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Carn Pen Rhiw-ddu

Round Cairn


Easter Monday dawns damp and highly overcast in South Wales. So what else is new? Oddly, however, the mountain forecast reckons the cloudbase will rise above 2,000ft by mid-day. Yeah, right. But worth taking a chance nonetheless. We head for the western extremity of the prosaically named Y Mynydd Du - The Black Mountain... on days like today, believe me, it certainly is.

Beyond Pontardawe the A474 heads northwards through Cwm Gors, the exquisite cairn circle of Carn Llechart, out of sight but most definately not out of mind, above to our left. The A4069 branches right towards Brynamman and then begins the ascent alongside the western bank of the Nant Garw [note the riverside prehistoric settlement, below to your right] into as bleak and hostile an environment as you could probably imagine. The uncompromising slopes of Garreg Llwyd guard the pass above to our right, equally brutal terra incognita rises to our left. The traveller is therefore left completely unprepared for the sweeping, majestic northern vista which suddenly materialises upon reaching the parking area at Rhiw Wen. Or at least he/she would be if the whole bloody mountainside wasn't engulfed in cloud! Perhaps this wasn't a good idea, after all? However us English folk have a secret weapon to deploy in times such as these... there's always time for a nice cup of tea! Sure enough, the cloud mantle begins to waiver in the gale-force winds and release its hold. Damn, I do believe the Met boys are actually going to be right!

Garreg Llwyd, with its Bronze Age cairn, is the obvious choice for an outing, but it is Carn Pen Rhiw-ddu, to the south-west, which is our target for today.... the perceptive may well have discerned a clue in its title as to why. Anyway, a short scramble beyond disused quarrying brings us to a rock strewn landscape featuring an east-west craggy ridge topped by a pretty neat cairn. Not especially large, but well built, albeit defaced somewhat by the obligatory internal 'shelter'. The views - now that the cloud has lifted - are pretty superb, not only northwards towards the beautiful, fertile valley of the Afon Tywi, with Mid Wales beyond, but eastwards across the northern escarpment of Mynydd Du itself, the two, great cairns of Carnau'r Garreg Las prominent upon their ridge.

However it is the view to the west which is arguably the most intriguing. I check the map - with much difficulty in the wind, it has to be said - and note that the great stone pile on the horizon must be Carn Pen-y-Clogau. Needless to say the Mam Cymru's up for it.
12th April 2010ce
Edited 13th April 2010ce

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