The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Allt Lwyd



An early morning of appalling conditions in northern Snowdonia - hey, it happens every once in a while - is the prerequisite catalyst for immediate implementation of 'Plan B', such as it is; drive south to the coast to (hopefully) escape the clammy clutches of the high peaks... and then see what's on the infamous 'bad weather list'. This time, however, I'm well on my way across The Migneint, Spider Stacy's 'Repeal of the Licensing Laws' rattling the car windows in an attempt to resuscitate morale in seemingly terminal decline, before I realise the weather is actually deteriorating further still. Castell y Gaer, the small hillfort overlooking Llwyngwril, flashes into the mind as a potential saviour of a rapidly self-imploding day. Yeah, seem to recall nearby Allt Lwyd also possessing a cairn or two, as noted from the wondrous Craig-yr-Aderyn a few years ago.

Unfortunately a little later on neither option looks a practical possibility since, upon passing the shore of a particularly ethereal Llyn Mwyngil beneath the cloud-wreathed crags of Cadair Idris, a speed boat appears a more viable mode of transport in which to traverse the B4405 today. The weather gods are fickle, however, the (relatively) low ridge of Allt Lwyd undeniably visible beneath the cloud base as, having veered north upon the A493, I approach the small village of Llanegryn. And, no, I didn't make a votive offering at Tal-y-Llyn. Anyway, passing the school, the subsequent right fork climbs to its terminus at the farm of Cae'r Mynach; however it is possible to park - with care, naturally - upon the verge before the field gate at Tai 'r Mynydd a little way beforehand. Here a (signed) public footpath promises access to the hinterland. Hey, why not?

The path ascends the shallow, green hillside to the approx north-east, the intervening ground between gate and the summit of Allt Lwyd packed, according to the map anyway, with hut circles and earthworks, not to mention a rather enigmatic grassy cairn Cae'r Mynach with sweeping, retrospective views of the coast. Beyond the dry stone wall enclosing the upper boundary of the field are located another small cairn at SH6097907818, the remains of a possible 'large cairn' set nearby between apparent sheep folds... and yet more hut circles and enclosures beyond to the approx north. Needless to say there's more, the path continuing its line to present a fine view of the course of the Afon Dyffryn flowing through Cwm-llwyd, the optimum viewing platform a definite large round cairn at SH612081. Despite being damaged by (yet) another parasitical sheep fold upon the south-eastern arc, a substantial volume of stone remains in situ giving a good impression of how the original monument might have appeared. Well, sort of.

Next I head uphill to the south-east, bypassing at least another 'possible' cairn, to the summit of the ridge at SH615077. Here a very significant monument - far more substantial than I was expecting, at least in respect of retained footprint - still stands with possible traces of cist elements within its predictably gutted interior, together with at least one more-or-less certain kerb stone upon the extended circumference. According to Coflein this cairn may have incorporated two separate monuments; an earlier, large ring cairn 'some 23m in diameter and 1m in height' over which was superimposed a kerbed-cairn 'approximately 15m in diameter and 1.5m high' [see misc post]. In addition further linear dry stone features suggest tinkering during historic times. Despite residing at only some 1,286ft (392m) the cairn is a superb viewpoint, particularly southward toward the coast and to the north-east, the gaze following the grassy ridge all the way to Cadair Idris itself.... while to the east the impossibly enigmatic Craig-yr-Aderyn sits across Dyffryn Dysynni, crowned by its powerful hill fort. Yeah, the views are first class.... even if the weather is most certainly not. Bloody freezing, in fact. Although, to be fair, it is no doubt the strengthening wind velocity which is responsible for driving the hill fog away and consequently allowing me to be here at all. No, one can't have it all, despite what those muppets on the TV adverts say.

As it happens Allt Lwyd has one final surprise for this bemused modern antiquarian today, this located across the wire fence a little to the approx south of the summit monument at SH6145807631. The monument, or rather monuments, appear to consist of a large ring cairn, according to Coflein 'some 20m in diameter, 1.5m wide and 0.5m in height.... partially overlain to the south by a later burial cairn, approximately 15m in diameter and 1m in height.' [again see misc post]. This seems a reasonable synopsis to me. What is far more difficult to convey, and certainly beyond the likes of myself, is the sublime vista the latter cairn affords of the fertile valley of Dyffryn Dysynni, the river flowing in lazy, serpentine loops toward the sea, as if reluctant to reach the conclusion of a journey whereby its waters must lose their identity, merging with those of the Afon Dyfi subsumed within Cardigan Bay.

So.... if it wasn't for the appalling weather early doors I'd never have thought of coming to Allt Lwyd today. I'm sure there's a moral in that somewhere. Hey, perhaps it's that we all need to try and be a little more like the Afon Dysynni... attempt to live life in a more 'serpentine' manner? Works for me.
3rd December 2014ce
Edited 4th December 2014ce

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