|There’s a handily placed (and free) carpark next to the picturesque Llynnau Cregennen. From here the hillfort takes on a daunting aspect, what Postie describes as a mini-Matterhorn. An obvious path winds up from the lakeshore, looking like a fairly straightforward ascent. And so it turns out to be, although steep enough to leave me puffing and panting as we get near to the summit ridge. The views are lovely, the twin lakes below us and the Mawddach estuary away to the west, crossed by its neat rail/foot bridge. The higher we climb the more we find ourselves entering the drizzly mist that clings to the much higher ground of the Cadair massif to our south. A choice of paths, little more than sheep tracks takes us up to the top of the ridge. The name of this hilltop, “the Wall of the Long Ridge” I think it translates roughly as, is certainly apt. There is little to show in the way of a fort, even the interior space is cramped and rocky. I get the impression this would a place of desperate refuge, somewhere to make a last stand after abandoning homesteads and farmland in the fertile valleys below.
For all its wild desolation, there is a compelling grandeur, even in the wind-lashed rain that prevents photography in most directions. The views on all sides are stunning, from the mountains, past lakes to the still-shining sea. To the east, serried ranks of lower hills, including Craig y Castell where we were earlier, march away into the gloom. The ground drops away vertiginously over slick black rocks.
We have a good nose about the interior, but at this western end of the ridge there are no signs of any ramparts. Postie suggests we make for the next mini-summit eastwards, for a retrospective of the fort. The path now takes us along a gully between rocky walls, slightly odd but at least sheltered from the rain and wind. Emerging from the other end we realise that we haven’t left the fort at all, as in front of us is the first tangible proof of manmade defences. A clear rampart of rubble cuts across the neck of the hill, with a gap in the centre, now partially choked with collapsed stones, indicating the (presumably) original entrance. Rather better than we had been expecting!
We decide to carry on eastwards along the ridge, as there is a cairn and hut circle shown on the map to look for below the hill’s slopes. As we turn away from the rampart, we are rewarded with a spectacular rainbow arcing over the eastern end of the hill, its pot of gold ending somewhere below us. A breathtaking display of nature. She comes in colours, indeed.
A final climb up to another mini-summit (this ridge sure ain’t level) gives us yet another perfect retrospective, the hill behind now a near-black mass before the bleached-out seaboard beyond.
We finally make our way down, as the clouds are lifting and the slopes below are lit up, revealing what appears to be the patterns of a small field system, very like the “British” fields you find in rural Cornwall. As we descend, we also come across the ruins of a circular structure, which could easily be a hut circle, or maybe it’s just a sheepfold. Neither of us can say for sure. There is no clear path down, or at least if there is we’re not on it, instead it’s a matter of cutting through knee-deep heather while trying not to fall flat over the slippery rock hidden beneath. I’m tired by the time I get to the bottom!
Posted by thesweetcheat
7th March 2012ce
Edited 9th March 2012ce