There is no easy way to get here, there can be no drive by action photo, not even a leisurely sunny picnic, you cant even, if you get there, point at the ancient site and say there it is. This is about as far from civilisation as you can get in Wales, but it is not off the beaten track, it is right on it, it is not far from the maddening crowd, you'd think it would be, until 40 odd runners jog by.
My walk started in the full car park at Bwlch y Dduefaen, after a quick shufty round Barclodiad Y Gawres, and the standing stones it was follow the old grey wall up the hill. After much turning round and staring off wistfully into the distance I got up on top of the first summit, Carnedd y Ddelw, it has a very good cairn. Then up to Carnedd Penyborth-Goch on top of Drum, it too, as the name suggests is a cairn, it's not quite as good as the last one but it occupies a superior position.
The plan was get up Llwytmor mountain, but as my memories fade into soft middle age I realise that I cant get to Llwytmor without going up Foel Fras. So I just go up there, and decide to see what is what when I get there.
The incredible landscape up on Foel Fras should have been enough to keep me seated here until it was time to go, but a couple of race marshals are just a few meters away and the runners are passing by closely, did I mention there is some kind of cross country race going on, these fruit cakes are actually trying to run up a mountain, they fail quite entertainingly, it does me good to see people more knackered than me, one plonker had his shirt off and asked me for sun cream, your kidding right, expose my skin to the angry sun?. I watched them pass me by and wondered how you would go about getting up a mountain quickly, apparently you bend over double, grab your knees and push, wringing every last drop of energy from those poor abused legs.
Like I said, this new to me summit should have been enough, but the newly laid path isn't too steep up to the next summit, which looks like it's got a killer view of Yr Elen and if i'm not mistaken is Garnedd Uchaf, I absolutely refuse to call it by that new fangled name, what ever it is.
So I gird my loins, I lied there sorry, I don't even know what girding is, and head off for what surely must be my final destination.
Coflein says very little about the summit of Garnedd Uchaf, it only assumes there was a cairn here because of the mountains name, Carnedd is a cairn. But it also, just to add to the TMA'ers confusion, says there are some piles of stones that delineate the county border, it was I think one of these that I've photographed and put up on here.
There may well be a ruined cairn up here somewhere, but there is so much stone up here that you could probably point at ten collections of stone and say is that it? or maybe none at all. There is enough stone up here to build half a dozen Castleriggs and still have enough left over for a Long Meg or two. Perhaps the most conspicuous of prominent rocks up here is what earned this peak the name of Carnedd, it certainly looked like a big cairn from Foel Fras. I take a seat among these highest rocks as much out of the wind as possible which is not at all because it's coming from the direction I want to face. The direction you want, no, the only way to look is southish, the view is stunning, possibly the best view in Wales, shoot, I may have said that before. Immediate and centre is yr Elen, to it's left is Foel Grach, Carnedds Llewelyn and Dafydd, to it's right Carnedd y Filiast, Elidir Fawr and maybe Y Garn, and many more as the saying goes. With no cairn to inspect there is much time to admire the view, and it is admirable. But mountain watching, brilliant as it is, always has an end and I'm reaching my end of the day, the good thing about the route I've taken is I get to see the whole thing again, all four or five miles of it.
By the time I get back to the car my feet aren't just sore, they're positively throbbing, and the battery in my camera died too soon, and I didn't have anyone to say "hey, that looks good doesn't it" to, I felt a bit guilty not having Alken with me, I know he'd have loved it.
Coflein cites the pile of rocks which crown the 3,038ft summit of Garnedd Uchaf as a possible prehistoric funerary cairn... which I would have thought to be a pretty safe bet in this context, what with numerous other examples crowning the tops of the high Carneddau peaks all around - so much so that Foel Fras is notable for not possessing one! Ha! The name itself means 'Highest Cairn'.... not quite the highest, perhaps, but you get the drift.
Although this is a seriously remote, uncompromisingly brutal landscape, the remnants of prehistoric settlements are still to be found in the locality (e.g. around Cwm Caseg and east of Foel Grach). Hard to fathom nowadays how people could actually survive here, albeit in the more sheltered valleys..... in fact it is so remote that I'm virtually certain I will not be able to return for further investigation. Ha! I therefore hand on the baton...
Incidentally Garnedd Uchaf was 'officially' renamed 'Carnedd Gwenllian' in 2009 - Gwenllian was, of course, Llewelyn the Last's daughter - so there's clearly an attempt at some pointless political point scoring here way, way after the event. If only we knew the name(s) of those who may well have been interred here millennia ago....