This is a real ‘pig of a place’ to visit – an O/S map is definitely required.
Upon reaching the former mining village of Ferndale (on the A4233), I eventually found the correct minor road heading north, then east out across Cefn Gwyngul. I shortly arrived at a small parking place which is (optimistically) marked as a ‘viewing point’ on the O/S map. I decided to leave the car here and continue on foot along the road until I reached the track on the left which leads to the aerial transmitter. It is in fact possible to park at the gated entrance to this track.
Although the sign on the gate states vehicular traffic is prohibited, there was no mention of walkers/public, so in I went. My O/S map shows this as a track running through forestry so I was looking forward to a pleasant walk through the trees. Unfortunately, since the map was printed the trees have been ‘harvested’ and the area is now one of destruction. Although to be fair the whole area has been re-planted with conifer saplings, so in time it will recover.
The track is well made and fairly flat, it takes about 20 minutes to reach the end of the track where a second gate blocks the way. This information sign on this gate is a little more interesting. It warns that when the red flag is flying clay shooting is in progress and you must keep to the path. I of course wanted to go off-path and there were not one but two red flags flying! However, judging by the state of the flags it looked to me that they were left flying at all times. Also, there was no one about so I decided to take a chance and go through the gate and head off-path and up hill.
At this point I had the choice of heading up hill either to the left or right of the barbed wire fence. I chose the left side (mistake) and it was a long, difficult walk through the spiky grass. Luckily the weather had been fine recently and although the ground was spongy it was pretty dry. In wet weather it would have been a complete bog. As I rose higher it became increasingly difficult to make my way through the grass / gorse. Towards the summit I came to another barbed wire fence which I had to carefully climb over. At this point I could see the trig and I headed directly for it as the O/S map shows it has been built directly on top of the cairn.
The weather was hot and the sky blue. I was hot/bothered/sweaty by the time I arrived at my destination and was grateful to sit down with my back resting against the trig. I must have smelt a bit at this stage judging by the number of flies taking an interest in me!
As for the cairn itself, there is very little to say. A very low stony mound mostly covered in spiky grass. It is one of those places that you would walk right past if you didn’t know it was here. COFLEIN state: ‘A plough damaged cairn, 11.3m in diameter and 0.6m high, structural features have been suggested’. This short description pretty much sums the site up. The only other thing to add is the view.
To the south, the valley scarred by both old industry (mining) and new industry (wind turbines) The view to the north however is far more pleasant. There are good views out across the valleys and the distant Brecon Beacons beyond.
After eating my well earned banana it was time to head back to the car. As it was such a difficult walk up the hill I decided to walk down the hill on the other side of the fence. This proved much easier as there was a ‘path’ most of the way and I didn’t have to climb back over the barbed wire fence. Again, in wet weather, this would have been a complete nightmare as it would have been no more than a bog.
I quickly reached the proper track and headed back to the car. I then made my biggest mistake. Instead of continuing the way I came I decided to come off track and head directly through the newly planted trees to the car, which I could see far below me. At first all was fine but as I approached the car the dreaded gorse was much more in evidence and I then walked into a bog. Knee height in black, stinking water! It was too late now so I squelched my way through and, after climbing over another barbed wire fence, reached the safety of the road. It was a nightmare. I had to drive home in completely soaked, stinking boots. Just as well this was the ‘last hurrah’ for the boots as I was planning on buying a new pair before my Scottish adventures next week anyway. When I arrived home I stopped the car, took them off, and chucked them in the bin!
Why do we do what we do? Was it worth it? 50 mile round trip, 2 barbed wire fences, up to my knees in bog water and all to see – well, very little at all as it turned out. Still, I am sure I will feel a lot more upbeat when I am heading to Scotland on Saturday!
Carn-Y-Pigwn is not one to recommend, unless you are an obsessive and/or a masochist or TSC!.