Located some way to the (very) approx north-east of Twyn-y-Post, the cairn at SO0322941117 is the last I manage to see today, or at least positively identify. Once again it is a substantial monument, one well worth the effort in tracking down.
I approach from the great round cairn positioned upon the north-western tip of Cefn Clawdd to the south, my progress monitored somewhat warily by a small group of wild ponies. Inquisitive, at any rate. Guess they don't see many people up here, aside from the quad bike ridin' farmer.... who, incidentally, sees fit to completely blank my acknowledgement of his presence. Bad day, I guess? Whatever.
Two cairns are depicted upon the map set in a rough north/south alignment. As I approach what I assume to be the southern I'm initially a little disappointed. OK, it definitely appears to be a structured cairn... but a little small, don't you think? Jeez, talk about hard to please. In retrospect my assessment is probably a little unfair and, regardless, the cairn certainly looks the part when viewed beneath a fine cloudscape. Unfortunately I can't relate the monument to Coflein records, however.
The northern monument is much more substantial, at least in its surviving form. According to Coflein it is a "low stone cairn, 10m east-west by 8m and 0.3m high on a gentle north-facing slope" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 13/3/09]. Once again the cairn is surmounted by a smaller stone pile raising suspicions of a former cist, perhaps? There is certainly a distinct paucity of walkers in the area. Then again what odds the local ponies have taken to cairn building? OK, I know. But looking into the eyes of those wondrous creatures the intelligence shines through, does it not? The northern outlook is one of undulating hills, that immediately across the cwm forming the bogland of Cefn Gledwen, beyond which, incidentally, is the famous Griffin Inn. So, a fine upland cairn in a great location. Can't say fairer than that.
I return to Upper Chapel via an ultimately unsuccessful 'walkabout' attempt to locate the most north-westerly cairn shown upon the map. However there is much reedy grass in evidence, so don't be too hard on me. Might have found it, might not have .... nothing seemed particularly credible, shall we say? And hey, at least I managed to find the north-western Cefn Clawdd monument. No matter, for as I begin the descent a rainbow arcs above the landscape I've just traversed. It is a spellbinding sight, rooting me to the spot. Lacking the appropriate words, here are some prepared earlier by Mr Wordsworth (but then you knew that) in lieu:
'My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is the father of Man.'
Yeah, not bad. But some things really are too magnificent to be evoked by even such as he.
Blimey. This must be one of the most reclusive major cairns I've come across to date... set in a conspicuous position at the north-western apex of Cefn Clawdd.... yet more-or-less invisible when viewed from Twyn-y-Post owing to a text book application of natural camouflage. Assuming there is a text book specifying 'how to hide a Bronze Age cairn utilising found resources'? Or something similar. Couldn't see it toppling Clive Cussler from the best selling lists myself, but there you are. Then again... anyone know his agent's number? I've an idea...
Nevertheless the great cairn is certainly at the given co-ordinates, sitting upon the low ridge rising beyond the small lake, the latter a handy feature with which the visitor can self-orientate in relation to this somewhat uncompromising landscape. Despite this I'm still not convinced I haven't somehow gone astray until I literally stumble over the outer arc of stonework hidden within the reedy grass (yeah, that again). Ah, there it is. What took us so long to find each other, my unobtrusive friend? In fairness my difficulty in locating the monument appears justifiable since the cairn does not seem - as far as I can determine beneath the vegetation - to have suffered the damaging effects of excavation, no doubt protected from stone-hungry eyes by its organic shield.
Although of no great height, the cairn possesses a significant diameter... "12m..[and].. up to 0.3m high" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 10/2/2009]. There appear to be a number of dishevelled concentric lines of kerbing incorporated within the fabric, perhaps suggestive of a ring cairn? Or then again, perhaps not. Whatever, it is the sheer 'lost world' vibe of the site that makes this, for me, a very special place indeed. Indeed, how can something like this survive, in this day and age, a little over a mile from 'civilisation'? I lie back, drink my coffee and watch a towering cloudscape engaged in a stately, majestic - hey, awe-inspiring - procession across the sky, seeing fit to occasionally deposit some of its content upon the landscape below. Now that's what I call 'atmosphere'.
Time passes by, seemingly imperceptibly, although such a notion is countermanded by the cold data supplied by my watch. A further cairn is said to lie near the 'summit' of Cefn Clawdd some way to the east. I, however, elect to head north past the lake toward Gwaun Ymryson. Some more cairns there, apparently. It is a drag to leave, but there you are.
