One of the most striking hills in Pembrokeshire, rocky Carningli is a brooding presence over the town of Newport.
When the sun is setting, Carningli’s profile against the red sky makes the hill look rather like the volcano it once was. Its hard dolerite rock is the solid core of cooled magma that was once the volcano’s heart. Don’t worry though, it last erupted around 450 million years ago.
Carningli translates as the Mountain of Angels. It may have been a holy site long before Christian times but since the Age of the Saints the hilltop has been associated with the Celtic St Brynach. Not a great deal is known about Brynach, who was a 6th century missionary. One of the few references to him describes him as a ‘Son of Israel’ and he is also said to have talked with animals and birds. Brynach is also said to have communed with angels, possibly at the top of Carningli.
This route keeps to the southern flank of Mynydd Carningli, typical Preselis upland where coarse grass and heather grow between a tumble of weathered rock.
Listen out for the song of skylarks and you may also hear the harsh nasal call of ravens. Carningli Common provides grazing for free-roaming sheep and ponies.
Everywhere there are clues to past occupation. There was a hill fort on Carningli during the Iron Age, while the remains of groups of huts from the Bronze Age can be found between Carningli and Carn Edward.
The route also passes through the wooded Cwm Gwaun, a beautiful valley that can seem hidden away from the ‘world’ beyond the hills. In the 18th century the people of the Gwaun chose to resist reform of the calendar and continue to celebrate new year 11 days later than the rest of Britain.
Text provided by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park web site.