|First visited February 2000, return visit May 2003.
This is not a stone site to visit unprepared! Set well up in a remote part of the Berwyn mountains, you need good weather conditions, an OS map, some good walking boots, a sense of direction and a dose of lunacy may help!
It is situated about 10 miles south west of Oswestry, near Wales' tallest waterfall Pistyll Rhaedr (taller than the Niagara Falls). The name means "The Spout of Rhea's Water", Rhea being a celtic land goddess. Travelling south of Oswestry on the A483(T), turn west at Llynclys for Llanrhaedr-ym-Mochnant, in the Tanat Valley, on the B4396. Going through Llanrhaedr, watch out for a fairly obscure right turn for the waterfall; this is the only road. Both drivers I have been here with missed the turn on their first visit! About 3 miles along this road, you should see the waterfall swing into view. There is parking: £1 donation for the nearest to the waterfall; or (apparently) free a bit further back down the road.
I had been wanting to visit this site for several months, but lacked a suitable travelling companion, the time, and better weather conditions. Alas, a time came when I had a week off work, I had a friend willing to drive there and accompany me to the site (I had begun to attempt visiting this site with my pregnant wife, and 15 month old daugther, but had to give up!), and the weather forecast was good!
On arrival, the manager of Tan-y-Pistyll restaurant was in the car park. After a few brief words, I asked if the stone circle was still there, which it was; he gave me advice on how to find the stones, which came in invaluable (which I will also recount). Having looked around the waterfall, we set off up a track, which leads through some trees, then forks to the left, and zig-zags a few times. This is the steepest part of the journey! Follow the track up to the left. You will soon see access to the top of the waterfall (recommended viewing!), but keep going along the track for the stone site.
Heading westwards, stay on the lower path which runs about 200 yards parallel to the stream (Afon Disgynfa) on your left, for most of the journey. Some of the areas up here are very boggy, so watch your footing and plan your steps. Shortly after a fence and metal sheep enclosures, the path forks; take the lower path down to some fallen stone sheep enclosures, adjacent to the stream. The upper path is considerably more boggy, and brings you out too high to easily access the stone circle. Once at the sheep enclosures, you should see a rise between the dominant mountains, to the north west. You are nearly there! If you look at your OS map, you should be at the confluence of two streams; one running from the north, feeding the stream which feeds the waterfall. You will need to find your own way across this stream! Look for suitably large stones / rocks in the stream to go across! Once across, look to the rise immediately to your front right. Refer to your OS map once again. Just to the north there is a further confluence of streams, and west of that confluence is marked a cairn, and then a little further west, the stone circle.
Treading your way up through the bracken on the ridge (there is no path here!), head for the cairn, which is on the highest part of the ridge. Do not go to the N or NE side of this ridge - it is extremely boggy and wet. We approached from this angle, and it was a little alarming at how the ground sunk when trod on! The moor, and Berwyn mountains have many 'blanket bogs'; they are not mapped as such and are usually armpit deep; even so, I would not like to meet one. Once at the ridge you should see the cairn. To the east, if it is a good day, you will have an awesome view. To your SW, you should see a slightly lower ridge, about 300 feet away. It is unlikely you will see the stone circle from the cairn, as the stones, at the tallest are around 2 to 3 feet, and the area is covered with long grass. If you head towards the slightly lower ridge, and just keep your eyes peeled for some stones protruding from the grass.
I found the circle first of all, some 17 stones, with another stone in the middle. 3 stones were barely visible, 2 were sunken, 3 fallen sideways. The remainder varied in height from 10 inches, to 3 feet, approx. The circle was about 37 feet in diameter, and 120 feet in circumference. Feeling rather pleased with finding this, I went to the east side, and found another stone, and then another, treading down the grass in front of me. Eventually, I found 24 stones in a row this way, stretching some 150 feet. Running parallel to this was another row, coming to 19 stones. I felt each step carefully, finding some completely sunken stones this way. Both rows had the majority of stones in exact alignment with each other, with a few out of line. The northernmost row (19 stones) towards the eastern end, tapers in towards the southern row.
Interestingly, the site's name (Rhos-Y-Beddau) means 'The Moor of the Graves', which may show a connection with burial or funerary rites for the site. Although the weather forecast was sunshine all day, black clouds, and a strong SW wind was adding quite a chill up here, so we stayed at the most for half an hour. Later at home, seeing the satellite picture of the country, the skies were clear apart from the East of the country, and a blob over central Wales!
En route down we looked around the waterfall; if you do this, mind the mud! I trod in what looked 2 to 3 inches of mud, and went immediately down to my knee (thankfully only one leg!), which was rather worrying for a short space of time.
Do bear in mind that the whole area is a Site of Special Scientfic Interest, and the moor is a breeding ground for rare birds. Hen harriers, Peregrin falcons and Red Kites. Take care, and do not take anything or cause any damage!
Posted by ShropshireTraveller
13th November 2004ce
ShropshireTraveller's TMA Blog