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Satter Hill (Cairn(s))

04/02/2018 - Been over Satter Hill a few times but didn't remember the cairn. Made sure to have a look for it this time. Same route as Drew's. Old maps list it as 'a pile of stones' and it's hard to argue with that. Not much to see but the view and walk was nice. A little rainy first thing but nothing too bad and a very light dusting of snow on top. thelonious Posted by thelonious
4th February 2018ce

Biallidbeg (Cairn(s))

After a good nights refreshment in Kincraig I awoke bright and hazy ready for a good hike. Wee B was in good form so we were taken south and dropped off at Biallidbeg Farmstead on the A86.

We jumped the gate and headed up the small slope then headed north east. This is an area covered in cairns and hut circles, the biggest cairn was our aim. It stands at well over 10m wide and is almost 1m high. The remains of a long robbed cist can be seen in the centre of the cairn. An impressive tree also seems to trying to protect and keep the site warm.

A stunning start to the day with impressive views to the Cairngorms and Strathspey. Also a return visit to this place is needed. Roll on the warmer weather.

Visited 30/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd February 2018ce

Kincraig (Chambered Cairn)

Just before heading into Kincraig for some light refreshment and rest there was time to visit the chamber cairn near the village. From Loch An Eilein car park we took the road back to the B970, a very twisty road indeed through Feshie Bridge until the first minor road heading west. This follows the northern shore of Loch Insh to Kincraig. Head through the village to the B9152 turning north. Take the first subway underneath the A9 and park near the group of small farm buildings, the cairn is a short distance behind. There is plenty room to park.

All that remains of this once massive cairn is the chamber, split into two and the scant outline of its former surroundings. This had been over 17m at some point. Some kerbs still remain.

Canmore's description 'This heavily robbed chambered cairn is situated at the upper limit of improved pasture roughly midway between the newly constructed blacksmith’s shed and a small coniferous plantation, some 425m to the ENE of Kincraig House. The cairn lies on relatively flat ground and appears to have been terraced on the S, with the ground rising gently to the N and W and a tongue of natural outcrop extending out to the SE. Oval on plan, it measures 17m from ENE to WSW by 14.8m transversely, and is defined by three kerb stones on the SW, S and SSE, and another that appears to have fallen outwards on the ENE. On the N and NW the outer edge of the cairn has been reduced to a low stony bank. Loose stones lie across the interior and several large angular blocks are still visible on the SE. The chamber, orientated ENE to WSW, measures 3.2m by 0.9m internally and is divided into two compartments by a low septal slab. The innermost compartment survives as two upright stones on its S side and a back-slab, the latter the tallest of the chamber standing 0.68m in height. Two displaced stones immediately behind these may be capstones or corbels from the roof of the chamber that have slipped backwards. The second compartment comprises a pair of upright stones and another adjacent to that on the N set just outside though not overlapping. A further 0.7m to the E there is another earthfast stone which may also belong to the chamber but now appears to be displaced.'

Just before leaving I looked south towards Newtonmore and Kingussie. The next day would see a lot of miles walked.

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd February 2018ce

Dundee Law (Hillfort)

28/01/2018 - Heading back from Edinburgh to Aberdeen on the train we decided to stop off at Dundee for a walk. We didn’t pick the best of weather days for it. Got off the train just after nine and 10 minutes later the rain started and didn’t really let up for the rest of the walk.

Very quiet Sunday morning streets as we headed first to Balgay Hill. Nice hill with an observatory on top. Don’t think there is anything old here but it look a good place for a bit of megalithic.

Heading east we moved on to Dundee Law. Easy to get a little lost in the streets between the two but nothing too bad. A short climb first through allotments and then steps got us to the top. I guess the views from here are great on a sunny day but today the low cloud and rain put paid to that.

Hard to see if we were looking at any bits of the original fort as we walked around the top. Impressive war memorial and trig there as well.

We headed south back down through the streets to the train station. Overall a nice quiet walk to visit Dundee Law hillfort. Worth going on a clear day just for the views.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
2nd February 2018ce

Edinburgh Castle (Hillfort)

27/01/2018 – After a very windy walk round Arthur’s Seat in the morning we made our way up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle.

