|The cluster of monuments in the vicinity of Nash Point do not advertise - or, it would appear, endear themselves to the casual visitor. This is a pity since it would seem, to gauge by the capacity of the car park at least, that there are often quite a few of the latter, particularly so during the summer months. In the absence of an information board - always handy in such popular areas, I find - it is debatable whether more that the proverbial handful have any idea that here, just a few miles from the great urban sprawl of Bridgend, can be found much of what makes the Glamorgan coastline so intoxicating to these eyes. But hey, great place to walk the dog, though....
Some may argue that a day of low cloud, drizzle and high winds may not be the most salubrious of days to go walkabout in South Wales. Maybe. However head for the coast, stick on the waterproofs... and I would suggest there is a strong case for these being precisely the optimum conditions to truly 'experience' this coastline in all its wild abandon. As with Carl, there is no need to pay the £1.50 toll to traverse the private road heading south west from Macross to the car park today. Simple things, as they say.
So, suitably 'tooled up', I literally immerse myself in the ineluctable weather and head for the first monument, Cae'r Eglwys, a little way up the road towards the lighthouse at SS91666825, that is to the right. I guess I need to point out that the 'earthwork', as marked on the 1:25k OS map, is not a certain long cairn. However Coflein appear pretty confident, and it does seem pretty difficult to explain otherwise. Unfortunately ignorance of its (assumed) function has not served Cae'r Eglwys well within this community, the grassy long mound being covered in dog excrement, coke cairns and assorted rubbish. In short, it is a disgrace, even for South Wales. A ghostly chiming of bells appears to emanate from the sea and, recalling the association with a 'church' on the site (hence the name, of course), I doubt my senses for a moment. No, it's definitely church bells! Oo-eer... But more of this later.
I head north-west towards the defile cut by the Marcross Brook, the serried strata of the crags of Castell y Dryw truly a natural wonder worth the price of admission alone (assuming you have to pay one, that is), despite the litter-despoiled environs of the water course. Hey, you mean people actually lived up there? Nah, surely not. The obvious way up is.... er, straight 'up' the eroded, steep left flank. However Carl's bridge is already long gone and the water difficult to cross, the far bank treacherous in these conditions. In retrospect I'd therefore recommend heading right up the valley and ascending the far (right hand) flank of the site. Whichever way you do it, make sure you do, since this apparently minor, obscure enclosure occupying the summit of the ridge is defended by four - I concur with Carl, count 'em - very powerful cross ramparts to the north. I'm utterly unprepared for this, I have to confess. There's also a single bank - at least partially - defending the eastern flank. Jeez. Where have you been all my life, Nash Point? Oh, here.
But mankind's puny defensive efforts pale into insignificance when I'm confronted with the glorious, lethal - bloody awe inspiring - mess Nature's made of the western and southern flanks of this former fortress, crumbling cliff lines falling sheer to rocky pavements pounded by crashing breakers. Ha! The vertigo kicks in and I may as well be upon Crib Coch or The Cuillin... one false step in these conditions will mean death. Suffice to say this is not a place for children, then. As I head toward the southern apex of Castell y Dryw, the linear enclosure not very wide at all, it has to be said (although possibly much reduced through erosion to the east?), I again hear the ethereal peel of bells coming from the Bristol Channel. Contrary to some opinion, though, it seems I'm not mad after all. Yeah, the aforementioned rock pavements hold the key to this mystery, a bell clanging away eerily upon an offshore bhoy (hopefully) warning any nearby ships to take immediate, violent evasive action. What a swizz! Needless to say said bhoy was red, not green and white....
Moving north beyond the impressive defences and crossing a stone stile, I follow the cliff-line approx north-north-west and, upon passing through a second drystone wall, follow the field edge inland. Well, I couldn't exactly head in the other direction, could I? A farm track is encountered running at a tangent with two reasonably preserved round barrows lying beside it to the left. OK, perhaps 'reasonably' is overdoing it a bit generally, but not in this part of the world. To the right of the field wall the OS map shows another, larger 'tumulus'. Unfortunately this is the monument Carl rightly describes as being more or less no more.... an almost imperceptible rise in a soggy field. However at this moment a bank of sea mist sweeps in to engulf all in clammy vapour, thus rendering the landscape as ethereal and thought-provoking as many other more extreme sites I've visited.
Nash Point. Litter strewn, uncared for? Yes. But mind blowing in the right conditions? You'd better believe it. Neolithic (probably), Bronze Age and Iron Age. Take your pick....
Posted by GLADMAN
6th March 2012ce
Edited 8th March 2012ce