|Walk Together, Rock Together
It didn't take too long to drive from Great Orme to Penmaenmawr (taking in Edward I's impressive Conwy Castle), and work our way up the mountainside to the Jubilee Towers on Foel Lus - the start of the path up to the Druid's Circle. In my excitement at seeing them sticking up on the distant mountain-top horizon, I rather stupidly said to Jane: "Look! There's the Druid's Circle!"
"There!" (Pointing to far away point on massive mountain).
"WHAT! You're kidding! We're walking up there?!" came the appalled reply.
"Yes, bring your paints, you'll want them," I replied, nipping out of striking distance for a cup of tea before we started off.
Thus it was with look of discomfited and grim determination, Jane set off up the mountain. To be fair, she did far better than I had expected, only complaining once, about halfway up. We had not long passed the Red Farm stones when she said she wished she had a horse, as they did all the walking and looking whilst you just had to look around. How could she possibly see anything when she had to keep looking at the ground?! In fact, she was looking at the ground so intently, she missed Circle 275. What a boring name for such a lovely circle.
Jane plodded on as Moth and I took photos of this ever-so-cute tiny stone circle. A gang of luridly-clad mountain-bikers tore down from the Druid's Circle and halted next to us while waiting for a straggler. They passed comment that we were much like train spotters in our hobby. Not unlike like mountain-bikers then, Moth sagely observed, as the straggler caught up, and the fluorescent numpties pedalled away furiously.
We arrived at the Druid's Circle to find Jane looking cold and fed up, sheltering next to the largest stone. The walk had pushed her to the limits of her endurance, so she sucked on a Camel to recover, and be better able to take in the magnificent setting. Moth was blown away by the place, and I was a little disappointed the weather was so overcast; I had very much wanted to see it in sunshine. Just as we left, my wish was granted – sunshine broke warmly through, transforming the setting, and helpfully illuminating Great Orme into the bargain. By this time, Jane had steeled herself for the ramble back to the car, so didn't return, as Moth and I did, to make use of the precious sunlight. That was a shame, because when the sun lights the whole of the coastline and the stones, it's an inspiring sight.
We also took a swift peek at Circle 278
and ?Monument 280
Back at the car, Jane announced most emphatically, and in a tone not to be trifled with, that she was not doing any more walking that day, come what may. (It should be noted here that the walk up to the Druid's Circle is in fact no more than a mile and a half, and is actually fairly forgiving. The steepest part is on leaving the car, and that rapidly turns a corner onto flatter ground. The path is sign-posted all the way, with suitable landmarks to break the journey. A wet proof is all that's really needed, in case the weather changes rapidly (it being a coastal mountain); in all, it's a pleasant afternoon ramble. As if to prove the point, a pair of star-crossed lovers in jeans and t-shirts skipped past us on the way up).
I replied that she would be gutted to miss Maen-y-Bardd, but she wasn't having any of it. Wisely, though, I had calculated that by the time we had driven round the other side of Tal-y-Fan, and her last cuppa and Camel had taken effect, she would be able to be enticed out for this most splendid of dolmens. How right I was.
Despite the dense cloud promising rain at any time, I was relieved when Jane agreed to meander down the Roman road which cuts through the Rowen complex of megalithic structures. Moth walked along the raised field bank, and it was delightful to hear them both cry out in unison as they spotted Maen-y-Bardd. It has that effect; I challenge anyone not to say "Oh wow!" or just "Oh!" upon seeing it for the first time. Tired, and totally fed up with walking, Jane immediately nested inside it, and was promptly re-energised. Not surprising. The Iced Gem of Dolmens looked just as gorgeous and magical, irrespective of the rapidly lowering skies. Moth and I took lots of photos, before seeking out Rhiw Burial Chamber
After the arresting Kate and I had visited Maen-y-Bardd
last year, I was a tad frustrated to discover there had been much more to see in this spectacular setting. Most importantly, I was keen to discover the 'Greyhound Kennel' (many North Walian tombs are given this title), or Rhiw Burial Chamber on this visit. The night before, a careful note of the OS grid reference had been made in order we could find it speedily. Great idea, but somehow on the day I left it in the car in my excitement to see all these wonderful sites.
After nearly bursting several blood vessels going the wrong way up the hill, I thought to get the Gwynedd
guide out. Frances Lynch's comprehensive notes gave us guidance, and shortly after, Moth expertly spotted it next to a blasted hawthorn.
This was lovely also – much of the mound is intact, and there is a beautifully preserved row of ceremonial stones leading up to the chamber. This is reminiscent of Arthur's Stone
in the south Walian Borders. The chamber itself appears to be set into the hillside, rather than part of a man-made mound, but as Kate pointed out later, it might well be the case that the hillside has evolved round it – it is 5,500yrs or so old, after all. Erosion may have engulfed it somewhat. It is a cracking chamber, not obvious from the road, but a fun one to discover.
All Be Upstanding . . .
By now, the clouds were very dark and heavy, and a gloaming, rather than dusk, was falling. We were running the risk of a soaking, so started back for the car, passing Ffon-y-Cawr standing stone, and Cae Coch standing stone.
This stone points in very phallic style towards the Conwy valley. There wasn't time to get much closer than a squint from the wall side, due to the weather conditions, but thinking about it now, I would like to see how it lines up with Cae Coch
, which is very different.
In contrast to Ffon y fawr, this monolith is very solid, stocky and rounded. Could there be an allusion to male and female within the landscape due to the placing of this pair of stones? No time, and too tired to walk up to it to discover more.
Although by now we were running out of steam, we dared the heavy, gloomy, dark clouds to rain on us as we squeezed in one last site – Cerrig Pryffaid. I was glad we made the effort, as 'The Perfect Stones' to translate the Welsh, are 14 diminutive rocks hiding in a sheep field near the end of the Rowen complex.
One of these stones in the wide-spaced ring had fallen – Jane and I resurrected it, appropriately enough, on Easter Saturday. The method we used might not have been the same as that of the ancients, and was definitely not approved by the HSE. Jane lifted the stone from between her legs, as I shoved it from behind, until it was virtually up her fundament. Interesting interpretation of phallic rocks. We packed its base with smaller stones, and left it balancing.
Finally, we had to defer to the increasing gloom and heavy cloud, so left, sated. We were even more sated on discovering Ye Olde Bull Inn at Llanbedr-y-cennin and a pint of J.W.Lees' 'Dragonfire' ale. Arrived home, knackered, exactly 13 hours after setting out, but enjoying a fabulously megalithic day.
Posted by treaclechops
8th April 2005ce
Edited 9th April 2005ce
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