|Easter Saturday ... weather not too canny, so most of the population of South Wales, I guess, looks forward to a day in front of the TV eating chocolate. But not all. The call may be unspoken, but never unheard... we must head for the hills.
The small town of Llangynidr - very much the sort of place you'd retire to if you had enough money - lies a little west of Crickhowell beside the River Usk and attendant canal. The shapely peak of Tor-y-Foel, a perennial favourite, precedes the snow-clad summits of The Brecon Beacons to the west. When they are not obscured by a more off-white curtain of opaque vapour, that is. To the south, however, the high ground is of an unknown quantity, the B4560 allowing the motorist panoramic views of The Black Mountains of the quality usually reserved for the hillwalker as it snakes its way towards Ebbw Vale. I check the map. Somewhere upon the western fringes of these uplands lies the obscure Carreg Wen Fawr-y-Rugos stone row. The cloud base is holding. I think I'll give it a go, but neglect to tell the Mam Cymru the true objective. Hey, I might not be 'The Postman', but Gladman must be seen to deliver. And today I'm not too sure I can.
A very minor road descends into Cwm Cleister just before the 'bend-to-end-all-bends' near Pen Rhiw-garn. We (eventually) manage to park below a stile (public footpath sign) midway between the access for Pantllwyd (dirt track) and High Meadow (private road) farms. The latter name is descriptive, the path linking the upland farms across sodden grassland, the way ahead indicated by marker posts. At Pantllwyd farm we veer SW and follow a stony track - more resembling a stream today - between drystone field enclosures towards the open hillside. Breaking free, I take a bearing and up we go....
The mountainside is teeming with water. The vestiges of melting snow? Probably not, since the map shows a myriad natural springs in the area, a fact which no doubt accounts for the especially numerous wild ponies within view. Unlimited food and water on tap. Right on! As we make our way to the far side of the ridge, the barest glimpse of orthostat amongst the coarse, long grass promises success, duly confirmed a few moments later. I manage a few hasty photos before the heavens open, water now coming at us from all sides, not simply straight up from the ground(!!), water driven by wind gusting at approx 40mph now we've left the mountain's lee. Hell, this is a great place for a pic-nic, sitting upon the lead, and by far the tallest, stone, a stone strangely enough 'crossing the T' of the row in its fallen state, suggesting it didn't just topple of its own accord? The other orthostats are much smaller by comparison, although the shattered nature of one may mean it was once more substantial. Some way to the north-east stands a low outlier....
The view to north and north-east towards the Black Mountains is stunning, the decapitated top of Crug Hywel prominent above Crickhowell. But why place a stone row here. Is the proximity to the life-giving springs significant. Or was it intended to point the way towards the burial cairns in the manner of those upon Dartmoor? We must head to the summit and have a look for ourselves...
Posted by GLADMAN
11th April 2010ce
Edited 11th April 2010ce