Cycle Pembrokeshire

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Gwaun Valley Trail

Overview
Information

    A peaceful, idyllic and easy to cycle trail with interesting places to stop and explore. The Gwaun Valley (or Cwm Gwaun in Welsh) is a relic of the ice age, formed by melt water flowing as the glaciers retreated. It is described in the Rough Guide as one of the great surprises of Pembrokeshire. The valley sides are heavily wooded and the Trail follows a section of the River Gwaun as it makes its way from the Preseli hills down to Lower Fishguard. Many families have lived in the valley for generations and have retained aspects of Welsh life which date back centuries. Locals continue to follow the tradition of the pre-1752 Julian calendar and celebrate New Year (Hen Galan in Welsh) on 13th January. On the Trail you will have an opportunity to explore the sleepy little hamlet of Pontfaen, some very ancient pillar stones, churches and an abundance of wildlife and flowers

    Fact File
    Highlights

    A place to escape the crowds along a beautiful and remote steep sided valley noted for its woodlands, wildlife and local traditions stemming back generations

    Grade: Easy Trail Grading Statement

    Distance

    6 miles (9.7 km)

    Time 11/4 hours plus additional time for stops
    Start/Finish Allt Clun Car Park and Picnic Site. (Grid Ref SN005348, Sat Nav SA65 9SB). Follow the B4313 Fishguard to Narberth Road to a point nearly a mile south-east of Llanychaer. Turn into a side road signed Cwm Gwaun. Follow this narrow road downhill for 1/mile and the car park is on the right opposite a red telephone kiosk
    Nearest Station Fishguard and Goodwick Railway Station is just over 5 miles away. Cross the road outside the station and follow the cycle path down and around the 2 roundabouts to the start of National Cycle Network Route 4 on the seafront. Follow Route 4 from Goodwick to a point just west of Fishguard, Route 47 through Fishguard to a point nearly a mile beyond Llanychaer, and Route 82 to the start of the Trail
    Terrain

    The Trail follows a quiet country lane along the valley floor. There are no steep hills unless you get tempted to follow the short optional extra bits of trail referred to in the directions section

    Elevation Total climb (sum of all uphill sections)  -  175 metres
    Refreshments

    Drinks only at the Dyffryn Arms, Pontfaen

    Toilets

    No public toilets. Customer toilets only at Dyffryn Arms, Pontfaen

     

    Trail Directions (distances in miles)

    0.0      Start. Turn right out of the car park, over the bridge and continue on this road

    0.6      Llanychllwydog Pillar Stones are on your left in the grounds of the old church. The grounds are accessible to the public but not the church building. Continue on the road

    1.5      You are now approaching the very small hamlet known as Pontfaen. The junction to your right is signed Pontfaen Church. The Trail carries straight on at this point but you have the option of turning right and over the bridge to visit St Brynach’s Church up the hill on the other side of the valley. The round trip is about half a mile. Once back, continue on the Trail as before and ignore the side turning to the left. Just beyond this junction is the Dyffryn Arms (commonly known as Bessie’s). A further 240 yards and you will pass Jabes Chapel on the left. Continue along the valley road

    3.0       Sychpant Picnic Site and Pool is on your left just before a right hand bend in the road. After a brief stop here to explore, turn right out of the picnic site and retrace    your route through the valley once again until you get back to the start of the Trail. However before returning back down the valley from Sychpant, you have the option of cycling even further up the valley before turning around and heading back. This is all part of National Cycle Network Route 82 but is a bit hillier than the lower section of valley. If you decide to cycle further up the valley you will soon pass the very steep access up to Penlan Uchaf Gardens and Tea Room with stunning views across the valley to the Preseli mountains beyond. Another 2 miles and you arrive at a local brewing centre and beyond that is an interesting candle workshop and small museum

    6.0       Trail finish

     

    Points of Interest along the Way
    1. Llanychllwydog Pillar Stones. Five stones which can be clearly seen from the road in the grounds of the old church, now converted into a private house. Crosses of various designs have been carved into the stones, probably to Christianize the relics of earlier beliefs. This practice has been repeated at a number of sites in the area. A path through to an adjoining graveyard was recorded in Victorian archives as a location where ‘precursors of death’ premonitions had been observed – probably better not to overstay your welcome on this particular spot on the Trail

    2. St Brynach’s Church. A very short but worthwhile detour across the river and up the hill on the other side will bring you to St Brynach’s Church, originally founded in AD540. In the circular churchyard are 2 pillar stones with inscribed Latin crosses, thought to date from the time of the Saint himself. Brynach was said to have had angelic visions at the nearby Carn Ingli (Mountain of Angels)

    3. Dyffryn Arms. No trip to the Gwaun Valley is complete without a visit to this historic front room pub, a working reminder of the country pubs of earlier generations. Commonly known as “Bessie’s” - the landlady whose family has run the pub since 1840. There is no bar as such; drinks are served from a hatch in the front room

    4. Jabes Baptist Chapel. Built in 1803 and one of the few remaining chapels in Wales which has an outdoor baptistery, filled from the local river

    5. Sychpant Picnic Site and Pool. A site of Special Scientific Interest noted for its diverse range of plants and animals including 90 different species of lichen and 18 species of butterflies. This idyllic little place serves as a perfect resting spot but also a superb place from which to take short walks up through the adjacent woodlands to viewpoints above

    ID: 4144, revised 19/07/2019