I guess it's pretty much a fundamental human tendency to seek pleasurable experiences now... rather than later. Yeah, why wait until tomorrow if you can have what you want today? 'If not now, when?' In general a sound enough lifestyle maxim, provided one is never obliged to take it to such a devastating apogee as was Primo Levi. However there are occasions - visiting ancient sites, for example - when I'd recommend a little more reticence, the application of a degree of self-control to refrain from rushing from place to place simply to be able to say 'I was there'. Take along a foam mat, chill out, enjoy the moment and let the subconscious do it's weird and wondrous stuff. Do justice to somewhere you might never frequent again. More often than not these days I find time has run out and I need to return another day to see the remainder of an unrealistic itinerary. The hallmark of a successful visit, in my opinion.
Such as yesterday's experience at the nearby stone circle upon Waun Lwyd. Shouldn't have been an issue to make the relatively short diversion to Garn Glas and bag another couple of upland cairns. But it was. Hence I find myself (once again) driving alongside the fast flowing, nascent Afon Tawe, beneath the Maen Mawr and its diminutive petrified charges, toward the prosaically named Bwlch Cerrig Duon. Entering Glasfynydd Forest, I take the first left to descend steeply into Cwm Meity, veering left again to dwellings at Caerllwyn. Here a dead-end road shadows the Afon Hydfer to the west toward its terminus overlooked by the isolated farmhouse of Blaneau Uchaf. I manage to park some way before the gate and walk to the footbridge adjacent to a ford. An idyllic scene, even when viewed under what are clearly fast deteriorating conditions. An obvious track heads southward through Cwm yr Afon beside the west bank of the river. My blind assumption - not for the first time - is incorrect, the bridleway actually climbing above and to the west of Blaneau Uchaf. But there you are, the navigational error duly rectified a little later by way of a steep climb to the summit of Twyn Perfedd. Serves me right.
Having negotiated a gate I'm almost immediately placed in a quandary. Yeah, two cairns are visible, one apparently reached by following the ridge line to approx south, the other located upon the hillside rising above a prominent gulley cradling the Nant Tarw. So, which to visit first? Needless to say I choose the hardest option, the northern of the pair (to the left of a large sheepfold). Wrapped up against the fierce wind it proves a sweaty struggle. But well worth the effort, the cairn revealed to be a substantial, well defined monument carefully located below the crest of the ridge. What's more with a sweeping, northern vista toward Mynydd Myddfai and Mynydd Bach Trecastell. No paucity of prehistory up there, it has to be said. Nearer to hand the fledgling Nant Tawr, bolstered by months of heavy rain, makes its uncertain way to the eponymous stone circles beneath the (apparently) cairn-crowned Foel Darw. Yeah, corporeal reminders of the previous inhabitants of Y Mynydd Du are not exactly lacking here, either. It is tempting, perhaps with good reason, to assign a connection imbued with inherent meaning between stream and the great cairn I sit upon. However any attempt to formulate a rational definition with fronts of hail sweeping in from the cloud-wreathed summits of Fan Foel and Bannau Sir Gaer is probably a non-starter. Coherent thought as overwhelming bursts of sunlight afford a glimpse of some other aesthetic dimension? You're having a laugh.
The southern cairn is visible some way away, attained by way of a soggy tramp across wild moorland. Less well defined than its neighbour, it is nevertheless a substantial monument - albeit of low elevation - incorporating a significant volume of stone. Hey, perhaps even retaining the remnants of a cist within? Perhaps. Upon a clearer day the dominating high summits of Y Mynydd Du rising to the south would no doubt add a further aspect to the scene. Today cloud holds them in a clammy embrace which only momentarily releases its grip, and then with apparent extreme reluctance. However the uncompromising vibe speaks volumes regardless. Cold, very wet, with a suggestion of claustrophobia, what with such a weight of cloud bearing down overhead. However this is a good place to be. A good place to have saved for a rainy day, so to speak.
The inclement onslaught begins to penetrate my ageing jacket. Too late I wish I'd had a bit more forethought and worn my new one. It is therefore with typical predictable mountain irony that the cloud base fractures to a fine evening.... more or less as soon as I begin my descent back to the car.
Two cairns on Garn Las ("The Blue Cairn"), above Nant Tarw. Coflein descriptions:
Cairn I (SN82872499)
Located on a gently sloping natural shelf on the side of a ridge. It measures 10m in diameter and 1m high on the downhill (N) side,0.5m high on the uphill side. The mound is composed of mixed grade stones consolidated with turf. The centre is marked by a shallow hollow 2m across and 0.2m deep.
Cairn II (SN82782476)
A cairn (1 of 2) located on the top of a ridge measures 18m in diameter and 0.9m high. It is composed of loose stones turfed over only around the edges. A large slab embedded in the cairn, SW of centre, possibly represents the site of a cist.