have all heard of the outlook from Snowdon, of the commanding view near
Plynlimon, of the road across the Black Mountain, and of that gap
between the Brecon Beacons.
who has ever heard of the glories of Pencrugmelyn? Unwept, unhonoured
and unsung, this hill, which commands one of the finest views in Great
Britain, deserves a hymn of praise.
away modesty from the motorist and unmarked by the track of any vehicle
save the old-fashioned farmer’s cart, it provides inspiration for the
poet, a problem for the adventurer in search of road labyrinths, a
geography lesson for the student and a puzzle for the most skilled of
did not think as I set out from Carmarthen to go to Brechfa in the Cothi
Valley that I should come upon a view which has impressed me as much as
any in Wales. I turned off the Carmarthen-Lampeter road to the right
before coming to Rhyd-ar-gaeau. It was a sturdy, weather-beaten
Carmarthenshire farmer who put me on the track as I stopped to ask him
about the crops and about livestock prices.
with his rough stick towards some mounds on a hill a few miles away, he
said: “If you are going to Brechfa you must not forget to go to
Pencrugmelyn, where you can see five counties and look North, South,
East, and West and know what beauty is.” Near the mountain, he said,
once lived John Evans, the poet, a very learned man who sang penillion
and planted trees on the top of the hill. Further and higher I went in
search of Pencrugmelyn, which was not even marked upon the four miles to
an inch Ordnance Survey map I had. I sped along twisting roads, lined at
intervals with piles of dry heather, past white-washed cottages, with
that cleanliness for which Carmarthenshire is famed. Before long patches
of gorse appeared, but the bloom had long gone, for it was the first day
of August. Then the heather became thicker and thicker.
a medley of colours that road presented, with the hills blue in the
distance, with splashes of red flowers, with a chessboard of yellow
cornfields and green pastures on the upper slopes of the Towy to the
south, and with the jet black hue of several large crows which scattered
at the passing of the car!
search for Pencrugmelyn gave the journey that spice of adventure and joy
of discovery which are lacking when one scorches along main roads.
Twisting lanes go left and right until one is bewildered. Taking a wrong
road I found myself descending towards the Towy and stopped near a ripe
wheatfield where a laughing girl, with hair the colour of the corn, and
a farmer’s boy were setting up the wheat sheaves.
told me that the tricky lanes had led me astray and that I should have
to turn to go to the evasive Pencrugmelyn. But my wrong turning was not
in vain, for the fair-haired Carmarthenshire lassie told me of their
only wheatfield. “ We keep the wheat for our own use and take it to be
ground in the mill in the valley. We make our own bread, and it’s the
best bread in the world.”
a farm beyond Plas, called Brynmelyn, I asked Mr.
Richards, the farmer, the way, and he pointed to the mound on the hill.
“That is Pencrugmelyn,” he said. “We are all ‘melyns’ here.
There is my farm Brynmelyn, and there is also Clynmelyn. The word comes
from the colour ‘yellow’ and not from the word ‘mill.’”
pointed out with his sickle the strange mounds called “Crugiau” in
Welsh. “Near that mound,” he told me, “there was a cave, where a
savage old man lived some years ago. He used to steal food from the
farms and then creep back to his cave to dwell.”
directed me to turn to the right half a mile further and follow for some
hundreds of yards a mountain pathway. Carrying out his instructions, I
arrived near the ridge, where there were two mounds, and left the car,
to walk through a field on to the top. The view was superb.
circle of mountains stretched in all directions. Indeed, five counties
were to be seen—Breconshire, Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire,
Pembrokeshire, and Glamorgan. The Prescelly Mountains, although not more
than 1,760 feet high, looked like veritable giants, for they were
silhouetted against the west, where the sun was approaching. The Black
Mountains had a bluish haze.
was a South Wales view, for there was little of that North Wales
ruggedness which, however awe-inspiring, is sometimes hard and lonely.
There was a wealth of verdure from the Towy and Teifi directions. What
could that castle be towering in the south-east towards the Towy? It was
Carreg Cennen, which never looks more imposing than when seen at a
distance from Pencrugmelyn.
was the panorama from this undiscovered viewpoint of Wales. One could sit for
months there and hardly see a human being, except those who care for the
cattle. The road leading to the small ridge was covered with grass and
showed no tracks except horses’ hooves and cart-ruts.
climax to the ride is to descend through Horeb and to alight at Brechfa,
nestling in the Cothi Valley, rich in legend and song.
if one has been on top of Pencrugmelyn, then one can recline and rest in
pride at a great discovery.
August 4th, 1933.