Our siege on the castle was quickly halted at the entrance by a very nice woman who informed us that our rucksacks were too big to take in (44L size in case you were wondering, pack small if you visit). With our attack thwarted so quickly we made the slow walk back to where we were staying to regroup.

One hour later we were back. Travelling light we made it past the guard this time and into the castle. Our second assault again came to an abrupt halt. This time by a long snaking chain of people. Quickly realising this might work to our advantage and offer us a way through we joined the queue and tried to blend in. What seemed like hours later (probably nearer 10 minutes) we reached the head and another nice person to deal with. This time we made it past first go though not unscathed, my wallet took a direct hit on the way (£34 for the two of us).

Finally we made it into the main areas, we went into full tourist mode and started taking photos of anything and everything so not to draw attention to ourselves. High point is a little debatable but I liked the rock outside St Margaret’s Chapel though I felt a little silly standing there for the obligatory photo. Views from the castle are wonderful and it’s such a good location with a history that stretches back through the mists of time.

We thought our ruse of acting like tourists had been rumbled when a loud bang nearly gave me a heart attack. A quick scan of the map we had been given informed us it was just the one o’clock gun firing and they do it every day. Relieved we headed further inside and went to look for the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. The security was tight and my belly was starting to rumble so we left empty handed and made for the cafe. Turns out we weren’t the only folk looking to get their hands on plenty of loot, nice food though despite the price.

With happy belly again and all batteries walked we made our way out. I sadly resisted the urge to sit on a cannon for a photo as the oldest person doing so looked about 5 years old and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself (bit rubbish getting old, I should care less what people think but I like to stay hidden in life).

Yes it's a bit of a dear do to enter and nothing megalithic to look but there’s a wonderful sense of a continuing history to the place as you walk around. It’s well worth a visit.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
1st February 2018ce

Creagan Ruighe Dhughaill (Cairn(s))

Just to the south east of Creag A Chait over some treacherous underfoot conditions is another large cairn. The site at Creagan Ruighe Dhughaill is in a small glen which blocks the view of Loch Gamhna. Views of Loch An Eilein can just about be glimpsed through the trees.

Some large blocks are near this cairn making it relatively easy to find. A small ditch can just about be seen surrounding the site. It is an odd shape for this area being rectangular, 11m by 7m sitting at 1m high amongst some trees. Just like the nearby Chait the scenery of the mountains is spectacular.

After a good look round it was back to the shores of Loch An Eilein via the southern shore of Loch Gamhna, sadly the crannog was covered in water so, happily, another trip needed. The path back to the car park on the southern shore is varied to say the least. Sometimes good, sometimes terrible and sometimes invisible.

Still its a good way to explore which is what we spent the day doing for a few hours before heading to the cairn at Kincraig.

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
1st February 2018ce

Creag A' Chait (Cairn(s))

On a cold misty but dry morning we started walking from the car park at Loch An Eilein Gate. To reach here take the B9152 from Coylum Bridge/Inverdruie (great name) and head south. Take the first minor road heading south east that ends at the car park.

Follow the track south to the beautiful shores of Loch an Eilein, which was mirror calm, with its medieval castle still standing proudly. Keep going until a junction in the track near Loch An Eilein's south west shore. We headed or attempted to head straight south. This short cut ended up being the longest route as we climbed over Kennapole Hill, which provided stunning views of the snow covered surrounding mountains. Eventually after a few bumps and scrapes we found the site. A difficult place to reach.

The large cairn, being over 20m wide, is covered in heather but glimpses of turf reveal cairn material. Several large stones also surround the site well hidden amongst the vegetation. Only when standing well back can the height of the cairn be seen, it is well over 2m in height. To the east is Loch Gamhna obscured by a small hill. To the north the southern shores of Loch An Eilein and the snow covered Ord Ban.

A beautiful place!

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
30th January 2018ce

Delfour (Clava Cairn)

Totally agree with G, G and Vicster. This is a fantastic site with fantastic views. Sadly, on this visit, bits of farm waste was dotted about the site. I tidied up what I could by throwing it over the fence into a field with more rubbish in it.


