Desert of Wales

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The Desert of Wales seen from Drygarn Fawr

The Desert of Wales, or Green Desert of Wales, is a term coined to describe a large area in central Wales, so called because of its lack of roads and towns and its inaccessibility. The term was invented by English travel writers in the nineteenth century and its equivalent is not found in the Welsh language. The area corresponds roughly to the upland area called Elenydd in Welsh and also referred to locally as the Cambrian Mountains.

Extent[edit]

In this case the word "desert" is used in the sense of an area uninhabited by humans (as in "desert island"), not in the sense of an arid desert. The area has high rainfall and much of it is covered by peat overlain with moor grass or by plantations of non-native conifers. The soil tends to be acidic.[1] There is no exact definition of the extent of the Desert of Wales, but it is bordered to the east by the A470 and the town of Rhayader, to the south by the A483 from Builth Wells to Llanwrda, to the west by the A482 from Llanwrda to Pumpsaint, and from there northwards by a series of country roads up to Tregaron. The northern boundary is generally taken to be the A44 between Ponterwyd and Llangurig, although the substantial area of moorland to the north of this road, including the reservoirs of Nant y Moch and Llyn Clywedog, has similar topography.

History[edit]

The term Desert of Wales has been used to describe the area since at least 1860 when the following was written:

"The locality we were now traversing is one of the most untamed and desolate in either division of the Principality; it has indeed with perfect truth been called the "great desert of Wales." Vast sweeping ranges of hills with round tops, add to the dreary aspect of this nearly unpeopled region..."[2]

Travel is limited to narrow roads, forestry tracks, footpaths and bridleways. It is a sparsely populated area, consisting largely of rolling hills, gorges and steep valleys with ancient native Welsh Oak forest.

Ancient ruins[edit]

The ruins of Strata Florida Abbey are located on the road from Tregaron.

Below Clywedog reservoir dam

Wildlife[edit]

This was the only area in the United Kingdom that supported the last native Welsh Red Kites until their widespread revival in the 1980s.[1]

Water resources[edit]

The area has many lakes and reservoirs, some of which supply drinking water to towns and cities in the English West Midlands (Elan Valley group of reservoirs), to the towns of northern Ceredigion (Teifi Pools), and to towns all along the River Severn valley (Llyn Clywedog).

Drainage[edit]

It is drained by the Afon Teifi, River Cothi, River Towy, Afon Irfon, Elan Valley, River Wye, Afon Ystwyth, Afon Mynach, River Rheidol

See also[edit]

  • Elenydd - a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Ceredigion, west Wales.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ceredigion, A Wealth of History
  2. ^ Solitudes of Wales

Other sources[edit]

  • Morgan, Gerald (2005). Ceredigion, A Wealth of History. Ceredigion, Wales: Gomer. ISBN 1-84323-348-7. 
  • Cliffe, John Henry (1860). Notes and Recollections of an Angler: Rambles Among the Mountains, Valleys, and Solitudes of Wales. London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co. 

External links[edit]