Newport / Carningli



Newport / Carningli

Distance - 3.5  Miles
Duration - 2 hours

The town's Welsh name, Trefdraeth, translates as Beach Town but Newport actually boasts two beaches that are separated by the River Nevern. Founded as Novus Burgus around 1200 by the Norman Lord of Cemaes, the street layout sticks closely to the grid pattern of the Norman new town and the castle remains the main landmark of the town.

The walk starts from the town centre where there are several shops and pubs. The trail runs past the castle which was built by the Norman founder of the town, William FitzMartin. It was a large stone building with a moat, but had fallen into disrepair by the 16th century and remained a ruin for nearly 300 years. Renovated in 1859, its gatehouse was converted to form a home which is still inhabited today. The castle is not open to the public. Another fine building is St Mary's Church which was also founded by William FitzMartin. Most of the church dates from the 19th century but the tower is part of the original structure.

Some Norman new towns prospered, others failed. Newport was modestly successful, becoming a trading and shipbuilding community. From the 16th century until the railways killed much of the coastal trade, goods like wool, slate and herrings were exported from warehouses at The Parrog.

Steeper terrain is encountered as Mynydd Carningli is approached. 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 Preseli 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.

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