Take the B9152 from Coylum Bridge and head south. When the Alvie Gate Lodge is reached head west under the first subway. If coming north from Kincraig its the second subway. Follow the signposts to Easter Delfour, which will lead straight to the site.

Handy thing these subways!

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
26th January 2018ce

Creag Mheadhonach (Cairn(s))

From the Milton cairn head uphill, this is very steep in places, in a southish direction. We forced our way through bogs, trees, scattered rocks, holes and streams. Somehow major injury was avoided and we finally found the cairn. Near the top there is the remains of a small loch, the cairn is on the south west side on a slight uphill.

Nothing much remains just a small mound around 6m wide being no more 0.5m high. The cist stone can be felt underfoot as can other stones. Sadly almost impossible to photograph. The views on the other hand are tremendous looking down on the Spey Valley. Cairns to the east have gone thanks to forestry.

On our way down, meaning straight down, we took an interesting route almost copying the Dun Dearduil uphill route. We headed west looking for a track which we eventually found. Once back into the trees the climb down is very steep, on a couple of a occasions I used my backside to get down some of the way. Some deer passing nearby obviously had a good laugh at my antics. At the bottom is the Milton burn which this time was waded and jumped. From there it is a fairly gentle climb to the track. We had every intention of heading to a nearby dun but the weather was closing in, therefore Delfour entered the agenda.

Love this area, the dun will be found when the snow goes.

drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
26th January 2018ce

Clune Wood (Ring Cairn)

Visited: January 20, 2018

I have visited Clune Hill and its Recumbent Stone Circle more times than I can remember over the years. When time is limited, the forest walks surrounding this site provide atmospheric short excursions. But what seems to have escaped the notice of most contributors to TMA is the ring cairn immediately adjacent to the east of the RSC. A couple of photographs of the cairn do appear on the RSC page, but surprisingly, this site has hitherto received no fieldnote.

Clune Hill Ring Cairn extends some ten metres in width and rises to around ¾ metre in height, but because of the uneven nature of the terrain here—covered with tussocks of grass and heathery hummocks, not to mention the ever-encroaching bracken—only the neat central chamber catches the eye: the edges of the cairn are ill-defined and there is no outer kerb to be seen.

There is a fine image from 'Greywether' which shows the central chamber of the Ring Cairn in 2005 when it appeared to have recently been cleared of vegetation.

This chamber, largely overgrown by heather and bracken, particularly during the summer months, has been built of irregular, rounded stones, which are particularly prominent in the northeast quadrant. The almost continuous kerb consists of graded boulders which increase in size and height towards the southwest: the tallest kerbstone, at 0.8 metres in height, stands on the SSW and the smallest on the NE. There is a gap in the kerb towards its south, about three metres from the nearest stone of the RSC (orthostat No 4), but Aberdeenshire Council's website describes the ring cairn as 'incomplete', and states that there is no evidence for a passage leading to the cairn edge.
LesHamilton Posted by LesHamilton
24th January 2018ce

Dumbarrow Hill (Stone Fort / Dun)

Dumbarrow provided its builders with three sides of natural defences. The north side is very steep and during our visit being attacked by marauding sheep, the south slightly less steep and the west, once again slightly less steep. The west also appears to have an entrance not noted by Canmore. However the main entrance is in the east with facing stones clearly marking the doorway. Once again I disagree with Canmore. I think the east had defences natural or man made. The farmer at nearby Dumbarrow Farm confirmed that many dry stane dykes in the area had been built from stones from the dun and nearby long gone cairns.

One thing that cannot be disputed is the impressive views in all areas especially the snow covered mountains to the west glistening in the distance. Myths of King Nechtan (see folklore) and famous battles surround this area. Certainly at the time when we visited, fast approaching darkness, the dun had an atmosphere of otherworldliness.

