|I'd been meaning to spend a day on Ynys Môn (aka Anglesey), and FourWinds' July excursion gave me the kick up the backside that I needed to get on and do it.
After the usual slow start, and extremely slow service at the Dolgellau Little Chef, we arrived on the island at lunchtime. First stop was Plas Newydd, which I was determined to get at (even though it breaks the sacred Charter of Megalithic Webmasters).
Visited 2nd August 2003: Based on my experiences working on another estate, I decided we could just brazen it out, so long as we were confident and polite. We drove up the drive in our clapped out Fiat Uno, and parked behind the trees near the house. I left the others in the car (Lou doesn't share my taste for this sort of thing) and strolled up to the chamber.
The chamber is beautifully proportioned. You can really see why some people mistook it for a folly. I didn't go inside, because that would have looked a bit weird (not in keeping with my "I'm supposed to be here" persona). I did my best to look academic, and strolled around the taking it all in.
On my way back to he car I nodded and smiled to a National Trust bloke in a minibus. He looked at me a bit strangely, then grinned back and waved. All the cloak and dagger stuff is fun, but there really should be better access to this site. It's a darned sight more important than the house. Even carefully controlled access on a regular basis would be better than the current situation.
After that we drove up the A4080 to Bryn-Gwyn Tre'r Dryw following Elderford's directions (recommended).
Visited 2nd August 2003: Ever since I first read about them, I've been fascinated by these stones, and at last I've got to visiting them. It's no secret that they're big, but you have to stand next to them to get a real idea of just how big. They're much larger than anything else in the area, and standing next to them you can't help wondering about everything that's been lost here. This is an excellent place. I'll definately be back.
We then retraced our steps a bit to get to Castell Bryn-Gwyn, parking in the lay-by at the end of the track. Surprisingly we had the sense to take lunch with us.
Visited 2nd August 2003: We went on to Castell Bryn-Gwyn after Bryn-Gwyn Tre'r Dryw
, by which time the sun had come out again. It was lunch time, so we had a picnic on top of one of the banks. After the food William and I played rolling down the bank. This is a great place to hang out, and I'd recommend it as a picnic spot.
I'd spotted the next two sites on the Landranger when I was planning the trip. We approached the Trefwri Standing Stones from the direction of Brynsiencyn, parking not far beyond Caer Leb and approaching the stones via the farm track (another breach of our sacred code).
Visited 2nd August 2003: After Trefwri (East)
we doubled back to it's bulky and broad neighbor, Trefwri (West). It's not entirely clear whether this stone originally stood upright, or whether it's always been longer than it is tall. In places it's shot with brilliant quartz, but from a distance the stone looks a dumpy and dowdy. Like it's partner, the location of the stone near the river (Afon Braint) is interesting.
Visited 2nd August 2003: Even though we approached from the west, we went to see Trefwri (east) first. It's not enormously tall, but pleasingly proportioned. It has quartz seams running along it's length, and a heavy strata visible on the sides and top of the stone. It looks good and old. This Trefwri stone stands closer to Afon Braint than it's neighbor.
After these two relatively obscure stones we were ready for the headliner of the day, so we headed north towards Barclodiad-y-Gawres, following the A4080 (yet another double back). It was a very pleasant journey, following the coast up to Llanfaelog to collect the key.
Visited 2nd August 2003: Why is everyone in such a rush to get to Barclodiad-y-Gawres
? This little cairn (or tumulus depending on who you ask) is on the way, and well worth the detour (a detour of about 3 meters from the footpath). The remains of a cist are clearly visible in the middle of what's now a rather flattened mound.
It's tempting to keep stepping backwards trying to get a photo of the cairn with the sea behind it, but be careful of the quarry that has been dug just to the east of the site.
Visited 2nd August: Went to shop, got key. It's not difficult you know! I can't believe how many people are missing the key bit!
Barclodiad-y-Gawres is a strange contradiction of a site. It's beautiful and it's ugly. It's moving, but someone has used the entrance as a urinal. Everyone who comes in while we're there is amazed by the carvings, but there are T-lights and dead flowers scattered liberally around the place. The damp darkness inside and the salty fresh brightness outside are too much to cope with in quick succession.
After too much time in the cage we ended up on the beach with ice creams (as sold by Wayside General Stores).
We spent a while on the beach, and William got very wet. Eventually it was time to move on, so we left in search of dinner, heading north for Holy Island (driving past Ty Newydd and Trefignath which really pained me). We ended up in Holyhead eating pizza in the car (from the ever so excellent Pizzeria La Gondola), before making a dash for Penrhos Feilw.
Visited 2nd August 2003: Penrhos Feilw was the last site we visited on our August Ynys Môn day trip, and by the time we arrived the light was fading. I'd had visions of watching the setting sun from here, but a large cloud bank spoiled the view. Still, it was a good place to be.
What beautiful tall things these stones are. They aren't as isolated as most of the photos suggest. There's a farm house nearby, and a static caravan by the gate. There are also far too many telegraph and power cables in the area, tainting the views towards the west. I shouldn't over emphasise these relatively minor intrusions. Penrhos Feilw is well worth a visit.
Then it was time to head home, detouring a bit to visit the beautiful village of Rhoscolyn where went as as kids. After a couple of long hours on the road we got back home, after midnight, exhausted. What a fun day trip!