A 2003 visit to the stone circle at Ynys Hir notwithstanding - and what a palaver that was - I've never ventured upon Mynydd Epynt before. Not that surprising a state of affairs, to be honest, bearing in mind a significant proportion of these Mid Walian uplands is used by the British Army as an artillery range and general training area. Suffice to say that, in my opinion, Bronze Age monuments and the burnt-out hulks of Sexton self propelled guns do not good bed fellows make. However until the dawning of a day when humankind is finally able to settle its differences without resorting to violence - quite possibly an illusory premise - there will always be a requirement for somewhere to train our soldiers. Yeah, it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it. I just wish we'd reserve deployment to protecting these Isles from the many dangerous psychopaths, secular and religious, which infest this world like a cancer.... and not facilitating the likes of Dubya and Blair's lunatic holy crusades.
So why venture to Mynydd Epynt again? Just on a whim, nothing more. A spur of the moment decision made whilst idly scanning the map - something I like to do in my idle moments - having noticed a grouping of cairns east of the small village of Upper Chapel, apparently outside the 'Danger Area'. Hey, what's the worst that can happen? Apart from being blown 20ft into the air by an unexploded shell, that is? The village sits astride the B4520 which, heading north from Brecon, accompanies the Afon Honddu (not to be confused with the other such within The Vale of Ewyas) back toward its source upon Mynydd Epynt. I park beside the 'phone box, as appears accepted local practice, although there is some kind of village hall (I think) across the road, complete with car park. A little to the north a 'dead end' road heads to the right (east), veering left soon after to service Cwm-egli, whilst an increasingly rough track continues the climb. The route, although not steep, proves a bit of a slog; nevertheless in just over a mile I emerge upon the bare uplands of eastern Mynydd Epynt, The Brecon Beacons shining in serried array upon the southern skyline. Very nice.
Although lacking the dominating height, the enigmatic topography of that famous horizon, Twyn-y-Post (1,381ft / 421m) nevertheless possesses that priceless upland vibe, that impossible to define feeling of 'wide open skies' and... well.... space. OK, the harsh staccato reports of machine gun fire, combined with the dull 'crump' of impacting artillery rounds, may occasionally drift upon the breeze from the direction of Sennybridge... but there are no chattering voices to otherwise disturb the peace here, save the loony tune antics of the skylark. Bless 'em.
There would appear to be a trio of monuments located at what, for want of a better term, passes for the summit. The most prominent is a pretty substantial grassy cairn at SO0280440909 measuring "c.10m in diameter and up to 0.4m high" [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 9/2/09)]. Although somewhat trashed, the possible remains of a cist still reside upon the north-western sector featuring some larger stones. A little to the approx south-east (SO0281140899) lies a further cairn - or perhaps ring cairn - which is unfortunately much less well defined. Having said that there remains quite a volume of material in situ, the lack of structural form perhaps resulting from the excavation of a 'geotechnical test pit' during 1993 [Coflein NPRN 247429]. Err.... anyone know what a 'geotechnical test pit' is? Seems to have slipped my mind.
For me the most intriguing of the three sites is located immediately to the approx south at SO0282040886. To be honest first appearances are of a completely grassed-over ring cairn to this layman's eyes, although why that (the grass cover) should be so did seem rather odd, given the exposed upland location. Such misgivings are given retrospective credence by J.J. Hall: "... [it] essentially appears to be an earthwork site, the overall dimensions of which are c.12.5m x 12.5m... It is characterised by a low earth bank, grassed-over and no more than 0.3m high by up to 2m wide at base. The outer bank encloses a hollow, the centre of which is occupied by an earthwork mound.... similarities with the Tir yr Onnen Barrow at Ystradfellte are striking". So, maybe even a small henge, then? As I said, intriguing. So why I neglect to take any images is anybody's guess. Muppet.
Twyn-y-Post has one further cairn to detain the traveller, this located at SO0290040787 and passed en-route to Cefn Clawdd. This is a small affair in comparison with the other monuments I visited, but nevertheless it'd be rude to to stop and have a look. J.J Hall reckons it measures "3m x 2m and up to 0.2m high" with a cist perhaps still residing within? Moving on, there appears to be no sign of the apparent cairn upon Cefn Clawdd at SO0321140542 from distance. However it is depicted upon my 1:50k map... so there's only one way to find out for certain.