There's plenty to discover on The Cambrian Way, one of the three Wales Way routes. Here are some of the highlights.

Adventure – Cambrian Mountains Area of Astounding Natural Beauty Wales

The Bala loop

Head east from Trawsfynydd and the road sweeps past the much-painted Arenig mountains to Llyn Tegid. It’s the largest natural lake in Wales, with its own unique species of fish – the Gwyniad - and is popular with windsurfers, yachters and anglers. Bala itself has always played a big role in Welsh culture and politics. A few miles north, the River Tryweryn was dammed in 1965 to create a reservoir to supply Liverpool, submerging the village of Capel Celyn. Cofiwch Dryweryn – Remember Tryweryn – is still a rallying cry (and graffiti slogan) of the nationalist movement.

Road from Bala to Trawsfynydd
Lake with pontoon in foreground and boats and countryside in background.
lake with tree and hills in background.

The stunning views on the route between Bala and Trawsfynydd and Llyn Tegid, North Wales

Over the top

Locals tend to cut the corner between Machynlleth and Llanidloes by going past Llyn Clywedog via the Narrow Mountain Road. It’s a twisty, swoopy road for much of the way, but plenty wide enough for two-way traffic if you take care. The best views are northbound: stop at the Wynford Vaughan-Thomas memorial for the greatest of all. This vast panorama of Eryri (Snowdonia) was the venerable broadcaster’s favourite view in the world.

large lake with greenery.
The view from the Wynford Vaughan-Thomas memorial on the slopes of Moel Fadian.

Llyn Clywedog and the Wynford Vaughan-Thomas memorial, Mid Wales 

The Welsh lakelands

Victorian travellers called the Cambrian Mountains the ‘green desert of Wales’: big space, no people. It’s still our most thinly-populated (by humans, at least) quarter: wildlife rules the roost in this vast landscape. The Elan Valley Visitor Centre is the best place to start. They’ll recommend driving, walking and cycling routes around the network of dams and reservoirs, and the moorland and woodland that surrounds them. You can hire a bike there too. There are trails for all abilities, including two downhill skill tracks for more experienced and intermediate mountain biking enthusiasts. 

car driving on stone bridge with reservoir.
A dam holding back the water of the reservoir amongst hills beyond.
A mountain biker doing a jump amongst forestry.

Elan Valley reservoirs, Mid Wales

The Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons)

The A470 cuts through a dramatic pass in the Bannau Brycheiniog mountains in the centre of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park. But it’s worth exploring the Beacons’ sister ranges. To the west, the Black Mountain (singular) falls away into the Carmarthenshire, stopping just shy of Llandeilo. To the east, the Black Mountains (plural – confusing, isn’t it?) stretch to the English border (the fabulous Green Man festival takes place in this range, at Crickhowell). And to the south, Waterfall Country has the best concentration of cascades and gorges in Britain.

The green peaks of the Brecon Beacons, South Wales.
Bild eines breiten Wasserfalls von oben, umgeben von Bäumen.

Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park, Mid Wales

The food tour

Head east to Abergavenny, and you’ve reached the food capital of Wales. Abergavenny Food Festival takes place here in September, and there's a cluster of first-rate restaurants in Monmouthshire and the Wye Valley. The Walnut Tree, The Whitebrook (both Michelin-starred), The HardwickThe Bear Hotel… they’re all pit-stops par excellence.

The sign for The Hardwick, Abergavenny.
A plated meal at The Walnut Tree, Abergavenny.

The Hardwick and food from The Walnut Tree, Wye Valley, South Wales

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