From Friockheim we headed south on the A933, then the B961 west, take the minor road north west at the first crossroads, go over Dumbarrow bridge, past Dumbarrow Farm and take the road north east to Hillkirk. We were given permission by the farmer to park who told us about the destruction of nearby cairns and the removal of stones during the 1800s. The dun, in its wonderful location, is to the north east of the farm buildings.

Visited 28/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
23rd January 2018ce

Red Hill (Cist)

20/01/2018 – It had been over ten years since our last visit to Benaquhallie. Don’t know why really, it’s just a short drive away from where we live and it’s a nice quiet walk with good views. High chance of avoiding humans all day as well which is always a good thing. Guessing most folk start from the south but to make more of a day of it we started near Tillyfourie, to the north. Good parking at the start of the forest track (NJ 6390 1262).

Main point of the day was to revisit Benaquhallie via Red Hill (couldn’t really remember if I’d been there last time). The night before I’d had a look on the internet and found two cairns marked on the old OS maps. One just south of the trigpoint on Benaquhallie at NJ 6070 0859 and the other to the north in Culthibert Wood (NJ 6217 1122). Aberdeenshire SMR also had two possible cist burials on Red Hill at NJ 6182 0999 and NJ 6194 1003. So the day was planned - Tillyfouire to Benaquhallie via Red Hill and back, with a look at two cairns to see if they might be old and two possible cists. Sounded good to me.

Very cold start to the day, 6 below and it never made it back up to 0. Easy walking along the track to its highest point (NJ 6255 1028) where we left it to head SW to Red Hill. The trees had been felled since our last visit so the views were great on this cold, clear and sunny day.

Finding the cists was a little tricky as the heather is deep here. First one (NJ 6194 1003) all we could find was a single stone. It could have been anything and nothing. Second one (at NJ 6182 0999) was much better and really looked like a small cist to me.

We walked on to the cairn near the trigpoint for a brew and a bite to eat. It’s a large modern cairn and although there is a hint of a bigger footprint, my guess would be not old.

Heading back we skirted round the south side of Red Hill and then headed back the way we came. Nice views down to Old Kirk of Tough stone circle from here.

Back along the track through Culthibert Wood we took a detour off to see the cairn at NJ 6217 1122. Very small lose pile of stones. Though it’s been there a few hundred years, my guess is it’s not much older than that.

It had been a good day out (apart from a blister on my foot, which was annoying as I never get blisters). Fine hill and an interesting walk. The cist looked good to me, if a little worse for wear and it was good fun trying to find.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
21st January 2018ce

Bruce's Camp (Hillfort)

13/01/2018 - Earlyish start, least it felt like it as the lazy sun is still having a bit of a lie in at this time of year (I can't wait for the longer days). We started from Port Elphinstone and walked the Old Kemnay Road which is a nice beech tree lined track nowadays. Good views down to the River Don and Bennachie in the distance along here.

The track took us to Duncan's Forest and then we made a similar climb to Drew's, up to Bruce's Camp. No problems really access wise, it's pretty open woodland to the top.

In fact everything was going OK until near the top when about 30 seconds after mentioning Drew's fence problem from his fieldnotes to Mrs T, Bruce’s Camp decided to claim another TMAer. All I will say is that there was barbed wire and blood! There’s a curse on this hill, I tell ye.

We did make it to the top which is a nice open area. The ramparts are pretty overgrown.

I forget to look for the cup marked rock which is a little annoying. I’ll have to go back sometime which is OK as it was a nice walk.
thelonious Posted by thelonious
13th January 2018ce

Lansdown Barrows (Round Barrow(s))

Visited yesterday. The larger barrow is extremely overgrown with brambles and several small trees. It is difficult to see where it begins, but I would estimate around 30-40 feet in diameter. At the centre it reaches a height of 5-6 feet. I remember it being a much more impressive feature a couple of decades ago, very visible from the road when driving past, before it became as scrubbed over as it is now.

There is a drawing of this barrow from 1783 on the British Library website, just behind Rose Cottage with a large ash tree growing on it.

The tree is also visible on the Harcourt Masters Turnpike map of 1786/7, where mound is shown as a very prominent feature. The other two barrows are not shown on the map.

