The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian




Leaving Y Das with mixed feelings - failure to find the barrow, exhilaration at the joyous views - I head northeast to Rhos Dirion (28.4.2011). Rhos Dirion tops the 700m mark, but is a strangely flat and featureless summit marked only with a slowly-cracking trig point. However, it does have the advantage of views of all of the highest points in the Brecon Beacons National Park, from Fan Brycheiniog in the west, past Pen-y-Fan (Corn Du hidden behind), to Waun Fach and Pen y Gadair Fawr close at hand. To the north, the patchwork fields of east Wales and Herefordshire stretch away into the distance.

The next summit, Twmpa, has much more of a "proper" summit feel to it. It is marked by a fairly unimpressive modern walkers' cairn, which sits on a flattened stoney platform. There's nothing on the OS (or Coflein) to indicate any prehistoric monument ever crowned this hilltop, but I am strongly reminded of the similarly-positioned cairns of Y Mynydd Du - Tor-y-Fan Foel and Fan Foel in particular. This is a terrific spot anyway, and it is very difficult to imagine that the Bronze Age people who built the cist on nearby Pen-y-Beacon (Hay Bluff) and the cairns on other Black Mountains tops would not have viewed it as a worthy place for such a monument.

From here, the ground drops fairly gently down a well-made path to Gospel Pass, the road that leads up through the mountains from Hay on Wye to Capel-y-Ffin. Across the road, the path climbs again, much more steeply and first and then - thankfully - more gently to the trig point that marks the top of Hay Bluff. The cist is right at the sharp, northern end of the Bluff. Below, the ground drops away dramatically to the ruined stone circle at Pen-y-Beacon. What an amazing place for a burial, with magificent views stretching ahead for many miles.

And it is this direction that I am taking, off the edge of the Bluff and down to the circle below.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
8th May 2011ce
Edited 8th May 2011ce

Comments (4)

Pen Rhos Dirion is actually one of my favourite South Walian peaks, but is bloody uncooperative... the thing about most of the Black Mountains ridges - there are exceptions, notably Y Grib and Black Hill - is you need to stick to the sheep tracks at escarpment edge (and not walk down the usual central path to the 'summits' with the other hill walking punters), if you really want to appreciate the beauty of the landscape, the ridges being so wide and flat. Pen Rhos Dirion's great northern gulleys make it very reminiscent to me of Cadair Idris's Tyrrau Mawr. Pen-y-Beacon is another case in point. The summit is nondescript, but there is a small overhanging rock on the border which is possibly the Mam C's favourite spot in Wales (if indeed it is in Wales - hadn't thought of that). Trouble with this, of course, is that it takes much more time and energy.... not good for long distance walking. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
8th May 2011ce
Fair point. I didn't stray off path on Rhos Dirion itself, but I did spend some time looking down off the cliffs of Rhiw y Fan, slightly to the northeast. Magnificent scenery.

I haven't got up Black Mountain yet (or Black Hill, the easternmost ridge of the range), but hope to do so before long. I guess Mam C's stone is on the way to one of those from the Bluff.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
8th May 2011ce
Black Mountain (confusing, eh?) is just one great big peat bog... or was when I last went... up to my knees, as I recall, although there is a nice little tarn. However carry on down the escarpment edge and you can veer left to Black Hill. This is a good quiz question, cos people always say Dartmoor has the highest ground in Southern England. It hasn't, Black Hill is and has the most wonderful, narrow southern approach ridge known as the Cat's Back. No archaeology, but a fine, fine walk.

You could always double-back, however, and carry on down past Red Daren/Black Daren and Hatterrall Hill to see several cairns and a promontory fort. Only managed the Wiral cairn to date, but an approach from the Hatterrall Hill end is on the list.
8th May 2011ce
Yes, all that is on the to-do list, definitely. At some point we will have to cross Black Mountain ridge on Offa's Dyke Path, but I reckon we're probably a year or more away yet! Oswestry section coming next... thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
11th May 2011ce
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