The Gwaun Valley in Preseli Hills: Warpool Court Hotel’s Peter Trier on Highlights
“Whether your goal for your holidays in Pembrokeshire is a filled schedule or an unplanned adventure, Warpool Court Hotel is the best accommodation to meet every kind of wish,” says proprietor Peter Trier.
Often Mr. Trier directs guests after breakfast at the Sea View Restaurant to take a drive through the Preseli Hills, where it’s believed the bluestones of Stonehenge hail from. It’s widely held that they’re from Carn Meini, although no one is quite sure how the two-tonne blocks were transported to their final destination. The Preselis are at the centre of local folklore. ‘The Mabinogion’ - a collection of tales possibly 1,000 years old – depicts the battle of King Arthur with a wild boar at Foel Cwmcerwyn. The large stones in this area are said to represent Arthur and four of his knights, with King Arthur’s resting place rumoured to be at Beddarthur (Arthur’s Grave).
In the heart of the Preseli Hills, you’ll find the Gwaun Valley. It’s a place where you’ll step back in history. Old traditions still remain in this area. In the 18th century, locals in the hamlets of Pontfaen and Llanychaer refused to change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Gwaun communities still mark the old New Year’s Day on January 13th which is called Hen Galan.
To appreciate the legend and tranquility of the Hills, take a walk around the Gwaun Valley, either on your own or with a Wales Official Tourist Guides Association representative. For most of the valley’s 10 miles, you’ll be trekking within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. However you choose to travel by foot, there are plenty of signposts for walkers to be found throughout the area.
The Companion Guide to Wales describes Cwm Gwaun as ‘one of the most important meltwater channels from the last ice age to be found in the British Isles’. Walk along where glacier melt water formed the valley, and the River Gwaun weaves its way from the Preselis to Fishguard. The marshes and ancient woodland are home to a variety of lovely trees. Alder, ash, beech, rowan, sessile oak, willow and water meadows dot the route. Woodland birds you may see include dippers, march tits, nuthatches, pied flycatchers, redstarts, sparrow hawks, tree creepers and wood warblers.
During two world wars, wood here was the source of timber and oak pip props for mining. A railway carried the timber to the Pontfaen sawmill.
On your way towards Fishguard, a bit north of Llanychaer, you’ll find site of the Bronze Age stones of Parc y Meirw (Field of the Dead), with four stones still standing. This is the only known stone row in West Wales.
At Llanychaer's St. David’s Church, you’ll find a stone with etchings more than 1,200 years old. Known as the Crucifixion Stone. Similar to etchings found in France and Spain, there are images on all four sides, with one depiction said to be that of Christ.
In the village of Pontfaen, St. Brynach’s Church is home to 2 stones with Latin crosses, believed inscribed between the 6th and 9th centuries. Nearby Jabes Baptist Chapel is one of the few remaining Welsh chapels with an outdoor baptistry filled from the river. Although the chapel was constructed in 1803, it looks newer after restorations in 1903.
Beer making has been a popular pastime in these parts for many years. It’s now home to a couple of microbreweries. Your nose might tell you that you’ve arrived – there’s the smell of malted barley and hops in the air on brewing day. Choose from two: the Bluestone Brewery at the northern end of the valley or the Gwaun Valley Brewery further west. Visit the Gwaun Valley Brewery for the stunning views or, on a Saturday night, stay around for folk music lessons. The Bluestone Brewery serves as a music venue, with live events in warm months.
On your way out of the valley, head up the road from the Bluestone Brewery to the Pembrokeshire Candle Centre. You’ll find a workshop where candles are made by hand and a mini-museum that shows how candles have been made for centuries.
At the end of your day, you’ll be happy to return to Warpool Court Hotel and relax with a dip in the pool or a quick round of tennis.
Check availability for your holiday stay now, either for our secluded holiday cottage or one of our 22 ensuite rooms, each with its own spectacular view of either the coastline or the Pembrokeshire countryside.