|An Easter visit to see our 'best woman', treaclechops, and her partner in North Wales allowed Moth and me to go megalithing with her around the Conwy valley. She had devised a magical megalithic mystery tour for us. And boy, did we pack 'em in. An early start to avoid bank holiday traffic meant we were up at Capel Garmon by 9am. (Spotted four waxwings in a tree on the way!)
Moth and treaclechops had both visited here before, but it was my first visit. What a surprise!
Crikey! Didn't expect to come face-to-face with a typical Cotswold-Severn tomb in North Wales.
The lovely horned forecourt and shape of the entire structure is marked out with little kerbstones placed there following an excavation in 1925. The main passageways are open to the elements now, save for one large capstone flaking like tasty French patisserie.
The interior of the open passageway has large pointy uprights used as walling materials with drystone walling in between. The construction reminded me of Orcadian stalled cairns.
Though much of the cairn material is gone, there is enough left to indicate the vast height and bulk of this place. The rolling irregular contours of the grass on the monument undulate and flow in the same way as they do on Hetty Peglar's Tump. Gorgeous.
This is an 'A-list' site in the most beautiful valley overlooked by a corking gorsedd stone. What a shame the wretched information boards are sited too high and the large metal kissing gate is just a bit too close to the monument.
After the joy of Capel Garmon, Hendre Waelod might have disappointed but there are still things to enjoy about it.
Hendre Waelod, also known as Allor Morloch, is in a lovely position overlooking the river Conwy on the edge of the valley on a gentle slope 300ms from the river. But it has suffered from neglect and screams to be cared for or it will be lost.
But you don't have to look too closely to see the power and the glory of this monument. It mostly consists of a giant capstone, perhaps two and half metres in diametre and certainly three feet thick. I'll repeat that in case you missed it, because it forced me to do a double take. A giant capstone... three feet THICK! WOW! The supporting stones are small and appear to have buckled or melted under the weight. But they are still there, in pretty poor condition, granted, but they still hold the capstone up.
Festooned around with rusty barbed wire, it now forms part of an evil fence on which I almost tore off some highly sensitive parts of my anatomy. (Warning, don't try to 'scissor' over the fence, use the kissing gate further up the hill). It is largely this sense of it being rudely used as part of a fence and a sheep shelter that contributes to its forgetten, abused unkemptness.
Driving through the seaside town of Llandudno, stopping to buy junk food for a picnic, we pointed the car at the vertical incline of Great Orme Head which rises sheer to the north of the town. Upon here are lots of lovely sites to enjoy. Most tourists go up on the tramway/cable car thingy but we hadn't the time for such distractions and followed the signs to the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines. A dirty great open quarry at the top reveals the scale of the prehistoric industry here and the massive importance of this place. We didn't go in and visit the mines even though we quite fancied it, instead we chose to see the features still standing in the landscape and have a picnic in the sunshine overlooking one of them.
Just 50ms from the great open gash of Great Orme copper mines, down at the end of Cromlech Road is what is left of Llety'r Filiast burial chamber, standing in a field by some houses one of which is clearly inhabited by a dog-lover. I'd like to have spent a lot longer here and got my paintbox out, but it was nearly lunchtime and our schedule wouldn't allow for such frivolity. We had to move on to Great Orme stone row.
The chamber is exposed and quite trashed with half its capstone broken off, pieces of rock strewn about. But it still stands, supported by great flat slabs upon which grows great white blotches of lichen. Stretching out behind it rises a massive tump of cairn material. No doubt the people who were laid to rest here were those from the mining community who worked the awesome*(!) copper mines just beyond.
Moth and treaclechops didn't like it as much as I did. I loved it. I felt a real sense of connection with the people who build the monument because the fruits of their day-to-day labours were still visible at the mine. These were people who founded the first great British industrial revolution.
Not easy to find this. Drive up to the car park/picnic area just before the cemetary and park. Walk along the track that heads north west for about 350ms. There's an information sign. Walk about 50ms beyond this then change direction by 90 degrees and head off north west for about 250ms. Now you need to activate your megalithic radars! We hunted round for quite some time before we located it. There are tons of erratics up here and in the summer with the vegetation high it might be ever harder to find. The OS map really helped, but once you find it. it's unmistakable. This was treaclechops' first stone row and as the weather was so gentle and clement we decided to have our picnic here.
A pair of rows, 2ms apart, run down an incline towards the sea for 30 ms or so. Most of the white stones are reasonably small, but one or two of them are perhaps 3 feet tall. Stylistically it reminded us of Dartmoor stone rows. The view into the Irish sea is stunning from up here, perhaps 150 feet above sea-level with more a less a sheer drop below.
The next bit, I confess, I wasn't looking forward to as much. I suspect it might involve 'a bit of a walk'... read 'Conwy crusade: Tal-y-fantastic'