The largest of the confluent round barrows in the field is around 3 feet in height, the smaller one to the NW is around 2 feet.

The field is marked on the 1841 tithe map as 'Fair Close', presumably this was where the Lansdown Fair was held.
Posted by swallowhead
11th January 2018ce

Cairn Knap (Cairn(s))

After taking our time and absorbing the wonderful cairn and views at Guthrie Hill we moved on further south near to the small town of Friockheim. We parked at the towns cemetery and walked south on a decent track into Friock Wood. Follow the track to the southern border of the wood, the cairn is in the middle of the field. Easy to get to with no climbs and no fences.

The cairn is surrounded by a dry stane dyke, which sadly, has fallen a little on the north west. This allows access to the cairn. Like Guthrie it has taken a battering, unlike Guthrie it has managed to retain its shape. Described by some as a round cairn it has been quarried, houked and excavated but still remains 30m wide and 3m high. The excavations also show quite a lot of cairn material allowing us to see how the site was built. It also revealed two cists that contained human bones.

Trees have also fallen giving an extra sense of age. It is good that even in an agricultural area sites like this still survive. Excellent place!!

Visited 28/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
6th January 2018ce

Milton (Cairn(s))

This cairn has seen some very severe treatment but it still hangs on which is something of a miracle. Nothing but the outer edge can be seen over 12m wide. The outer edge itself is almost 2m wide and is no more that 0.2m high. However it does almost surround the site. A scatter of cairn material also remains. Nothing remains of the cist except perhaps one large stone. The poor cairn was almost completely houked out. Strange now that forestry now protects it.

Getting here is a challenge, a good adventure. We parked near the Pityoulish Standing Stone and walked up the track heading uphill and south east past several cottages. The distance maybe short but this did take into account valleys and small rivers. At the first big corner in the track (once in the wood) head down towards the Milton Burn, A waded across, B jumped (being a dog very easy) and I skilfully clambered across a fallen tree. Head uphill until a fence, climb over and head north east. The cairn is in a small clearing with a tree in its middle.

Despite it having a nightmare of a time this place has a good vibe. Getting to it was easy compared to what was to come.

Visited 23/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
4th January 2018ce

Pityoulish (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Directions are obviously the same with the exception that the stone can be much seen much more easily. It now has guards (3 of them) of honour, the remnants of Pityoulish Woods.

Cheers Strathie.

Re-visited 23/12/2016.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2018ce

Creag Garten (Hillfort)

Creag Garten has always been high on my list of places to see being situated in one of my favourite areas looking south on to the Cairngorms.

We parked, nice chap the farmer who allowed us to park and gave us directions, at the Gartenbeg Farm. From there we headed north to some old sheds near a brand new gate which gained us entry to the Deishar Wood/Gartenbeg Plantation without jumping any fences. From here we headed north west and cross country to the top of the hill. Creag Garten has impressive northern defences, a sheer drop. It would have had impressive views north and south, and will again when the trees are chopped down. Sadly most of the walls have fallen, however entrances can be seen to the east, with 2 entrances on the west.

According to Canmore the fort is D shaped, presumably the shape of the wee hill its on. It measures 20m by 15m.

A fine way to start another hike in the Highlands.

Visited 23/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2018ce

Guthrie Hill (Cairn(s))

What a wonderful place Guthrie Hill is with wonderful all round views with beautiful winter weather to match. Despite the obvious fact that the cairn has taken a severe battering it is an impressive place.

We headed east on the B9113 before heading south on the fourth minor road, signposted Guthrie. Parking just to the south of the Hilton Of Guthrie (farm) we headed south west and uphill to the top of Guthrie Hill. Situated at the top is the well damaged cairn. It was nice to see that the trig was placed a short distance downhill (to the east).

What remains is a site over 20m width and is just over 1m high (south) tapering to 0.3m (north). Some stones can be seen in the south. It is also nice to say that the farmer seems to be keeping well clear of the site. Long may he/she do so!

Great way to start a wee visit to Angus on the way down to Dundee.

