A short distance south west of Pant Clyd cairn off the A494. On private land owned by Dolddeuli Farm. Right up against the disused railway embankment.
I had previously attempted to visit this stone a couple of times over the years but could never find the right turn off. Driving slowly along the busy A494 looking for a small turning is not as easy as it sounds! However, it was early evening in early Spring and I had the chance of a lift in a transit van so I was hopeful that this year I would succeed. Succeed I did but it was still not that easy………..
It took a while to find the correct turning, much looking at map and scratching of head required. Once we identified the turning and drove up the narrow lane under what would have been a railway bridge I still couldn’t see the stone. I expected it to come into view immediately to my right but the farm house and out buildings put a stop to that. We continued along the lane past the farm and uphill into woodland. I peered across the fields next to the farm but still couldn’t spot the stone. We turned around and drove back to the farm.
We pulled up outside and the farmer (who viewed us with much suspicion) came out to meet us. (I can’t say I blame him as we were strangers driving around back lanes in a transit van – there is a lot of countryside crime). I showed him my map and explained what I was looking for. He didn’t seem convinced. I kept up the chatter and he said the stone could be viewed from the lane we had just driven along but there was no access to it as it is on private land – his!
At this point I said I would walk up the lane behind his form and try to spot the stone from there as it was something I had wanted to see for some time. At this point his demure started to change and he said that if I was that keen to see the stone he would escort me to the stone through the farm yard. We headed past the buildings and barking dogs and out into the field beyond – which had several sheep in it. The stone (at last) soon came into sight. It is in a square fenced area built into the side of the railway embankment – no wonder I couldn’t see it! The stone is approximately 5ft high x 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep. Squared off in shape. It was covered in green, white and orange lichen – quite pretty really.
Upon complimenting him on ‘his’ fine stone he became more friendly and chatty. He told me that years ago his uncle owned the farm and had dug to the bottom of the stone to see if anything was there? He reported that the stone was in the ground to a depth of about 2ft but he could find nothing buried beneath it. He also said that there was another standing stone built into a dry stone wall on the hillside to the north east which lines up with this stone. He said the other stone doesn’t appear on any map but it is there. (He also built dry stone walls for a living) When he took over the farm the stone was totally grown over but he cleared away the vegetation.
An amusing tale he told me was his late uncle never had to buy any coal for the fire as he came up with the idea of placing a bottle on top of the stone. Apparently when the railway was in use bored rail workers used to throw lumps of coal at the bottle to try to hit it. Each evening he would go out with a bucket and collect the coal for the fire. If they actually managed to knock the bottle off his simply put it back on top of the stone ready for the next day! This all came to an end with the Beeching rail closures.
He said he still used the stone to train his sheep dogs. The small enclosure the stone stands in was just right for shepherding the sheep into and also for training the dog to manoeuvre the sheep around the stone. The sheep also use the stone as a rubbing post and keep the grass trim around it.
We headed back to the van and he recalled many stories of historical ‘finds’ discovered over the years by farmers around the nearby hills and valleys. We parted on very good terms, something which didn’t seem likely when I first arrived!
If you do plan a visit I suggest you either try to view from the lane behind the farm or ask permission. This is not a place where a ‘sneak visit’ would be advised.
Half way between Bala and Dolgellau, just off the A494, the other side of a disused railway embankment.
Only a short walk from the car, through one gate, over the embankment and there it is right beneath us. The fence around the stone goes off course just to keep it on farmland side rather than the railway, there were sheep with little lambs in the stones field so we heeded the barb wires spikyness and kept away.
The stone is smooth and rounded and about four and a half feet tall, due to Error99 on the camera I was restricted to my zoom lens which doesnt really let you get in close to the stone. Dolddeuli farm is close by to the north, but we were in and out, quick and unseen. Hot and sticky, tired and knackered, but what a great day out.