|Now it may appear somewhat obsequent for what is surely the most substantial stone circle to still grace this land of Wales (in the absence of more than the pair at Brwyn Gwyn) to not be the primary focus of any trip upon the rocky headland of Penmaenmawr, overlooking what today is actually an unfeasibly blue Conwy Bay... however such is the plethora of prehistoric sites to be found here, where the northern slopes of Y Carneddau literally plunge into the sea, that I assure you nothing was further from my mind this wondrous morning. Except, perhaps, the daily travail. Oh no, as it happens I've had a hankering to return for a day out (that is proper 'out, out', in the Micky Flanagan sense) since being inspired by posts of the great Cors y Carneddau cairn some time back. Inspiration eh? Yeah, what a priceless gift to bestow upon any other individual.
It would appear from the map that the shortest approach to Y Meini Hirion - the tall stones - is also that requiring the most physical effort from the would-be punter (funny that), a public footpath from Graig Lwyd farm ascending steeply southward across the eastern shoulder of the prehistoric 'axe factory' site of Graig Lwyd itself. Guess that although I'm packing plenty of inspiration in my pocket, I'm somewhat lacking in imagination since this is the same route I took twelve years ago upon my only previous visit... however the retrospective, coastal views are excellent, looking across Dwygyfylchi to the Bronze Age copper mines of The Great Orme. Industrious lot, these prehistoric forebears. Well worth the effort every decade or so, then. The path eventually labours up to the crest to bisect the eroded scar that is The North Wales Path, the latter no doubt a prehistoric route along the headwall.
Cefn Coch (Red Ridge) and the Druid's Circle - well, Anglesey is just across the water, so perhaps some of that enigmatic caste did come here - rises to the immediate south, although visitors wishing to approach via the lovely little 'Circle 275' will need to divert a little to the left. Upon arrival I'm instantly glad that I came back, the stones justifying their prosaic name by appearing much more substantial than I recall, particularly when compared with the diminutive orthostats of the archetypal upland Welsh stone circle. The location, however, appears to have been chosen so the monument remains pretty incognito to all except passers-by upon the track below. Burl hypothesises, rightly I think, that stone circle and track are inextricably linked, perhaps in association with Graig Lwyd, too. Well, I reckon it's a good bet anyway. Bog borders the site to the east, the serrated profile of Tal y Fan looming upon the southern horizon with, nearer to hand, a couple more enigmatic prehistoric structures. Northward lies the sea and the former Druid heartland of Ynys Mona.
I rush about trying to capture something of the magical aura generated by the golden light 'on film' before the vibe will inevitably be shattered by the inexorable arrival of the first long distance walkers deviating from the track below. Half an hour later they are here, a group of noisy young ramblers stopping off for lunch accompanied by an adult guide. Sadly, for me, this is Y Meini Hirion's achilles heel, its proximity to a major rambling route. Time to move on toward Moelfre to the west. Not a great hardship, to be fair.
Executing a crafty plan... I return early evening, at the end of a long day, to find the ancient ring once again at its spellbinding best, thankfully minus the barely interested juveniles. At times like this it may well be a contender for Wales' finest stone circle per se. A place to sit and think amongst hoary old stones of seemingly unfathomable symbolism and meaning. If only they could speak and relate some of what has occurred here over the course of millennia. Then again, perhaps they do....
Posted by GLADMAN
21st January 2014ce
Edited 22nd January 2014ce