When I added this site to TMA, it was just an intruiging feature on the OS map, I didn't necessarily expect to be able to get here myself. But Gladman's postings and my own growing fascination with the area have made it not only do-able but also necessary. I walked up here in light drizzle on 1.5.2010, after getting the bus to Bwlch and walking via Llangynidr. The route up was the same as that taken by Mr G, past Pant Llwyd farm. Once out onto the open moorland, it's compass bearings only, as there's not much to guide the visitor to the row. In fact, I managed to walk past it, slightly to the south, then veer back around it to the east, around the north, back round it to the west and then south again before actually spotting the low stones. I was probably no more than 10 or 15 yards away at each increasingly irritated pass. All the time, I watched a big black weather system moving eastwards and over the Black Mountains (how aptly named they are!) across the valley and was thankful that it didn't come my way. Even in light drizzle, this is a lonely, boggy, unforgiving place and I wouldn't want to be lost up here in mist and fog.
Before finally finding the row, I headed slightly uphill to get a better vantage point and just under the band of rocks to the south I came across what may be a small bronze age cairn - not really sure if it's the one mentioned on Coflein or something else. My navigating skills are not sophisticated enough to be sure. And then, poking out of some reedy grass, I saw one of the stones! Once spotted it's unmistakable. At the southern end is a huge recumbent stone, tapering to a point at its eastern end, which suggests it may have been upright at one time. It measures about 2.8m in length (height), 55cm 'deep', and now forms a 'T' shaped cross-piece to the row.
There are a number of stones in the row, some of which may just be fragments rather than individual stones themselves. The row is on a bearing of 54 degrees (from grid north) and points towards the Black Mountains saddle between Pen Cerrig-calch and Pen Gloch-y-pibwr. Working north from the recumbent stone, I took the following measurements, as best as I could given the tall grass the stones are sticking out of:
1. Stone 75cm tall
2. Stone 58cm tall
4. Stone 20cm tall
5. Stone 38cm tall
6. Stone 90cm tall, appears to have been shattered at some time (by frost?) and and may have been taller
7. Stone 20cm tall
11 paces north of this one, hidden in the grass, is a short stump of stone which appears to be on the alignment (I didn't see it until pacing back to the row from the outlier).
There is then a small outlier (48cm tall) 47 rather approximate paces north of the row.
I had intended to go from here to Carreg Waun Llech, but Mr G's photos of Garn Caws and Pant Llwyd cairns were recent and it wasn't far away from my route (one day this will be the kind of thing that gets me into trouble), so I headed up there for a look...
Easter Saturday ... weather not too canny, so most of the population of South Wales, I guess, looks forward to a day in front of the TV eating chocolate. But not all. The call may be unspoken, but never unheard... we must head for the hills.
The small town of Llangynidr - very much the sort of place you'd retire to if you had enough money - lies a little west of Crickhowell beside the River Usk and attendant canal. The shapely peak of Tor-y-Foel, a perennial favourite, precedes the snow-clad summits of The Brecon Beacons to the west. When they are not obscured by a more off-white curtain of opaque vapour, that is. To the south, however, the high ground is of an unknown quantity, the B4560 allowing the motorist panoramic views of The Black Mountains of the quality usually reserved for the hillwalker as it snakes its way towards Ebbw Vale. I check the map. Somewhere upon the western fringes of these uplands lies the obscure Carreg Wen Fawr-y-Rugos stone row. The cloud base is holding. I think I'll give it a go, but neglect to tell the Mam Cymru the true objective. Hey, I might not be 'The Postman', but Gladman must be seen to deliver. And today I'm not too sure I can.
A very minor road descends into Cwm Cleister just before the 'bend-to-end-all-bends' near Pen Rhiw-garn. We (eventually) manage to park below a stile (public footpath sign) midway between the access for Pantllwyd (dirt track) and High Meadow (private road) farms. The latter name is descriptive, the path linking the upland farms across sodden grassland, the way ahead indicated by marker posts. At Pantllwyd farm we veer SW and follow a stony track - more resembling a stream today - between drystone field enclosures towards the open hillside. Breaking free, I take a bearing and up we go....
The mountainside is teeming with water. The vestiges of melting snow? Probably not, since the map shows a myriad natural springs in the area, a fact which no doubt accounts for the especially numerous wild ponies within view. Unlimited food and water on tap. Right on! As we make our way to the far side of the ridge, the barest glimpse of orthostat amongst the coarse, long grass promises success, duly confirmed a few moments later. I manage a few hasty photos before the heavens open, water now coming at us from all sides, not simply straight up from the ground(!!), water driven by wind gusting at approx 40mph now we've left the mountain's lee. Hell, this is a great place for a pic-nic, sitting upon the lead, and by far the tallest, stone, a stone strangely enough 'crossing the T' of the row in its fallen state, suggesting it didn't just topple of its own accord? The other orthostats are much smaller by comparison, although the shattered nature of one may mean it was once more substantial. Some way to the north-east stands a low outlier....
The view to north and north-east towards the Black Mountains is stunning, the decapitated top of Crug Hywel prominent above Crickhowell. But why place a stone row here. Is the proximity to the life-giving springs significant. Or was it intended to point the way towards the burial cairns in the manner of those upon Dartmoor? We must head to the summit and have a look for ourselves...
There are also the remains of a Bronze Age Round Barrow nearby at SO13101755. According to Coflein it is:
'Situated on a local rise above the crest of a steep slope falling away into Dyffryn Crawnon, the cairn consists of stones consolidated with light vegetation and measures 11.5m in diameter. It has a raised rim up to 0.6m high externally, 0.3m internally. Given the uneven interior it seems likely that the rim results from disturbance, though the site's identity as a ring cairn remains possible'.
"Located on a broad terrace on the NW-facing scarp of Mynydd Llangynidr.
The row comprises five upright stones, closely spaced, and is 5m long, aligned NE-SW. The tallest is about 1m high, the shortest 0.5m. At the SW end of the row is what appears to be a fallen monolith. It measures 2.9m long (NW-SE), 0.8m wide tapering to a point at its SE end, and 0.6m thick.
Some 44m to the NE of the row, and roughly on the same bearing, is an outlier set loosely in the peat."
Apologies for poor translation, but the name appears to mean something like "large white stone in the heather" (carreg = stone; wen = white; fawr = large; Y R(h)ugos = clumps of heather). I'm sure someone can do better!