A ladder stile leads onto the tussocky lower slopes of Fan Nedd. There is no obvious path and so I’m left to pick a route that is reasonably direct to the summit. Due to time constraints after the lengthy stop at Maen Llia, I’ve decided to abandon a visit to the two cairns on the eastern slopes of the mountain and to concentrate on getting to the top of the mountain. I confess to a certain feeling of unfinished business here. A couple of years ago I came here a matter of hours after Gladman had been (small world). On that occasion the slopes were snow-covered and going was slow. My friend and I made it to the pointy cairn on the ridge in a hailstorm (what is it with these tops and hail?) and very stupidly mistook it for the summit trig point marked on the map. As such, we didn’t reach the summit and I’ve been keen to come back and rectify the error. So today I head straight up the mountain’s eastern flank. This proves to be very hard going, the slope is very steep and the vegetation is ankle-knee deep. Only the occasional stops to look back at Maen Llia, dwindling into a black dot below, and the unfolding view of Fan Llia across the valley, make the ascent anything other than a trial.
But reaching the ridge, close to the trig, the views to the west make up for the aching knees. Once at the summit (663m OD), the views to Fan Gyhirych and Y Mynydd Du are magnificent and far-reaching, clear of the clouds of earlier.
From the summit it’s a fairly easy stroll north along the ridge towards the “pointy” cairn. About halfway along the ridge I come across a recumbent slab, unworked but with a hole drilled in it. No-one is likely to have ever put a fence up here, so perhaps a fallen boundary stone? The pointy cairn is every bit as ludicrous looking as the last time I came here. But what’s this? It rests on a turfed over mound of much greater diameter, with stones protruding through the thin covering. Suspicions start to grow and I get the feeling that the walker-made pyramid conceals something much, much older. The positioning is typically clever, allowing the maximum panoramic view, particularly northwards, absent at the mid-ridge summit. It is certainly similar in construction to the cairn on neighbouring Fan Gyhirych.
[A post-visit Coflein check suggests that the instinct was correct and that these are the remains of a bronze age cairn, positioned with the usual fine attention to detail.]
Actually, it turns out that the ridiculous walkers' cairn (SN91381887) on the north summit is probably built on top of a "proper" one as well. From Coflein:
On a natural shelf on the north side of Fan Hir, overlooking Blaen Senni to the north and the Llia valley to the east, lie the remains of a probable prehistoric burial cairn. Located at around 645m it is now the site of a recently erected marker cairn, 1.8m in diameter and about 2.5m high tapering from base to tip. Beneath and around it is the stony base of an earlier cairn out of which the modern one was built. It measures 7m in diameter and no more than 0.2m high. No structural features are apparent. On OS maps the site is marked simply as 'Cairn' in non-antiquity typeface.