|Walked up here from Llanfihangel Crucorney, home to the "Oldest Pub in Wales" if its sign is to be believed (4.6.2011). It's a walk along winding country lanes, a bit more traffic than comfortable but nice and easy going. For those who wish to visit by car, take the narrow and steeply climbing lane that's the first on the right after Stanton (opposite a pub and campsite), this leads up to a forestry parking place and the fort is a fairly short walk from there.
It's worth at least walking along the lane from the forestry parking, as there are terrific views to be had to the north, taking in the central Black Mountains ridges and the village of Cwmyoy with its wonky church, through gaps in the foliage. Plus someone has built a little 'stone circle' (well, arc) thing near to Pen-Rhiw. On a hot day like my visit, the shady lane is a welcome break from the blazing sunshine too.
The approach to the camp is across the access land to its north. The northern rampart is immediately visible, protecting the fort on its naturally weakest side. Following the curve of the slope round to the eastern entrance, it's here that the views really start to kick in. First of all the umistakable profile of Ysgyryd Fawr (The Skirrid), over to the southeast. Entering the fort at its eastern end and I'm presented with a beautiful vista, centred on Pen-y-Fal (The Sugarloaf).
The rampart is much less formidable on the southern side, understandable given how sharply the hillside drops away to the farmland below. It's difficult to take my eyes off the view though. Before reaching the halfway point along the southern rampart, the fort is bisected by a bank dividing the eastern (higher) side from the western side. To the west the views keep on unfolding, taking in Crug Mawr, with the rounded summit of Pen Cerrig-calch just visible beyond. Then round to the northwest and the shapely summit of Pen-y-Gadair Fawr, clothed by the greenery of the Mynydd Du forest. Further NNW, the ridge of Chwarel y Fan, my ultimate objective for the day, seems a long way off.
Onto the rampart along the north, noting that two separate earthworks cross the centre of the fort. Approaching the eastern end, the rampart bulges outwards, following the natural line of the slope. The lush Vale of Ewyas (home to Llanthony Priory) provides a contrast to the exposed, steep-sided ridges on either side. Breathtaking.
The panoramic views all around, taking in much of the Black Mountains, belie the relatively modest height of the fort (although calling 427m a modest height depends on relative heights of the immediate surroundings!). Superbly sited, come on a clear and fine day to best appreciate its charms.
I head north, towards Garn Wen and then onwards and upwards to Chwarel y Fan.
Posted by thesweetcheat
6th June 2011ce
Edited 25th August 2011ce