Preseli Hills & Gwaun Valley Walking Holidays

Preseli Hills

The Preseli Hills (known as Mynydd Preseli in Welsh) are set in a beautiful, remote location with a unique variety of landscapes. You can view vast stretches of the magnificent coastline, deep valleys with mysterious woodlands, perfectly ploughed fields with a rich mix of colours, or wild moorland covered in blankets of heath and grass. Every view is captivating and perfect for anyone interested in photography. On a clear day you can see for miles, far west to the Wicklow Hills in Ireland, Snowdonia in the North and towards the South the views extend far around the Pembrokeshire coast line.

The Preseli Hills are steeped in history for you to unravel and are notably known for being the home of the ‘Bluestones’ which stand at Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The mystical Bluestones are found in the inner circle at Stonehenge. Many people have their theory on how these large stones made their way there some 4000 years ago, plus the reasons they were placed there, but still to this day this is still a mystery! Carn Meini is believed to be one of the possible locations that these stones could have come from and a lovely walk can be taken to this site, where you can then make your own decision on how these 2 tonne stones travelled some 170 miles east to Wiltshire.

Megalithic monuments are plentiful along this sparse hill side and the surrounding area which date back to the Neolithic times. You can find Bronze Age Burial Cairns scattered across the spine of the hills and these date back to 350 BC. At 1200ft/363m and to the eastern side near to Crymych, you will find Foel Dregarn which is one of the most dramatic Iron Age Hill forts in Wales. Three impressive Bronze Age Burial Cairns sit on the summit, surrounded by cliffs and crags. Other cairns along the ridge are Foel Eryr (Eagles Hill), 1535ft/468m, Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highest point on the hills at 1760ft/536m and Foel Feddau 1532ft/467m.

Whilst walking in this area, you can sense there is ancient Welsh & Celtic history in these hills. The Mabinogion (Welsh prose stories dating back to the 12th–13th century) story of Cuhwch and Olwen tells of a wild Irish boar called Twrch Trwyth. Culwch’s cousin, King Arthur, helped him on his quest to Ireland which ended in the killing of one of Twrch Trwyth’s youngest boars. Twrch Trwyth chased King Arthur and his Knights crossing from Ireland to Foel Cwmcerwyn to gain revenge. A battle took place and many of the Knights were slain by the wild boar and their bodies turned instantly into stone. This site is known as Cerrig Marchohion (the Knights Stones) and it is also believed that King Arthur’s grave, Beddarthur is situated on these hills.

Gwaun Valley

The Gwaun Valley is often referred to as a hidden gem tucked away in the northern section of the Pembrokeshire National Park and is described by The Rough Guide as ‘…one of the great surprises of Pembrokeshire.’ If you are seeking tranquillity and an area to absorb nature & beauty, then the Gwaun Valley is the place to explore. Take a step back in time with its rural untouched way of life, abundant with history, legends and old traditions that make this a very special place.

The Gwaun Valley and its inhabitants celebrate New Year’s Day or Hen Galan, on the 13th January which was part of the old Julian calendar, abolished in 1752. The Julian calendar was replaced by the Georgian calendar some 200 years prior but the local people decided to continue with tradition and this has never been broken. Children still miss school on this day and will go door to door in the valley paying tribute by singing old songs. By way of gratitude for the entertainment, the children would be given ‘Calennig’, which is either sweets or money.

Our local legend Bessie Davies is landlady of the Dyffryn Arms, which has been run by her family since 1840. Bessie opens up her living room where you can experience a beer straight from the barrel, served through a hatch in the wall. A real must if you are in the area and one that can be easily incorporated into your walk. The valley also boasts two breweries serving great tasting real ale, Bluestone Brewery and the Gwaun Valley Brewery. Both are open to the public and provide tours with tastings. Advance bookings can be made for tours of the breweries and we are happy to arrange transport if required.

The Valley dates back to the Ice Age, when melted water from the Glaciers, rushed down from the Preseli’s and carved this steep sided V shaped valley towards Fishguard. The River Gwaun flows through the valley and its source comes from the tributaries that flow from the Preseli Hills and the steep woodlands that flank the valley. The river then flows out to the Irish Sea at the estuary in Lower Town, Fishguard. It’s been listed as one of the most important meltwater channels in Britain from the last Ice Age.