Last time on The stone hunters guide to Wales.....
Snow and ice coupled with miles of difficult walking meant the stone hunters missed the freaky settlement site of Maes y Caerau, and it meant they didn't have a really good look at the pair of cairns nestling under the rocks of Y Gyrn, so after three years of tripping elsewhere our intrepid explorers are back in the hills above Harlech for a more in depth look around.
21st May 2016.....
From the A496 a mile north of Talsarnau turn east up hill towards the little but lovely Llyn Tecwyn Isaf pass it by and take the next right, we parked just across the river and walked from there. The map is a bit confusing after here, you could try following the footpaths or just strike out on your own heading for the right side of big and obvious rocky Y Gyrn.
The leaves are back on the trees, the streams are all full of dark water, birds are singing and the weather is trying it's best not to rain on us, as per our request, likable, to say the least.
After much map reading, some serious leg work, spotting the freaky settlement site across a falling stream and a lot of staring at the views we arrive at the two cairns. Map still says there are three cairns, but we can still see only two, the third is either buried or it's some kind of mistake.
I head straight for the higher of the two, it's a nice little kerb cairn with an opened cist at it's centre. One of the two side slabs has fallen inwards obscuring a proper scootch about in there, I cant even tell if the two end slabs are in attendance,
the kerb stones now free of snow stand out much more. Y Gyrn looks like a really good play ground from here, no swings and slides, but rock and boulders, nooks and crannies, distant views and in your face nature.
Over a little stream about a hundred yards is the other cairn, we knew it was a ring cairn but in the snow three years ago that was not very evident but now the ring is naked and brazen and she is showing it all and we can see it all. She is definitely a ring cairn, and one with a view through a gap in the hills to the sea. Why are they always female ?
After butties under a rock shelter with a view of both cairns, and a walk over to Bryn Cader Faner we climb up to the top of Y Gyrn, where a long eye full reveals all three sites, looking down to the ring cairn is as always especially rewarding.
A revisit to these cairns and the freaky settlement site has been high on the list for over three years, now we've done it I can cross them off, it's not a physical list, but excising them from thought should make the whole thing run smoother, just like my lovely car.
I've been to Bryn Cader Faner three times and I always approach from the south west. But this time we tried to come at it via the Y Gyrn cairns, from the west. At this time of year this turned out to be somewhat problematical, snowy and icy roads curtailed progress and I had to park right over by the main road, the A496, adding a couple of miles of tedious road walking.
We tried to avoid the road walking on the way there by taking a footpath over a hill and then back down again, then a bridge over a river. All very pretty, but, it's still not what we came to see. Then the footpaths become a tad indistinct, small streams have to be jumped, even the boggy pooy holes didn't have the decency to freeze, and the snow drifts were really something else, in places at least four feet deep.
Later rather than sooner we get to a place where the way ahead is more obvious, not any easier but more obvious. The big rocky summit of Y Gyrn towers above us, we decide not to venture over to Maes Y Caerau but carry on under the steep cliffs, fortunately some intrepid explorer had been out here before us so we just followed in his footsteps. At one time my legs sunk in a drift up to the hilt but still never touched the floor. It was hard going to say the least.
At last we reach the spot where we've deduced the trio of cairns reside, but only one is obvious there is a maybe but we'll have a look at that one after we've been to BCF. The third eludes us completely.
The obvious one is a little beauty, large boulders define the cairns edge and just off center a ruined cist is to be seen, the two large edges of the cist have fallen in to meet at the middle.
The positioning of the cairns is interesting, nestled under the cliffs of Y Gyrn with only a narrow view of Tremadog bay, but a wide open view of the 623 meter high Moel Ysgyfarnogd.
After an easier more leisurely walk up to the enigma that is Bryn Cader Faner, we walk back down to these cairns, we still cant see the third but the maybe does indeed turn out to be the one were looking for. It is the ring cairn, the one that i've seen pictured elsewhere, but what with all the snow drifting up on it and the gorse bushes growing on it it's not as easy to make out as the nearby kerb cairn, one for a return visit in better weather and armed with my trusty shears. The daylight is quitting our adventure now so we beat a hasty retreat, passing within sorrowful distance of Maes Caerau.
The way back was easier as we elected to stay on the roads, it was a long and tiring walk and it was pitch black by the time we reached the car.