This is another wonderful walk that is not difficult or long, keeps on well-marked tracks, yet has a very ‘wild’ feel to it. The so-called ‘Pools’ are really a collection of delightful moderate-sized lakes, the largest of which, Llyn Teifi, is the source of the Afon Teifi. The lakes are set like sparkling gems amongst dark craggy high land, devoid of trees, on the edge of the Elenydd plateau. Despite the wild, desolate atmosphere, the lakes are very accessible, and you could even drive to within a short distance of them if you wanted to give ‘non-walkers’ a taste of the addictive nature of this hill country. I recommend that you choose a sunny, bright day, which brings out the best of this ‘mini lake district’. It has the added attraction of a visit to Strata Florida Abbey, the most important site in mid-Wales from the era of early Welsh Christianity.
The starting point for this walk is a small lay-by type car park (holds 3 or 4 cars) near Tyncwm, 2½ km East of Strata Florida Abbey. If coming from Aberystwyth, it takes about 30 minutes by car. Take the B4340 for 24½ km (15.4 miles) to Pontrhydfendigaid village, then turn left into Abbey Road. It also makes a very enjoyable and ‘doable’ cycle ride via the Ystwyth Trail cycle track, the old Aberystwyth-Carmarthen railway line.
To find the car park, you will have driven past the start of the path, where there is an obvious seat and signpost, about 100m back along the very small road from Strata Florida.
Turn off the road at the signpost and head up the valley of Cwm Egnant on the clear grassy path. In about 400m you cross a footbridge over Nant Egnant, then soon jump across a smaller stream and ascend to a track coming from Tyncwm.
You are on the Cambrian Way long distance path which runs the length of Wales from Cardiff (Caerdydd) to Conway (Conwy), as indicated on the signpost! The path continues to ascend very gradually with the small river down to your left.
Here the valley narrows, and you can look down on the rushing stream below, and a lovely view opening out behind you. Soon you will need to cross the stream at a ‘ford’ (on the map), which you can usually do without getting wet feet, then following the curving path which gradually gets further from the stream on the right, with a wider view gradually opening out ahead.
You can see the path winding away over the open country ahead of you, until you get to a distinctive cairn which is almost at the highest point.
A little more gentle uphill, bending round to the left, and Llyn Egnant starts to come into view with its small dam.
Level with the dam, the path becomes a roughly surfaced narrow lane running alongside the lake.
Keep following the lane as it skirts the widest part of the lake, then takes a left turn to head straight up the hill ahead. Looking back, you get a lovely view down towards Llyn Egnant.
Finally you arrive at a T-junction of lanes, where you turn left on the rather better-surfaced road. Follow this for almost 1 km, noticing views of Llyn Hir to your left, but ignoring the track that leads down to it. In another ½ km you ascend to a prominent junction with a lane to the left, marked by a post.
Turning left here, you immediately get a lovely view down to Llyn Teifi and a downhill walk to a metal gate with signs. One of the signs is ‘No unauthorised entry’ but this means for motor vehicles, as all this area is Access Land, and you are legally entitled to enter on foot. Fortunately, the gate is openable, and you carry on through.
Walk along the lane above the lake for about 700m, to arrive at a more impressive dam this time, which is about halfway along the main arm of the lake.
At the gate across the path by the dam, you will see a track leading to the left within the enclosure of the dam area. Go through the gate, and follow the track down at first, then up again along the grass behind the low concrete wall on the top of the dam, over a hillock, then again behind a further length of wall. Watch out for a grassy area on the right, with a concrete block… this is where you turn off right down the hill away from the lake.
A faint track leads past the concrete block, over the derelict fence and then down through the tussocks for a short distance, before you meet a better track crossing… Turn right here.
Walking down this beautiful zig-zagging path, enjoy the lovely view down the valley of the upper Teifi (Cwm Teifi) with the graceful craggy hill of Pen y Bryn (439m) to the right.
According to the map, a short distance further on the path seems to go right through a gate and over the main stream, then back over it again very soon after… It would seem preferable to keep going straight on here instead, following the obvious yellow flash painted on a fence post. Even this way is not immune from adventurous leaps on makeshift stepping stones across streams…
After that, things are easy, following the path gradually round to the left towards the derelict farm of Fron Goch.
Cattle are kept in the fields of the non-Access Land ahead through which the Public Right of Way runs. But we found that they can easily be avoided, if required (eg if you have a dog with you, and/or they are obviously with calves) by either walking along the edges of the pastures, or even keeping just inside the Access Land to the left of the fenceline running up the hill, rejoining the path further on.
The main track through Frongoch soon arrives at the renovated house of Troed-y-rhiw. Be careful here not to drop down to the road via the house’s driveway, but keep more to the left between the trees on the grassy track with a nice view to the right down the valley.
Then the path narrows to skirt round to the left on the steep hillside, descending gradually to eventually meet the road about 300m from the signpost and seat at the beginning of the walk.