Parts & Accessories

Travelling in the Cambrian Mountains

17th June 2021 | Marcus Leach
As we stand silently watching the slowly fading sun set the sky ablaze with a kaleidoscope of colours it’s hard to believe that we are in the heart of Wales. But for a few jagged peaks the scene before us would not look out of place in the Alps or Dolomites, and here we are in the Cambrian Mountains savouring a moment that will live long in the memory.
Bailey Adamo motorhome in the Cambrian mountains
The Bailey Adamo on the trail in the Cambrian Mountains

From the day we started planning the Big Family Adventure, which saw my parents join us in a Phoenix 640+, the intention was to head off the beaten track a little and, when it comes to Wales, there’s no better place for this than the Cambrian Mountains. Colloquially known as ‘the green desert of Wales’ due to it’s vast open stretches of land, it is often over-looked by virtue of being sandwiched between two of Wales’s three National Parks, Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking it hasn’t got as much to offer, because it most certainly has.

Such is the ruggedness of the land the makes up the region, there’s little infrastructure in the way of main roads, resulting in a true sense of isolation from the rest of the world. Not that this should put you off, far from it, only you will need to base yourself towards the edge of the area, as we did by staying at the wonderful Disserth Caravan and Camping site, and plan your adventures accordingly. For us, as a family who love the outdoors, it made for the perfect destination to spend a week exploring on bike, foot, kayak and paddle board, as well as some spectacular drives.

Here’s some of our favourite places to visit, and activities to do, in the region.

Family eating around table outside Bailey motorhome
Family meal at the campsite

Elan Valley Loop

Starting and finishing in the old Welsh market town of Rhayader this makes for a beautiful drive to see both the countryside and marvel at the ingenuity of the Victorian architecture of the dams that the valley is famed for. The roads are a little narrow in places, but there are plenty of passing spaces along the way. It also makes for a wonderful bike ride for those feeling a little more energetic.

Capel Soar y Mynydd

Dating back to 1822 this quaint little Welsh Calvinist Methodist Chapel once served the hill farmers of the remote upper valleys. It remains a site of active worship today, as well as a wonderful visitor attraction well worth the effort of driving to. From here there is a lovely there-and-back walk up along a gravel track leading along the side of Llyn Brianne Reservoir. With a babbling stream running across the bottom of the property it also makes for a perfect picnic spot.

Father and daughter paddleboarding in Cambrian Mountain lake
Paddleboarding in the lakes of the Cambrian Mountains

Teifi Pools

Situated near the small village of Pontrhydfendigaid, Teifi Pools is the collective name for a group of strikingly beautiful lakes (Llyn Teifi, Llyn Hir, Llyn Gorlan and Llyn Egnant) that can be combined with a visit to the ancient ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Strada Florida that dates back to the medieval times. The entire area around the pools and abbey is a walkers and cyclists haven, especially if you prefer off-road riding.

Claerwen Reservoir

The dead-end road up to Claerwen Reservoir from Elan Village is worth a drive in itself, but the real beauty is what lies at top of the dam wall. Where the tarmac ends a single-file gravel track continues, snaking its way around the edge of the reservoir and into the heart of the wilderness that gives the area its appeal. Ideal for mountain bikes, doable in a 4×4 and a great walk. It’s also famed for being an ideal spot to star-gaze from, with some particularly striking images captured with the reservoir wall under star-studded skies.

Family cycling in the Cambrians
The Cambrian Mountains is a perfect place for mountain bikes

Llyn Brianne Reservoir

Most people head to the end of the reservoir where the dam wall is, which whilst interesting and ideal for a walk across the dam wall itself, is not the best spot – unless you want an ice-cream, given there is often a little van there in the summer months. That accolade belongs to the other end, where a small island juts out into the water, next to shallow shores. Here there’s a few rustic fire pits and BBQ spots that make for the perfect place to spend the day on the water’s edge, or even bring a tent and extend your adventure by camping out for the night.

Whilst we have, in various combinations of family members, been coming to the Cambrian Mountains for some years now, it’s a place that we will always be drawn back to given the seemingly endless variety of adventures we can have here. Never have we been and felt it was busy, more often than not we will spend entire days without seeing other people on the tracks and trails we are exploring. So, if you like you trips with a healthy dose of solitude, ample outdoor adventures and the chance to go off-grid, this is definitely the place for you.

Bailey motorhome in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales
The Cambrians are a great place to get away from it all