The Cambrian Way
Classic Wales mountain trek - south to north from Cardiff to Conwy
Guidebook to the Cambrian Way, a challenging three-week mountain trek through Wales from Cardiff to Conwy. The 470km unwaymarked route is presented from south to north. Often sticking to long, beautiful ridgelines, it crosses wild and rugged terrain and visits many of Wales's highest mountains, including Snowdon.
SeasonsThe southern and middle sections should be possible in all seasons but the Rhinog mountains and Snowdonia are best tackled between spring and autumn.
CentresCardiff, Pontypool, Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Llandovery, Strata Florida, Devil's Bridge, Ponterwyd, Dinas Mawddwy, Barmouth, Beddgelert, Pen-y-Pass, Ogwen, Conwy
DifficultySuitable for those with experience of long-distance walking (either with or without camping equipment), the route demands a good level of fitness and navigational competence.
Must SeeCardiff, capital of Wales, and its castle; the Black Mountains; the Brecon Beacons; the Carmarthen Vans; the Elenydd wilderness; Devil's Bridge and Rheidol Falls; Pumlumon; Cadair Idris; Barmouth; Rhinog Fawr and Rhinog Fach; Beddgelert; Snowdon; the Glyders; Ogwen Valley; Tryfan; the Carneddau; Conwy and its castle
Dubbed 'the mountain connoisseurs' walk', the Cambrian Way stretches 479km between the mighty castles of Cardiff in the south and Conwy on the north coast. Traversing the heartland of Wales, the challenging route crosses the Brecon Beacons, the Cambrian Mountains and Snowdonia, passing through two national parks and visiting many of the country's iconic summits, including Pen y Fan, Pumlumon, Cadair Idris and Snowdon itself. It can be walked in three weeks (or in shorter sections) and is suitable for experienced hillwalkers with sound navigational skills.
The guide presents the route in 21 stages, offering comprehensive route description illustrated with OS 1:50,000 mapping and elevation profiles. Details of accommodation and facilities are provided, along with a helpful trek planner showing their distribution along the route: although the trail passes through remote areas, it is possible to stay under a roof every night – though camping is also a possibility, should you prefer. There are background notes on Wales's history and geology and local points of interest, and a glossary of Welsh place-names, useful contacts and accommodation listings can be found in the appendices.
From the Black Mountains to the Rhinogs, Glyderau and Carneddau, the route takes in lofty ridges, striking peaks and picturesque lakes. There are also fascinating glimpses into the country's ancient and more recent past: Iron Age hillforts, Norman castles, a Cistercian abbey, the Chartist Cave and relics from the mining industry. Offering superlative scenery, the Cambrian Way is a celebration of some of the best mountain walking Wales has to offer and promises a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in these celebrated landscapes.
The mountain connoisseurs’ walk
Wales, its history, people and language
Geology and landscape
Plants and animals
When to go
Waymarking and navigation
Food, water and supplies
Using this guide
Stage 1 Cardiff to Machen
Stage 2 Machen to Pontypool
Stage 3 Pontypool to Abergavenny
Stage 4 Abergavenny to Capel-y-ffin
Stage 5 Capel-y-ffin to Crickhowell
Stage 6 Crickhowell to Storey Arms
Stage 7 Storey Arms to Glyntawe
Stage 8 Glyntawe to Llandovery
Stage 9 Llandovery to Tŷ’n-y-cornel Hostel
Stage 10 Tŷ’n-y-cornel Hostel to Claerddu
Stage 11 Claerddu to Ponterwyd
Stage 12 Ponterwyd to Dylife
Stage 13 Dylife to Dinas Mawddwy
Stage 14 Dinas Mawddwy to Bwlch Llyn Bach
Stage 15 Bwlch Llyn Bach to Barmouth
Stage 16 Barmouth to Cwm Bychan
Stage 16/17A Bad-weather route to Moelfryn following Taith Ardudwy Way
Stage 17 Cwm Bychan to Maentwrog
Stage 18 Maentwrog to Beddgelert
Stage 19 Beddgelert to Pen-y-Pass
Stage 20 Pen-y-Pass to Llyn Ogwen
Stage 21 Llyn Ogwen to Conwy
Appendix A The checkpoints
Appendix B Glossary of Welsh words and places on the Cambrian Way
Appendix C Useful contacts
Appendix D Accommodation list
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Clear and logical structure and layout - It doesn’t disappoint
As someone who has been walking The Cambrian Way section by section for a few years this first guidebook written by officers of The Cambrian Way Trust, was, to say the least, much anticipated. It doesn’t disappoint. Those familiar with the family of Cicerone’s excellent guides will be very comfortable with its clear and logical structure and layout. The integration of 1:50,000 map sections is very useful, though no substitute for carrying 1:25,000 maps (personally I download these and use with GPS on my phone for confident navigation).
The guide deals well with many of the more difficult sections of the route, where there is no Right of Way to follow, though I challenge anyone not to find themselves confused at times as to what direction to take. But this is what makes The Way so special - it is not all waymarked, and since it covers some truly remote parts of Wales, rightly so. Some of The guide’s suggested stages are really hard going and my advice is to think carefully about your level of ability and the difficulty of the terrain before planning your itinerary. This is challenging walking. I for one will be considering a Wild Camp on the Rheinogs! All the practical stuff is here. Of course this can quickly get out of date, so I would encourage anyone using this guide to post updates to the Cambrian Way website.
Charles, by email
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