Climbing Pumlumon Fawr in Wales is truly a wonderful way to escape modern life and connect with nature. The first thing that strikes you as you summit Pumlumon Fawr is the sheer remoteness of this rugged landscape.
There are few spectacular day hikes in the UK that aren’t overrun with tourists, all desperate for a summit selfie.
Unlike other tourist-heavy, hiking hotspots, there are no queues, crowds or litter at the most secret mountain in Wales.
Climbing Pumlumon Fawr Wales
At 2468ft, elusive Pumlumon Fawr, [Plynlimon is the anglicised name], is the highest point in Central Wales and is a unique feature of the Cambrian Mountains.
Other significant peaks in the area include Pen Pumlumon Arwystli, Pumlumon Fach, Pen Pumlumon Llygad-bychan and Pen Pumlumon Arwystli.
It’s a mountain that has escaped the attention of day-trippers and selfies seekers, who instead head to the familiar peaks of Snowdon and Pen y Fan In Brecon, for those coveted Instagram shots.
This might be because it’s definitely not a ‘have a go’ kind of mountain. There’s no marked trails, cafes, toilets, massive tour groups, or gift shops here. It’s truly the last wilderness in Wales.
The Cambrian Way
Pumlumon Fawr is part of the Cambrian Way, an incredibly scenic and challenging long-distance trail from Cardiff to Conwy. It’s over 298 miles through some of the wilder parts of Wales.
If you’re walking the central section of the Cambrian Way, bring a Walking the Cambrian Way guidebook. It’s essential reading for long-distance hikers and wild campers.
- Elevation: 752 m
- Difficulty: Challenging
- Grid Reference: SN 78971 86945
- Facilities: None on the route
- OS Map: Landranger Map 135
How to get to Pumlumon Fawr
Pumlumon Fawr is located in Ceredigion near Ponterwyd. It’s around an hour from Aberystwyth and 30 minutes from Devil’s Bridge. The Grid Reference for the mountain is SN 78971 86945.
If you summit from the north side, you will need to drive towards Nant y Moch Reservoir and park in a small layby. There’s no parking or obvious signage, so you’ll need to rely on maps, or go with a local guide.
There are 5 main hiking trails for Pumlumon that vary in distance and ascent. If you climb Pumlumon from the northern side of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with the most spectacular scenery.
We did the Caradoc Jones Trail to the summit via Llyn Llygad Rheidol, with guide Dafydd from Pumlumon Trails. This route starts from Nant y Moch reservoir and takes around 4 hours to complete.
Hiking Pumlumon Fawr
The initial ascent from Nant y Moch reservoir involves scrambling up some boggy and slippery terrain, as you follow a stream up.
There are no signage or trail markers here, which is probably why you won’t see many day-trippers milling around.
It’s a challenging trek for hardcore hikers due to the remoteness, lack of signage and boggy terrain. You are very much on your own at Pumlumon Fawr, there’s no exit via the gift shop.
We were fortunate enough to have a guide with us, as there are no clear route markings as you make your way up Pumlumon Fawr.
It’s important to be properly prepared for this hike, to know the terrain and to be adequately kitted out.You don’t want to be the hapless tourists that need to be rescued because you wore flip flops up a mountain.
The solitude is both awe-inspiring and eerie on this trail. If you are a hiker that finds comfort in crowds, this is not the trek for you.
It’s likely that you won’t see another soul on this hike. It’s one of the few wild places left that haven’t succumbed to mass tourism and development.
Caradoc Jones Trail
The Caradoc Jones Trail to the summit is the shortest route to the summit and is named after the first Welshman to climb Everest.
This route takes you over the pass between Pumlumon Fach and Pumlumon Fawr and by Llyn Llygad Rheidol, the source of the Afon Rheidol.
It’s a glorious yet challenging route through some of the most tranquil scenery in Wales. I couldn’t shake the excitement and trepidation of the solitude as we made our way cautiously up.
