Plinlimon: Cambrian Mountains

Plinlimon: Cambrian Mountains



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Plynlimon (anglicised from Pumlumon in Welsh, meaning "five peaks") is the highest point of the Cambrian Mountains in Wales, and the highest point in Mid Wales. It is a massif that dominates the countryside of northern Ceredigion.

Once known as the "Green Desert of Wales", this huge area contains no sizeable settlements, except round its edges. It is generally between 1500' and 2500' in altitude, and through its length passes the Cambrian Way long-distance trail, roughly following the main Welsh watershed. Here are born many great rivers, whose valleys divide the plateau, and give the mountains much of their charm, as well as shelter for isolated farmsteads, and routes for travellers.

The Cambrian Mountains are divided by the A44 - the only main road which crosses them. To the north is Plynlimon (Pumlumon in Welsh, but pronounced "Pimlimon"), which includes the highest point in the range. Plynlimon is a massif, rather than a single hill-top; the rivers Severn and Wye start on its slopes, as do their respective trails; Glyndwr's Way national trail brushes its northern edge. From its high ground there are views of the whole of upland Wales, and hidden within its folds are lakes and true mountain scenery, waterfalls, deserted valleys, and high, airy escarpments.

South of the A44 lies Elenydd (pronounced "Elennith"), a vast area of rolling moorland with few distinctive hill tops. Its best-known feature is the Elan valley, whose reservoirs supply Birmingham's water, but it is also where the rivers Irfon, Teifi and Tywi have their sources. With only a few motor roads, this is terrain where the walker is king - or queen - of a seemingly boundless landscape of grassy hills and sparkling rivers. Drygarn Fawr is the highest point, and though only just over 2100', it is no easy summit. Other gems of the Elenydd include Teifi Pools, the Doethie and Pysgotwr valleys, and Mynydd Mallaen.

In 1936 Sir George Stapledon proposed (in The Land Now and Tomorrow) that their should be a Plynlimon National Park. This was stimulated a national discussion on the value of establishing national parks. This pressure culminates in the 1945 White Paper on National Parks, produced as part of the Labour Party's planned post-war reconstruction. The government sets up a committee under Sir Arthur Hobhouse, to prepare for National Park legislation, whilst the SCNP and Ramblers' Association keep up public pressure for National Parks.


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