Cefn Bryn, Arthur’s Stone & Broadpool Walk – Gower
This walk follows the Cefn Bryn, affording spectacular views of the south Gower coast and visiting King Arthur’s Stone. Don’t forget to stop for a well earned pint at the King Arthur Hotel for lunch. For the more adventurous you can extend the walk a further 2 miles to take in the sinkhole system of Moor Mills and Broadpool.
For those of you not staying with us you are welcome to use this walk but as there are no rights of way through the grounds, please just park and start the walk from the national trust car park in Penmaen.
Distance covered: 8 miles Average time: 2.5 hours Terrain: Easy underfoot but hilly terrain.
Directions & Gallery
Directions from the B&B:
Walk out of the front door of the house and turn right, then across the grassy field until you reach the track at the far end. Follow the track passing the trout ponds on your right and valley gardens on your left. Immediately after this there is a crossroads – take the track straight on between the fields and through the woods.
At the end of the woodlands you will cross a stile next to a gate - here the main track will veer to the left but you need to take the small stony path which heads up the hill in a "2 o’clock" direction. (Do not take the path immediately on your right which follows the wood boundary.)
The stile you have just climbed over crosses the old deer park boundary wall which was constructed in the 13th century to enclose around 2000 acres of land for hunting deer. It can still be traced, all but unbroken to this day on the local OS map (see image). The original boundary would likely have been a wooden pail set atop an earthen bank flanked by a ditch. At some later date the structure was replaced with stone and hedges took hold over much of its length.
Following the parks foundation in the 1220s the area was reduced to approximately half when the eastern segment was converted into a manorial farm some time before 1337.
When you meet the un-surfaced road at the top of the rise follow it to the right - you will see Cefn Bryn (a name which translates to 'hill' or 'ridge') rising up in front of you.
Next take the rough road on your left directly up the steep climb to the top of the hill. Look for a small grass track looping off to your left when you reach the top. Turn off here and sit down out of the wind to admire the views.
The road you have just walked on is known locally as Talbot’s Road. This was named after Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot, squire of Penrice Castle, who was a keen huntsman and would lead his hounds back to Penrice after hunting in the Parc-le-Breos estate.
Once rested, continue along the track, always taking the way which keeps you on the crest of the hill. The track will rise and fall, following the peaks which make up the ridge of Cefn Bryn until after about 2.5 miles you will reach the main road near to Reynoldston village (there’s often a welcome ice cream van here in the summer!)
If you are feeling peckish at this point you may want to turn left down the hill to find the King Arthur hotel, a local pub that serves good food. As you descend the hill you cant miss it - out in front of you about half a mile away.
From the main road continue through the small car park in the direction you were heading. After about 750m you will find King Arthur's Stone laying in front of you.
Arthur’s stone or Maen Ceti is one of over 200 cairns located on Cefn Bryn. It is composed of a huge lump of quartz conglomerate over 4 metres long and 2 meters wide, and weighing over 25 tons. It is thought to be a Neolithic chambered tomb for the communal burial of the dead. In the past, the stone attracted visitors from far and wide. Records show that Henry VII’s troops, having landed at Milford Haven en route to battle at Bosworth Field, made a 128 kilometre detour to visit the stone. In the 16th century the site was listed as one of the “three mighty achievements of the Isle of Britain ” (the other two being the Stonehenge and Silbury Hill monuments). The tomb was however not excavated until 1870 by Sir Gardiner Wilkinson. It later became one of the first sites to be protected under the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882.
Despite its early fame, we now understand that the tomb is not quite the engineering feat that it first appears - it is actually a glacial erratic, deposited here randomly by the glaciers. Neolithic man merely excavated beneath the stone placing 12 upright stones to support its weight and creating the two chambered tomb.
The stone has many legends associated with it. The most famous explanation for its being is from the legend of King Arthur, who, whilst travelling in Carmarthenshire, discovered a pebble in his boot and threw it across the Burry estuary, landing many miles away on the ridge of Cefn Bryn. Apparently the stone grew some what as it flew! Legend also has it that on occasions the stone will find its way back down to the Burry estuary to quench its thirst.
Another favourite Gower folk law is that on a full moon, young maidens would make an offering of cake baked from Barley meal and honey, before crawling around the stone on their hands and knees. If their boy suitor appeared before they had finished their final circuit, it was proof that he would make a faithful husband.
Once you have finished exploring Arthur’s Stone, you can follow the path to the north (when you first approached the stone this would be to your right.) You can follow the path back around towards the main road, and back track along the top of the hill or if you prefer, drop down to the path at the base of the hill on the north side and follow the line of the hill all the way back to the house.
For the Adventurous Only!
If you feel like extending the walk by a couple of miles and visiting Moor Mills (a massive sink hole complex) and Broadpool (take note of its location next to the main road before you drop down the hill) take the following route:
Again follow the path to the north of Arthur’s Stone, but look out on your left for a narrow path dropping directly down the hill. Now this is where it gets tricky (but worthwhile) - turn down the narrow path, and in front of you is open common criss-crossed by tracks and sheep paths. About half way between you and the tree lined edge of the common, you will make out a green grassy area, this is Moor Mills. You need to just head straight for it making use of whatever paths you can, remember cotton grass means wet ground (and wet feet!), bracken means dry ground (and happy feet!) Good luck!!!
Personally I love Moor Mills, and think it is well worth the effort to get there. It's also known as Happy Valley by the locals, possibly on account of a particular species of mushroom which grows well in the area (the liberty cap or more commonly known as the magic mushroom!) The valley is formed by a series of sink holes in the lime stone strata causing the land to subside over time to leave a beautiful deep grassy valley.
When you have finished exploring the nooks and crannies of the valley you will need to climb out and head toward the main road and Broadpool, again by whatever ground you think will keep your feet dry.
Broadpool is a shallow acidic pond, rich in wildlife. It's notable for the presence of the fringed water lily, thought to have been introduced to the pond around 1952. The aquatic vegetation is dominated by Flote-grass, but you will also find other rare plants such as Lesser Marshwort and Alternate Water-Milfoil here along with amphibians, dragonflies, damselflies and a wide variety of birds.
The easiest way back to the house from here is to cross the road and follow the verge up the hill. Look out for a well used track on your left - there are at least two which will take you up towards the ridge of the hill. A third one is a stone road suitable for vehicles which you definitely won't miss.
The paths will take you up towards the ridge of the hill, but when you come across a wide grassy track crossing your path just before the steep climb up to the top of the ridge, turn left. You will follow this path along the base of the hill and meet the top path (which you walked earlier) at a crossroads just before the climb up top the highest peak of the Bryn. From here just backtrack all the way to the house along the route that you walked earlier in the day.
Parc Le Breos House