It’s always mildly disconcerting to realise that you are the only people around for miles. This is a lonely and majestic mountain, that demands respect and foreboding in equal measures.
You really need to be an experienced hiker or go with a mountain guide on this remote route. The weather can change rapidly here and with a lack of trail markers, it’s really easy to get lost.
Pumlumon Fawr summit
You can normally guess when you are nearing the summit on a popular mountain as crowds will be congregating for a summit selfie.
There have been recent reports of hundreds queuing at Snowdon to capture their final ascent for Instagram. At the summit of Pumlumon Fawr, the only queues were 2 paragliders waiting for the right moment to boldly take their leap of faith.
The panoramic views from the summit of Pumlumon Fawr are nothing short of utterly extraordinary. You can see as far as Cadair Idris, Snowdon and Aran Fawddwy to the north. The full sweep of Cardigan Bay can also be seen, from Pen Llŷn in the north, right down to Pembrokeshire in the south.
Have a Welsh style afternoon tea at the summit and brew up a cup of Morgans Brew Tea, to have with a cheeky slice of Bara brith. It will definitely warm you up and give you an energy burst for the climb down.
Take a moment to soak up the surroundings at the top, take many photos and bask in your hiking achievement.
Climbing Pumlumon Fawr is no easy feat, so take your time at the summit before heading back down.
Why you should climb Plynlimon
If you are after a challenging trek in an off-beat location, then this is the mountain for you. The scenery is on par with the most popular day hike locations but with none of the crowds.
How long this will be the case at Plynlimon ultimately depends on how developed the area becomes? At present, it’s really only known to locals and serious hikers. So it’s likely you won’t see another soul on your trek.
I feel like it’s only a matter of time before this secret mountain gets the attention it deserves, so climb it before the masses descend.
Where to stay near Pumlumon
I would recommend basing yourself near Devil’s Bridge, Ponterwyd, the Elan Valley, or Aberystwyth.
The Cambrian Mountains have a great range of awesome accommodation if you’re looking for somewhere to stay for this hike.
Choose from local hotels, charming cottages, traditional B&B’s, quirky AirBnb’s and glamping pods.
You can find a hotel to suit your budget and length of time by using online price comparison sites such as Booking.com, to find the best hotel deals in the area.
Why not rent a room from a local with Airbnb? There are several accommodation options nearby including yurts, cottages and glamping.
By booking a local Airbnb you can take your pick of accommodation located in more residential areas and even stay with a local.
Stay at The Hafod
The Hafod Hotel is a Bar, Brasserie and Hotel in the most perfect location. It is mere steps away from the Devil’s Bridge Falls. It’s a proper lush hotel that’s surrounded by tranquil woodlands and gorges.
Enjoy a swanky room or suite and even book a weekend package that suits you, including a walking break, chill and pamper break and culinary experience break.
Devil’s Bridge hotel
Make sure to also book a table at their charming Bar and Brasserie, the dishes are rather delicious.
Typical menu offerings include local trout, Devil’s beast burger, pie of the day, steak, and Mexican Vegetable burrito.
Pumlumon hiking checklist
Make sure you are fully prepared for a day: in the mountains with this handy, Pumlumon packing list:
- Decent hiking boots
- Pack a travel first aid kit
- Download Refill Wales App
- Bring a reusable water bottle
- Download what3words location app
- Carry a Walking the Cambrian Way guidebook
Pumlumon Fawr stats and facts
- Height in Metres: 752 metres
- Range: Central Wales – Pumlumon
- Grid Reference: SN 78971 86945
- Parking: No Car parks – use layby
- Facilities: No toilets or cafes – take supplies
- Guide: Book a trip with Pumlumon Trails
If you love walking in Wales, why not join Ramblers Cymru?
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Some of the benefits of joining Ramblers include:
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What do you think of my guide to hiking Pumlumon Fawr? Are you planning to visit this beautiful area? Let us know in the comments below.
Wales Travel Planning
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