|According to my ancient log books, my only previous visit to Drosgl was way back on 28/6/94 during one of those mammoth mountain treks I used to do in those days... yeah, right. That was then, but this is now. However a chance discovery of an archive print suddenly put a return back on the agenda. To be honest I wish it hadn't, but what can you do? So, with 'mammoth mountain treks' clearly not an option, an approach from Bethesda, via Gyrn Wigau seemed the best bet in order to avoid humiliating failure...... sure, no-one would know, but you can't fool yourself, can you?
I wake before dawn, the tent and car encased in a thick carapace of ice and promising a fine day. Right on!... now where's that de-icer? In the garage. Doh! Anyway, with care it is possible to park in Gerlan, the community perched above Bethesda, a stereotypical 'slate town' at the northern end of Nant Ffrancon. From here, passing a bunkhouse and derelict Spar, a named minor road leads to Ciltwllan, a small cluster of houses, beyond which tarmac reverts to rough track. Even in the early stages the scenery is dramatic, Carnedd Dafydd - one of Wales' premier mountains - dominating the skyline to the right. Nice. At a large sheep enclosure an ancient iron gate allows access to the open, grassy flanks of Gyrn Wigau which rise to the north east. A couple of stiles assist the traveller across dry stone walls until the freedom of the hills is yours! Yeah, a minor, but obvious sheeptrack-cum-path then leads the way up the ridge towards Gyrn Wigau's craggy summit - an excellent viewpoint, particularly looking towards the coast to Moel Wnion and Moel Faban's cairns and related prehistoric settlements. Not to mention Ynys Mon - Anglesey itself - lying in splendid isolation across The Menai Straits. Note also a further settlement below Gyrn Wigau's southern flanks within Cwm Caseg.... Hmm. All may be silent now in this unfashionable corner of The Carneddau, but clearly this was once far from the case.
Eventually, however, the eyes are drawn further up the ridge to an apparently small cairn upon the next summit, that of 2,484ft Drosgl. Moving on, a well made track swings in from the left heading towards the spiky, castellated crags of Bera Bach which rise beyond. Although this steadily gains height, it actually skirts to the south of Drosgl's summit... I followed it before circling back, but, in retrospect, a direct approach is probably better. Whatever way you arrive, the sight of the summit plateau, liberally covered with boulders, is memorable and somewhat unexpected after all the preceding grass. Plenty of raw material for cairn building, then.
Needless to say the cairn builders did not disappoint. No sir. OK, the (I assume) modern cairn marking the summit is a very average effort, but the prehistoric versions, significantly sited to the north overlooking the coast and NOT overlooking Cwm Caseg and the heart of The Carneddau, are anything but. Hell no! Excavated in 1976 (see miscellaneous post), two cairns are readilly seen, the southern of which is by far the larger and very impressive by any standards, the northern much smaller, but with visible kerb. Both cairns apparently contained cists when excavated, the southern two (one of them intact), the northern 'just' the one. The larger cairn has clearly been restored to present what I assume is as near as dammit its original appearance. No dodgy storm shelters deface this beauty, contributing to what would be a fine mounument in any location. However placed up here...well... I'll spare you the usual cliches. Suffice to say these two cairns pay host to a superb hang with exceptional, contrasting views of coast and brutal upland landscape.
But that's not all. Very strong walkers may wish to continue past Bera Bach (I got this far) and on to Garnedd Uchaf/Foel Grach, both the latter crowned by their own funerary cairns..... needless to say keep an eye out for mist, however, since this is very serious terrain indeed. On the return back to Gerlan I'm greeted by a somewhat idiosyncratic Irishman dressed in shorts... 'bejasus, I've been warmer in the snow, so I have', he says. Or something like that. Yeah, don't come to the Northern Carneddau and expect the ordinary......
Posted by GLADMAN
22nd November 2010ce
Edited 23rd November 2010ce