The Preseli Mountains
The Preseli Mountains
The Preseli Mountains are one of only two inland areas covered by The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The other is around the upper reaches of the Daugleddau estuary.
Picture: The Preseli Mountains
There is no universally accepted standard definition for the height of a mountain or a hill, although 1,000 feet is sometimes used as the point where a hill becomes a mountain, provided the base of the mountain is at sea level, that is. As mountains are generally steeper than a hill, the Preseli's, then, could be either The Preseli Hills or The Preseli Mountains. Irrespective of this, these wild, mysterious, rolling moors roamed by sheep and ponies provide a superb terrain for walkers and horse riders.
Although climbing to just 1760 feet at the highest point they afford (on a clear day) exceptional all round views to the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland, Snowdonia in the north, the Brecon Beacons to the east and the Bristol Channel and West Country to the south.
Picture: The Preseli Mountains in the distance
Judging by the huge abundance of relics that remain - Neolithic burial chambers, Bronze Age cairns, stone circles, standing stones and Iron Age forts - these hills were well populated by Prehistoric man. The bluestones that make up much of the inner circle of Stonehenge are made from spotted dolerite. The only known place in Britain where this rock can be found, in-situ, is in The Preseli Mountains. Was it hewn here and transported 180 miles from Preseli to Salisbury Plain? Quite how this could have been done still remains a hotly discussed issue. Spotted Dolerite 'erratics' can be found in Wiltshire fields, which give credibility to the idea that it was actually glaciers that transported the stones.
Picture: Gors Fawr Stone Circle with the Preseli Mountains behind
In 2000, an attempt was made to drag a Bluestone boulder from the Preseli's to the river on timber rollers and transport it down river slung between two oversided coracles or currachs. Unfortunately, the attempt failed and the stone sank to the bottom of the river, presumably to join quite a few others that were already down there!
The Preseli's were a stronghold of Celtic cultures who believed the entrance to The Celtic Underworld, Annwn, was in the foothills of The Preseli Mountains. The Preseli's feature in Arthurian legends and in The Mabinogion, a collection of pre Christian Celtic mythology.
Significant prehistoric sites on The Preseli's include:
Foel Drygarn and Garn Fawr - Iron Age hill forts
Bedd Arthur - A stone circle
Carn Menyn - Bluestone outcrops
Gors Fawr - Another stone circle near Maenclochog below The Preseli's
One walk over The Preseli's is called The Golden Road, an ancient trackway along the ridge of the mountains. A community bus service called The Preseli Green Dragon can be used to make walking in The Preseli's much easier. It stops at all the most important access points on and around the Preseli's. There is a circular walk circumnavigating The Preseli's called The Preseli Circle.
Picture: Preseli Green Dragon bus
This part of Pembrokeshire is very rural and relatively remote so there isn't a great deal of accommodation in the vicinity. The nearest hotels would be in The Gwaun Valley or Fishguard. There are a few B&Bs, farms and guesthouses in surrounding villages of Maenclochog, Mynachlog-ddu and Rosebush. There's more accommodation nearer the coast at places like Dinas and Newport.
Picture: Tafarn Sinc (The Zinc Pub) in Rosebush, sheltering below The Preseli Mountains. Originally built with corrugated tin sheets as a temporary hostelry for the workers of the nearby slate quarries, it's now one of Pembrokeshire's most interesting pubs.
ID: 2315 Revised: 30/5/2012