I first came across this defended settlement whilst blue spotting on Coflein some years ago, always keen to find somewhere new to observe I spied it through the looking glass that is google earth, and it looked good.
But it can take me a while to get there, sometimes it can take years, as it did here. During my journeys elsewhere, esteemed TMA'er Gladman came over and had a look and provided much picturey goodness, it does look good. I'm on my way Craig.
Two dolmens, a cairn circle, five standing stones, and a cairn have seen us through most of the day, but Ive seen them all before so as far as I'm concerned I've saved the best til last.
Dark skies are brooding over the mountains, there is no threat of rain from them, this afternoon they are for aesthetic appearance only. But Thesweatcheat and I are basking in the late golden glow of a beautiful December day, the light right now is just sweet, you could bottle it up and sell it for a million pounds a bottle. Bloody cold though, the biting winds are searching out gaps in my umpteen layers of clothing, there are no gaps, but it's still cold.
Leaving the Pont Scethin stones behind us we head south walking the more or less level ridgeway up to the fort, the ground is littered profusely with rocks, I note like Gladman the small pointy ones that remind us of those black and white horses, whilst noting them I cracked my knee on a big rock, cor strewth that hurt, still does several days later, heroically I said nothing .
As anticipated we reached the fort, as this is the easiest route to the fort I was kind of expecting the entrance to be here, but it weirdly is just left around the corner on the forts east side, but we didn't know that until we had already climbed up and over the high rampart, instead of the expected entrance there are two extra lines of ramparts at the north end.
Once in the fort I follow Alken on an anticlockwise peripheral walk, but I soon get distracted by the large chunk of sloping bedrock with a small boulder resting upon it's very top, I park my arse on the slope and take in the scene, it is very lovely. The sea view is a good one, that's where the blue sky and sunshine are coming from, the far off Lleyn peninsula succeeds in looking further away than it is, the Afon Ysgethin is a river of lava, lit up perfectly by the soon to be setting sun.
The mountain view is better still, dark clouds keep the peaks mostly in shadow whilst the sun does it's thing lighting up the mountain sides, the way light hits something at this time of day is, well, it's special, it shouldn't be, it's just the ground interacting with light that's spent longer in the Earths atmosphere, but, my it makes you take a deep breath and stare longingly for this kind feeling all the time.
Three of us have been here now but the other two both said it was better than they were expecting, do they not do there homework, tsk, for me it was just what I was expecting, I knew it would be a good one, and the good weather was a true bonus, Voodoo priestess I love you.
The walls, in places, are in what looks like still genuine iron age build, true I wouldn't know if there's a difference between their walling techniques and those from other time periods, but it's there, and it looks good. Presently we have worked our way round to the entrance, it's a bit small, and curly, and someone has shifted rocks around to make a throne, are you seeing this Fowler, i'm looking your direction. Out of the entrance and down hill fifty yards are hut circles, I think I saw four, one of them is in very good condition, very good for almost gone anyway.
Back up to the fort and it's time for the sun to sink into a low bank of cloud that hugs the far horizon, once more I totally and inadequately manage to photograph the moment. A few deep breaths later and it is sadly time to go, there will not be time to search out the cairnfield almost right next to the fort, it is going dark and we've a long drive home, nothing more to look forward to today except the drive home with lovely Lisa Tarbuck, but I will most assuredly be back soon, well, relatively soon.
I first became aware of the existence of this somewhat obscure upland enclosure through retrospectively trying to relate the 1:25K OS map to images taken upon Llawlech a decade back. However it's fair to say the c2 mile walk-in from the west was a bit off-putting. But there you are.... eventually the site rose to the top of the bad weather list.
Needless to say events did not exactly go to plan -do they ever? - the discovery of an extensive, unmarked cairnfield to the immediate west ensuring I arrive a couple of hours later than anticipated. However it is worth the wait, the hill fort proving to be a substantial structure crowning the southern end of a prominent rocky ridge running across the valley, that is between the overwhelming mass of Moelfre to the north and the Afon Ysgethin to the south.
Approaching from the aforementioned wondrous cairnfield I find a very well built (modern) drystone field wall blocking the direct route. Fortuitously, as it happens, since the easiest option is clearly (duh!) to return to the track and approach along the ridge itself, this manoeuvre allowing the traveller an opportunity to discern how the surface rock almost approximates a natural 'cheveux de frise' arrangement, albeit a bit of a chaotic version. Yeah, it doesn't take that much imagination (luckily) to determine the effect such a landscape would have had upon a cavalry - or infantry - charge back in the day, particularly with additional dry stone outworks covering the approach. Morever, according to Coflein, it appears the main entrance was to the south-east, thus ensuring the task of a storming party was even more difficult:
"Craig-y-Dinas, which crowns a prominent outcrop, is a stone walled polygonal hillfort some 75m x 40m with outworks extending 14m to the north-east. It has extensive entrance works to the south-east where stone clearance and walling for an approach trackway can be traced for about 80m to the east and about 107m to the south-east of the hillfort entrance. RCAHMW, April 2009"
There is a significant volume of drystone rampart still remaining in situ here, far more than I expected, to be honest. Yeah, a ghostly shell of an ancient enclosure, garrisoned nowadays by none save an occasional wandering sheep or carrion crow, the sole enemy the inclement weather. However it is the dramatic location which really impresses, the view eastward encompassing the bare, 2000ft plus summits of the southern Rhinogydd rising above the Afon Ysgethin, the river forded in the middle distance by the enigmatic Pont Ysgethin carrying what was once the major London-Harlech mail coach route through these parts... or so I read somewhere or other some time ago. Hard to believe now, such is the haunting, almost melancholic vibe which appears to fill the valley like invisible temperature inversion. The graceful, yet solidly built arch of the bridge is, in my opinion, well worth a closer look if you can spare the time. As are the mountains themselves, it goes without saying, although unfortunately I haven't come across any ancient cairns upon the main peaks (although the 'pile of stones' at the summit of Moel Ysgyfarnogod to the north did set the Gladman senses a'tingling, to be truthful). To the approx south-east the crags of Llawlech overlook Llyn Erddyn (there is a brace of cairns up there) whilst westwards the enclosure provides a fine panorama of the course of the river flowing to the sea, not to mention that aforementioned extensive cairn-field ignored by all and sundry!
As I sit and 'do lunch'... as one does... subject to the occasional blustery shower sweeping along the valley, my attention is nevertheless inevitably drawn to the north where the swirling cloud base periodically, tantalisingly reveals the massive cairn to the right of the summit of Moelfre. It sure looks a big 'un. Too large for a dedicated Citizen Cairn'd to resist, in fact. So... unwisely, perhaps, I decide to go have a look.