Gelli Fawr

Short Walk

DISTANCE/DURATION: 3.2 miles (5.1 km) 1 hour 30 minutes.
CHARACTER: Wooded slopes, moorland, livestock, can be wet and muddy, 0.6 mile (0.9 km) minor road walking.
LOOK OUT FOR: Waterfall, wooded slopes and valleys. Scenic views and birds of prey.

Gelli Fawr sits between two Preseli hills. To the north is Carningli, a brooding outcrop above the coastal town of Newport. To the south is Foel Eryr (eryr is Welsh for eagle), a 468m (1,535 feet) summit that is topped with a Bronze Age burial cairn.

The route finds its way between the open uplands of the Preselis and the sheltered, wooded landscape of the valley of the River Gwaun. It is an atmospheric place – one old story tells of a local man’s fatal encounter near Llanerch with a tall, dark stranger, the Grim Reaper.

The River Gwaun rises in the Preselis and flows through the beautiful, wooded Gwaun Valley to the sea at Fishguard. The valley is a relict of the Ice Age, formed by floods of meltwater that flowed as the glaciers retreated.

Pembrokeshire lay on the edge of a huge ice sheet that filled the Irish Sea and the Gwaun’s v-shaped profile suggests that it was cut by water flowing under the ice itself.

Look out for a ruined mill near the route at Pandy. This building was a fulling mill, where water-powered hammers were used to treat wool before it was made into cloth.

The valley is sometimes described as the ‘secret’ cwm, and it does certainly have sense of mystery about it.

That strangeness is, perhaps, heightened because the valley communities refused to accept modernization of the calendar in the 18th century and the Old New Year, Hen Galan, is still celebrated each January 13th.

Carol Owen, North Sector Ranger for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, says: “If you are very lucky you may see a red kite when you’re walking this part of the Gwaun Valley. The birds are now regularly seen in Pembrokeshire.”

Find this Walk

Grid ref: SN057354


  • Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
  • Guard against all risk of fire
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Keep your dogs under close control
  • Keep to public paths across farmland
  • Take your litter home