Visited 28/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2018ce

Auchlee (Ring Cairn)

I walked from the re-constructed cairn at Cairnwell, Badentoy Industrial Estate back down onto the verge of the A90 heading south to the Cairnwell junction. From here I headed west to Auchlee Farm. Having had a couple of dealings with farmer before I was glad that I jumped the fence just before the farm and headed north towards the cairn which is as Les describes.

From there I headed up to the Boswell Monument to look for more smaller cairns. Sadly most of these seem to have been tree ploughed out. I kept heading west until I could see the junction of two minor roads. Sadly for me before I reached the road I managed to jump straight into a ditch, waist high, near the road.

It was a very long squelchy walk back to the car. Not helping much, it started to get frosty. Still, back in one bit, change of clothes, all good fun.

Visited 14/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2018ce

Market Knowe (Cairn(s))

As Old Sweetie says there is conjecture about what type of cairn this, I'll go for a well battered Wessex Cairn surrounded by a ditch. Stones can be felt and seen in this cairn. A good time of year to go as I'd imagine this site would have a fair covering of brambles making any description difficult.

Early tourists from Italy appear to have been in the area as the site is locally known as Roman Knowe. In their day this would have been an impressive monument, it still is being over 30m wide, 2m high and a ditch averaging between 2 and 4m wide surrounds. Now it is mainly grass covered but cairn material can be seen.

From the wee village of Knapp head south east taking the second minor road heading straight east. The Falcon Stone can be seen in the field to the south. Follow this road to the junction and take the road south taking the first road east. Car parking is available at the Huntly Wood car park. From here walk east as the cairn is in Huntly Wood, behind a row of houses.

A nice and easy way to end the day.

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
3rd January 2018ce

Dron Hill (Sacred Hill)

Not wanting to upset MatTheCat but he did somewhat achieve a miracle by not taking any pictures of the ramparts on this hill. It is most definitely a hillfort. What it was used for is another question though. Sacred possibly, special definitely.

A triple set of ramparts, especially on the west, used to stand here but they have all sadly been much reduced in size. However the outer rampart does manage to encircle the top of the hill. Entrances, and they still have facing stones, are on the east and west sides.

This is a truly fantastic site with superb views south to all of the Fife Forts (on a clear day) and Dundee Law. Adding to atmosphere, for my visit, driving snow, wind and low clouds which made the fort even more life like as it appeared the clouds were surrounding us. (that might have been the previous nights exploits talking!)

We parked at Dron Farm, near the remnants of a church, and walked south back to the junction of two roads. Head west on a farm track and keep going until the track ends. Through the gate and jump a fence then climb to the top of the hill. You will have walked straight into the fort.

Fantastic place, fantastic hillfort and added snow making it all very wintery.

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
2nd January 2018ce

Pen y Foel Goch (Cairn(s))

Should the somewhat more adventurous visitors to Ceredigion happen - whether by chance or design - to arrive at the hamlet of Ponterwyd, astride the A44, with a desire to head north... I dare say that, upon pondering awhile (as you do) they may well be tempted to emulate the locals and take the single track 'short cut' across Pumlumon in lieu of the looping, coastal route via Aberystwyth. And why not, since, although by no means endless, the possibilities that will present themselves are nonetheless multiplex, albeit at the mercy of the not infrequently inclement weather? Particularly for a traveller with a megalithically calibrated mind and/or an eye for an inspiring landscape: one, even today, still infused with legend; that subliminal, pseudo-metaphysical condiment forever seasoning the human story. For this is the land of Glyndwr and Taliesin, where almost every summit is crowned by a Bronze Age cairn, as if echoes of mighty deeds literally turned to stone upon the Medusa's searing gaze. Ah, if only these mountains could talk, what tales would they tell, eh? Well, perhaps all is not lost in the mists of time, for listen carefully and Pumlumon really does speak for itself: the 'piping' call of the soaring Red Kite; the cacophony of the nascent Hafren (Severn, Britain's longest river), Wye and Rheidol as they cascade from their lofty sources upon the main ridge following heavy rain; the wind audible in ubiquitous long grass concealing wetlands which once ensured Henry II's knights floundered to their doom...

