Our area stretches from Devil’s Bridge down to Tregaron and includes the communities of the Ystwyth and Rheidol valleys. Our namesake, Pumlumon, is the highest summit in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales and dominates the countryside of north Ceredigion. Three rivers, the Severn, the Rheidol and the Wye, descend from these mountains through dramatic and varied scenery to the coast at Aberystwyth, while a fourth, the Teifi, heads south towards Cardigan.
The wild summits, rolling foothills, and deep valleys of the Pumlumon massif have for centuries acted as a formidable barrier, making this one of the least-known parts of Wales. The landscape bears the scars of its history, carved by nature, industry and religion. Today, the remote, peaceful atmosphere and lack of urban centres and development are among the area’s greatest assets.
We have been welcoming tourists here for some 250 years. The fashion for making “Picturesque” tours brought the leisured classes to the upland parts of Britain, there to wonder at, describe, and sketch the mountains, waterfalls, rural scenes, and ancient ruins. Wales, having its own language and distinctive culture and heritage, seemed to these early tourists an exotic foreign land, and nowhere more so than among the hills of Cardiganshire (now Ceredigion). Its popularity increased with the development of the Hafod Estate as a model picturesque landscape. Artists, travel writers, and romantic poets celebrated the area in their works.
In sharp contrast, from the 1830s lead mining became big business and the uplands became an industrial landscape. New villages grew up, with numerous inns and a frontier character, reservoirs were constructed to provide water-power, and a railway was built from Devil’s Bridge to the coast. Miners migrated to the area from Cornwall, Yorkshire, and elsewhere: their names can be found on gravestones in country churchyards and some of their descendants are here still. Today, the old mine buildings and tips have mostly been absorbed back into the landscape.
Today, the Pumlumon area is a sum of numerous historic layers in a wonderful natural setting. You will find many way-marked trails, and there is an inexhaustible supply of public footpaths through hugely varied scenery. With so many different habitats, the whole Pumlumon area is a paradise for bird-watchers, and even the untrained eye can quickly learn to spot our most special bird, the red kite.