoples of the area but also by their predecessors.

The Neolithic track way dates back some 5,000 years and would have been part of a trading route between Wessex and Ireland - bringing gold from the Wicklow Hills.

The area is criss-crossed with ancient tracks that are popular with walkers and pony trekkers alike.

Ancient features such as cairns, cromlechs, sacred healing wells and standing stones are dotted all across the Preseli region and it might well have been a Neolithic 'Holy Land' or region of pilgrimage.

From the wooden kissing gate turn left along the Golden Road path, downhill then across a boggy section until you reach a gate on the left, leading onto a forestry road.

Follow this forestry road downhill and at the bottom of the hill bear right onto a much smaller and narrower footpath. This eventually leads back onto another short section of forestry road.

At a right hand bend, leave the road to continue straight along a path which takes you into the old slate quarries. There will be slate tips on the left as you take this path.

4. Rosebush slate quarry

The site comprises of two quarries - Bellstone to the north and Rosebush to the south. Each quarry originally had its own dressing floors and tramways.

Bellstone was the first to be opened up in December 1825 and originally known as the Preseli Quarry.

Rosebush Slate Quarry

It was used intensively during the 1870s and 1880s when it had the added benefit of a railway but the company was finally dissolved in 1891.

The railway subsequently became part of the North Pembrokeshire line to Fishguard and the buildings remained in use for a number of years after the closure of the quarry.

There may be bigger and better examples of slate quarrying in North Wales but these are a real curiosity, as there are few examples of slate extraction in South Wales.

Continue along the track past old quarry buildings on the right, until you reach Rosebush village. You will arrive in Rosebush behind a row of old quarry houses - 'the terrace'.

These colourful little cottages are the original houses of the village and were lived in by the slate workers.

5. Rosebush village

Rosebush village

The village owes its origins to the large slate quarries and evidence of this still exists in the form of the terraced quarrymen housing that forms a central feature of the village known as 'the terrace'.

With the construction of the Maenclochog Railway, linking the quarries with the main line railway at Clunderwen, the village became a focal point for services in the upland area, north of Maenclochog.

The Old Post Office

Built of faced Rosebush slate in 1870 for the local quarry master, it later became the local Post Office.

In recent times it has had a new lease of life as the highest restaurant in Pembrokeshire.

Just past the Old Post Office, turn down to the right, then first left through a gate into the grounds of Tafarn Sinc.

6. Tafarn Sinc

The Preseli Hotel and Pleasure Gardens (complete with fish ponds) was built in 1876 in an attempt to attract tourists onto the railway and still survives today.

The hotel is now generally known as Tafarn Sinc, due to its corrugated galvanised iron construction and the fish ponds are a feature of the nearby Rosebush Caravan Park.

Tafarn Sinc

The hotel closed in 1992 and was in a bad state of repair and nearly lost to the local community. When the brewery decided to sell, it was bought by locals - Brian and Brenda Llewelyn, for £18,000 who refurbished and re-named it, Tafarn Sinc Preseli.

The pub has featured prominently in the historic and social life of the area, and its success today is due to the fact that this unique establishment has the kind of atmosphere most modern pubs try hard to recreate.

Here you get the real thing and a bit of Welsh language thrown in too!

Back to Maenclochog

From Tafarn Sinc head back up the short, steep bit of road to the Old Post Office. If you have a dog walking with you, please take the slightly steeper but 'dog friendly' route back (at the request of the local people living here).

A trail of gates, way markers and stiles begins directly opposite the Old Post Office and leads up across the fields behind Pant Mawr to the top of the hill.

The slightly easier way to get to the top of the same hill is to follow the track directly up through Pant Mawr Cheeses.

Once past the cheese shop and house itself - follow the track as it bears round to the right of a barn and straight up the hill.

When the track runs out, follow the waymarkers and arrows on gates and stiles until you reach the top.

Whichever route you take, you'll arrive back at the hedged track running roughly east-west at the top of the ridge and be directly opposite the stile where you came up from Eithbed earlier in the day.

Cross the track-way and go over the stile opposite. Now retrace your steps back to Maenclochog village down the lower slopes of the hill, across the road, through the forestry, boardwalk and woodland.

BBC Disclaimer: The Weatherman Walking maps and guides are intended as a guide to the TV programme only. Routes and conditions may have changed since the programme was made.

The BBC takes no responsibility for any accident or injury that may occur while following the route. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear and check weather conditions before heading out.


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