But what of the green foothills which sweep northward toward Dyffryn Dyfi from Nant-y-Moch, fleetingly glimpsed upon traversing our aforementioned minor road? Surely but a minor diversion before entering the domain of Idris and, on.. er.. somewhat firmer historical ground, Vortigen, Owain Gwynedd and Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, not to mention Edward Longshanks himself? The answer to that is, in every respect, a resounding 'NO'. Firstly, access to the area is far from straightforward, it being necessary to negotiate the descent of Cwm Ceulan to Tal-y-Bont and approach via very minor roads exiting the A487 to the north; secondly, there is simply so much to see... from one of Wales' premier waterfalls (Pistyll y Llyn), Moel y Llyn (with it's very own 'lady of the lake' tale, to Cwm Einion. Ah exquisite Cwm Einion, perhaps better known to the occasional tourist as 'Artist's Valley' owing to formative visits from one JMW Turner and, much more recently, home to a certain Mr Plant who (apparently) was inspired to write 'Stairway to Heaven' here with some other bloke amongst the ancient tilio-acerion native woodland. Furthermore, with almost every hill top once again crowned by a Bronze Age cairn, stone circle or chambered cairn, the Citizen Cairn'd must really take notice...

Which brings me, eventually, to Foel Goch, a seemingly minor coastal hill overlooking the Afon Dyfi as it nears the end of its short journey to the sea from Creiglyn Dyfi, the latter cradled beneath the mighty crags of Aran Fawddwy. I say 'eventually' because I make a farce of the initial approach by car... losing my nerve as I pass Bedd Taliesin and backtracking to the A487 to finally park up, rather sheepishly (appropriately enough in these parts) in a farmyard east of Tre'r-ddol, at Llety-lwydin, Cwm Cletwr, to my mind the only feasible option. Now on foot, the road descends very sharply from here to a T-junction, the right hand selection arriving in due course at a habitation on the left overflowing with free range chickens and other creatures pleasing to the senses. A public footpath sets off to the east ranging above the northern bank of the Afon Clettwr, the initial lush, green pasture giving way to a more coarse, upland domain. That'll be Foel Goch, then.

As usual I haven't done my homework - note to self: don't... it's far more interesting this way - so, having found the 'Cairns' depicted upon my map here, upon the southern flank of the hill/mini mountain, to be less than convincing, I head for the obvious, large cairn crowning the skyline to the north-east. Clearly this must be Pen y Foel Goch. Except, of course, it's nothing of the sort, being in actual fact Carn Wen, a little below and to the west of the summit monument at SN68979274. According to RCAHMW (Dave Leighton, 30/7/12) this, one of numerous 'White Cairns' to be found in Wales measures "13m (N-S) by 17m (E-W), its shape distorted by slippage of material down steep west side of the summit; height 1m-2m." Yeah, it's a pretty substantial cairn... but the compelling reason to come here is the location which, to these eyes, is extraordinary for the relative low altitude. It really is. The stunning Dyffryn Dyfi, its river meandering to its all-inclusive conclusion, takes centre stage... but there is much more: the brooding, central ridge of Pumlumon surmounting the horizon to the south-east, Cadair Idris - with the seriously be-cairned, tautological Tarren Hills to its left - soaring sentinel to the approx north. Things (arguably) get even more interesting nearer to hand, initially just across the Afon Clettwr at Caer Arglwyddes, 'The Lady's Field', where there are a number of cairns, one with impressive cist still in situ visited back in 2012. But why 'The Lady's Field'? Well, according to Dr Gwilym Morus ( "All became clear when I had a conversation with an old lady who’s father had been born at Cae’r Arglwyddes, and according to her the name of the farm refers to a ‘lady of the lake’ folktale about the small lake up on Moel-y-llyn". Things begin to fall into place... since Moel y Llyn, rising due south-east of Carn Wen, possesses a quartet of cairns in addition to its legendary feminine bathing facility.

