It may seem to be somewhat taking the proverbial wotsit to describe an afternoon of swirling mist, high winds and showers as 'better conditions', but following a morning of truly atrocious weather at Castell Bwa-Drain, it is the truth. And, hey, this is Wales after all....
A minor road leaves the B4343 from Devil's Bridge at Pont-rhyd-y-groes, heading for New Row - or Rhes Newydd, if you are a local who paid attention at school - from where a left hand fork gives access to the small village of Brynafan. At crossroads just to the east, I take the southern farm track - on foot, I hasten to add - and disappear into the fog. Here we go again.... Eventually a hill, for want of a better description, materialises through the gloom. Ha! Good place for a hillfort, a hill. This must be it, I guess. The field gate is unlocked, but since a farmhouse is nearby I decide to go and have a word. A young bloke eyes me suspiciously, brandishing a welder's torch.... gulp... a pretty hot reception, if the truth be told. Whatever happened to the old fashioned pitchfork? Luckily the farmer pokes his head 'round the corner and readilly agrees to a visit.
The hillfort occupies a crag high above the Afon Ystwyth in much the same manner as the aforementioned Castell Bwa-Drain does above the Rheidol, with man made defences only thought necessary where an approach could be practically made - no need towards the south, then. OK, the site has seen better days - after two millennia what do you expect? - but nevertheless two reasonably powerful ramparts can be seen protecting a rocky summit and what appears to be an extensive enclosure to the east. Nice. But it is the siting which is the lasting memory of a visit to Castle Grogwynion. Even in swirling mist, the view looking down upon the Afon Ystwyth to the west is exceptional. I must be enjoying myself because my watch all too soon indicates I must leave to avoid being overtaken by the inexorable approach of darkness. I meet the farmer in his tractor as I climb the farm track back to the road. 'Enjoy yourself?' he enquiries, and is clearly happy as punch when I answer in the affirmative. Right on!
N.B. - apologies for the quality of photo posts. They were the best I could manage in the circumstances!
By far the easiest approach is from the north, we parked by some big black bagged hay roles half way down a farm track, and sneaked
the rest of the way.
High above the Afon Ystwyth (and I mean high) is the third of todays hillforts, it was the most beaten down of the three but it was in
the most exhilerating position, the view up and down the river is perfect. The entrance and a long bank arcing east-west enclosing the
hilltop between the long way down to the river and the easy way up are all thats
left. The best view of the hill fort is from the car as you approach.
A short thankyou to the capricous welsh weather is needed
as it was greyer than a greys grey spot, but no more than a
few spots of chilled sky water did touch our tender selves.