Dawn upon the flanks of Pumlumon makes it clear that visits to Banc Llechwedd-mawr, Drosgol... or even Dinas... will have to wait for another day. Clearly yesterday's weather window, allowing a visit to Pen Pumlumon-Arwystli's cairns, has been comprehensively slammed shut with a vengeance! That's yer lot.
So, what was the name of that hillfort Kammer liked so much, then? OK...nice name.. hopefully a visit here will save the day from going down the proverbial drain. So, a steep, single track road heads south from the A44 towards Ystumtuen, from where an equally minor route heads beneath the transmitter upon Ffynnon Wen to Bwa-Drain farm. Here it is necessary to open a gate to proceed further. This I do, parking beside a field gate proclaiming no entry due to a dangerous excavation of some kind or other. Beyond rise what appear to be quite substantial ramparts of a pretty impressive hillfort. Nice. If only I had the weather to match, instead of this driving, horizontal rain. Then again if I had, I wouldn't be here, would I? Damn the logic, but the sensible part of Gladman is right. Luckily the 'other' part is not so sensible and happy to venture out in the storm....
I head a little way back down the road to the farm and take the short public footpath towards the site, encountering the ruined building Kammer mentions en route. The hillfort is a classic promontory fort, a quite powerful rampart isolating the enclosure from the hinterland to the north, east and west (approx), the gorge of Cwm Rheidol all that was thought - and by any accounts was - necessary to defend the south. And what a gorge! Despite the swirling mist and downpour, the view of The Afon Rheidol looking along the valley to the west is breathtaking, it really is. And to think this splendid river has its source within Llyn Llygad-Rheidol beneath Pen Pumlumon Fawr. Ha! Several handsome ponies eye me suspiciously as I walk the ramparts - as well they might - but clearly decide I can be ignored. So what's new?
A shrill whistle and a stream of smoke - not easy to distinguish from the swirling cloud - announce the arrival of one of Wales' 'little trains' across the cwm, the punters on board no doubt none too pleased at the weather outside. Hey, but perched up here, despite the rain lancing straight into my face to find every minute gap in my defences, I find I have fallen in love with Castell Bwa-Drain. What appear to be natural rocky outcrops look to have been utilsed by the original occupants as additional, outer defences, together with two 'spurs' to the north.
I leave hammered, yet happy. No photos, but then this visit was perhaps something that was supposed to be of the moment. Or something like that.
The road from Ystumtuen to Bwa-Drain farm is gated, so by car it's easier to approach from the north. Don't be put off by the sign saying the road is private. I've checked with Ceredigion County Council, and this isn't the case. You can park near the farm, although there's not much space (make sure you leave enough room for farm traffic to get through).
The footpath that runs past the hillfort starts just to the west of the farm. You cross a strange little wooden bridge over the stream before going through a gate and along the edge of the field. At the corner of the field you're supposed to stay to the north of the trees and keep to the west of the ruined farm house (called Pen-castell), but it's well worth taking a peek at the ruin. It's only a Nineteenth Century building, but its state of decay is fascinating (obviously, don't go inside). After this you pass over a stile and you're in the same field as the fort. The footpath goes to the east of the fort, so at this stage you have to deviate from it. You can't miss the earthen banks of the fort, and there's a gap in the defences orientated in your direction.
The views from the fort are spectacular, especially looking west down the Rheidol valley. You can see the sea, and Aberystwyth, without much difficulty. You can also make out Pendinas with the chimney-like monument on top of it. Look out for steam trains in the valley below you in the summer.
I've posted a rather hazy photo of Pendinas hillfort, taken from Bwa-Drain with a telephoto lense, the point being that there's the potential for people at one site to communicate with the other. There is also intervisibility between Pendinas and Esgair Nantyrarian (SN710817).