A short, yet sweet scramble brings me finally to Pen y Foel Goch, featuring a further substantial cairn at SN69519285, that is a little to the approx north-west of the actual summit. Again according to Dave Leighton, this "measures some 10m across, allowing for distortion caused by slippage of material down the steeper west side. Robbing has left the eastern perimeter of the cairn as a grassy ring, its height 0.3m". If anything, the vista to be enjoyed from this monument is even more impressive/expansive than from its neighbour below to the west. The fundamental difference, I guess, is the sight of yet another cairn, upon Cerrig Blaencletwr-Fawr (aka Esgair Foel-ddu) just under a mile distant to the east, beckoning the footsore modern antiquarian onward with its silent siren call. Nevertheless, what with a significant height loss to contend with - all too often the tired hill walker's nemesis - I immediately give up any notion of an attempt today as falling within the 'so near, yet so far' category... only to find my impetuosity, if not curiosity, has decided otherwise and launched me half way down the slope before counter-revolutionary reason can react. Ha! Emotion over reason? Right on!

The intervening terrain is rough, trackless, featuring areas of severe bog. Standard practice for Pumlumon, to be fair. However the cairn is worth the not inconsiderable effort and is again exquisitely sited, this time gazing down into the equally compelling Cwm Einion at SN70779256. Now I've no idea whether Mr Turner made a foray up here - to this very spot - to be similarly entranced by the ever-changing light playing upon the legendary Moel y Llyn to immediate south-east. I doubt it. Hey, perhaps Timothy Spall might know? But if he did, it would explain a lot, methinks... for his work invokes, nay encapsulates the vibe I feel at places such as this. Mr Leighton reckons the much more mundane technical specifics are "11m NE-SW by 9.0m & 0.9m high". Unlike both Foel Goch's cairns Cerrig Blaencletwr-Fawr's monument has unfortunately been defaced, given a hollow centre. The reasoning behind this is even more obscure than the usual 'built by ignorant muppets' since, clearly, no such fool has taken shelter here in a very, very long time, to judge by the presence of a tenacious tree of indeterminate (to me) type occupying the space. Now that, together with the other 'Plant' life formerly found within The Artist's Valley, I can live with. Way to go, my woody stemmed friend! As if to mark the moment.. a rainbow arcs across the valley. Time to leave. Since it is a long way back... and who knows what other legendary idiosyncrasies these unassuming northern 'foot hills' of Pumlumon have up their collective 'sleeves' to bestow upon unsuspecting punters after dark? Hey, perhaps some of the more artistic people associated with this magical area were brave enough to find out? Perhaps.
31st December 2017ce
Edited 3rd January 2018ce

Hill Of Dores (Hillfort)

Hill Of Dores is a hillfort associated with Macbeth and a castle. The castle apparently never existed, the hillfort most certainly does.

From Dronley we headed west back onto the A923 and made our way to the car park near the bottom of Dores Hill. It is also the car park for the Laird's Loch fishery. By this time the weather had completely changed.

With snow getting heavier and heavier we made our way along the track to the fishery. Just as we neared the end of the track we headed uphill through the trees to summit, which houses the fort.

On three sides there are steep slopes but we approached from the west which, fairly difficult because of the trees, is less steep. The massive fort is almost 100m in length and well over 50m wide being oval shaped. A lot of the rampart has been destroyed but the forestry people have marked the ramparts by leaving parts of tree trunk giving an idea of a wooden palisade. Good idea this!

With the snow getting heavier we made our way back down, still heading south west but via a different route taking us back onto the A923 about a 1/2 mile west of the car park.

It is no secret that I love the snow. Along with heavy cloud the snow gives a different otherworldly atmosphere. Fortunately Macbeth did not appear.

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
31st December 2017ce

Dronley House (Artificial Mound)

To the south west corner of Dronley House Wood there is a very large artificial mound measuring almost 30, wide and 3m high. Unfortunately it has received the normal houking but it still retains its shape. It is completely covered in turf. Some people still use it, offerings of holly and flowers have been attached to the branches of the trees.

In the middle of Birkhill, on the A923, take the minor road heading north. Keep going north over the split crossroads until the first wood. The mound can be seen from the road to the east.

Nice easy start to the day.

Visited 29/12/2017.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
31st December 2017ce
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