Originally the term “Cambrian Mountains” was applied in a general sense to most of upland Wales. Since the 1950s, its application has become increasingly localised to the geographically homogeneous Mid Wales uplands of Pumlumon, Elenydd, and Mynydd Mallaen.
The Cambrian Mountains are remote and sparsely-populated, and were described by writers in past centuries as the “Green Desert of Wales” – not the most promising of nicknames for one of the most beautiful, colourful and varied landscapes in southern Britain!
The Cambrian Mountains almost fill the space between their better-known neighbours, the Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Parks. In 1965, a process was started to designate a Cambrian Mountains National Park. The story of that attempt, and its ultimate failure in 1973, can be read elsewhere on this website.
Fifty years later, the Cambrian Mountains are still one of Wales’ most special places – a peaceful, largely unspoiled landscape with a rich cultural history and vibrant natural beauty.
The map on this page shows the (rejected) national park boundary, as a convenient way of defining the area with which this website, and the Cambrian Mountains Society, concerns itself. The area within the boundary is distinguished by the integrity and high quality of its landscape, by land use, and by socio-economic and cultural factors; it is largely moorland over 300m high, and the boundary generally follows the bases of the steeper hillsides.
The area includes parts of the unitary authority areas of Powys (50%), Ceredigion (40%) and Carmarthenshire (10%), and of 17 electoral wards, whose total population is 30,000 (2001 census) though it is likely that the number of people living within the boundary is only around 10% of that figure.
The predominant land uses are agriculture (~85%) – mainly hill sheep farms – and forestry (~15%). Only relatively small areas are occupied by other land uses such as settlements, reservoirs, quarries, and old mines.
The highest point in the Cambrian Mountains is Pen Pumlumon Fawr (752m/2468′).
Click the Landscape links to learn more about the Cambrian Mountains.