Pennant Melangell Pilgrimage

St Melangell’s, one of Wales’s ‘Hundred Best Churches’, lies in a remote and beautiful spot at the head of the Tanat Valley. It is set in a circular churchyard, possibly once a Bronze Age burial site, ringed by some of the country’s finest ancient yews which may also predate the Christian era.

The first church on the site is said to have been founded in the 7th Century by Melangell, the daughter of an Irish king, who dwelt here as a hermit. One day the Prince of Powys came hunting, and a hare took refuge under Melangell’s cloak. The Prince’s dogs fled howling and, deeply impressed, he gave her the valley as a sanctuary. Ever since Pennant Melangell has been a place of pilgrimage, and Melangell remains the patron saint of hares.

There has been a Christian Church here for over 1200 years. Its setting, in a place of great beauty deep in the Berwyn Mountains, is peaceful and unspoilt. Parts of the building date from the 12th Century.
In 1987, the church was in such a poor state that repair was impossible and a full-scale restoration was necessary if it was to be saved. This work was begun in 1988 and was completed in 1992.

The church contains a fine 15th Century oak screen with carvings that tell the story of Melangell and Prince Brochwel. There are also two medieval effigies, one of which is thought to represent the saint; a Norman font, a Georgian pulpit, chandelier and commandment board, a series of stone carvings of the hare by the sculptor Meical Watts, and the mysterious Giant’s Rib.

The church’s greatest treasure is the 12th Century shrine of Saint Melangell. This was dismantled after the Reformation and its stones, carved with a strange blend of Romanesque and Celtic motifs, were built into the walls of the church and lych-gate. They were reassembled in the last century and have now been re-erected in the chancel. It is unparalleled in Northern Europe and is visited by pilgrims from all over Britain and beyond.

Nearby is the St Melangell Centre, a Christian Centre for counselling, reflection and pastoral care.


Pennant Melangell,
SY10 0HQ

Tel: 01691 860408

Getting There

Pennant Melangell lies at the head of the Tanat Valley: it is accessible from the B4391 at Llangynog along a single-track road with occasional passing places. The road is suitable for cars but too narrow for a standard bus or coach to negotiate. For parties it is best to leave large vehicles in the main car park in Llangynog (where there are public toilets), and either walk up the valley or hire a minibus. (Tanat Valley Motors 01691 780212/780241). There is a small car park at St Melangell’s Church: it is difficult to turn a vehicle beyond this point.

Those on foot can walk up the lane from the village. To avoid the last mile or so of road, take a public footpath signposted to the right just beyond Vicarage Farm, which climbs up to Llechwedd-y-Garth before descending to the church. Suitable footwear is needed, but the views are memorable. The waterfall at the head of the valley, Pistyll Blaen-y-Cwm, can be reached via another, steeper path, which leaves the road on the right about 300 yards beyond the church and leads up into open country: the landowner has indicated a route. 


The Shrine Church is open from 8.30 a.m.-6.00 p.m. daily during British Summer Time, but closes at 4.00 p.m. after the clocks change in October. There is disabled access to the Church and Centre.


  • 8.30am Monday, Thursday & Friday: Morning Prayer with Intercessions
  • 12 noon: Midday Office Mondays, and first 2 Fridays of the month
  • 12 noon Thursdays: Holy Eucharist. The laying on of hands with prayer for healing is offered at this service.
  • 4.00 p.m. Evening Prayer (from the end of October to Easter)
  • 5.30 p.m. Evening Prayer (during British Summer Time) Monday, Thursday and the first two Fridays of the month

(There is a tradition of serving tea and cake at the Centre following the Sunday afternoon service.)

Other services by arrangement with the Guardian of the Shrine


Groups of pilgrims from all denominations and from all over the world come to Pennant Melangell. Visits are often arranged during the week by churches, chapels or other organisations who may ask for their members to attend one of the regular Daily Offices in St Melangell’s Church, or alternatively a special service. Guided visits and talks on the history of the church can also be requested. Groups normally use the facilities of the Saint Melangell Centre, close to the church, where there is a small meeting room which is available for discussions as well as for refreshments. The garden can also be used, weather permitting. The Centre has a level access disabled toilet. 

To discuss a pilgrimage or group visit to the Church, or for further information, please contact the Centre Co-ordinator.

On Sundays between Easter and October groups are very welcome to attend the afternoon service at 3.00 p.m., with tea and cake served afterwards in the Centre or garden: it is helpful if larger parties can call in advance.

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