I thought I'd seen them all, all of the sites with that unmistakable 'wow' factor; Brodgar, Callanish, Machrie Moor, Pobhuill Finn, Swinside, we all know them, but then I came here and was blown away all over again, and not by the wind since I had the enviable good fortune to arrive on the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far. Those old weather Gods were smiling on me again; the forecast four days beforehand was so unpropitious (the symbol with a dark cloud and two drops of rain for the whole day) that I foresaw myself having to give it a miss but gradually it improved until I knew that I was going to be blessed with fine weather to make what I anticipated was going to be a bit of a hike. Previous fieldnotes seem to presume a knowledge of the site or an easy competence in map/landscape reading, skills with which I'm totally unfamiliar so although it's pretty obvious from the OS map where it is and how to get there I was still anxious about finding it without more precise guidance. How windy and narrow is the road? Is it easy to park at the end? Is there room to turn round? These are the sorts of questions I want answers to before I set off. Ok, so here's my take; you follow the B4573 through the centre of Harlech until just before it veers left to rejoin the A496; there's a right turn which should be signposted 'Eisingrug' but isn't. Follow that until you reach said hamlet where there's a sign pointing left to Maes-y-neuadd. Take that turning and then almost immediately turn right on to a very narrow single-track road marked as a dead-end. This winds slowly upwards with no real passing-places but eventually arrives at a grassy space just before an open gate with room to park half a dozen or so cars. It would be tempting to take the track just ahead of you but that simply leads to the farm; the correct one is to the right (ie behind you if you've parked on the right) and that eventually goes round in a rough semi-circle until you arrive at a gate with a footpath sign. Although the map shows a path going to the left as the one that leads to the circle, on the ground it's not that apparent with the terrain very churned-up so I followed what I assumed must be the path only to find myself arriving at the little lake Llyn Eiddew-bach. Possibly others have made the same mistake as I was able to make out a reasonably-trodden path that then veered to the left across the bogs and brought me on to the correct path leading directly to the circle. You see it from a fair way away so it's a genuinely thrilling approach. When I got there I was puzzled; in my 'Circles Of Stone' book from 1999 Burl describes it as having been vandalised by 'licentious soldiery' in WW2 with only 15 stones standing on one arc but I counted 26 or so making a virtually complete circle. Has it been restored in the intervening period? Maybe I'm just misunderstanding his description but, whatever, it's stupendously well-sited and unique.
The walk's about half an hour each way; as others have observed, it's tremendously squelchy but so well worth the effort. I went on to see Harlech Circle, Argoth and Diffryn Ardudwy, all wonderful in their own ways but it was the buzz of visiting this memorable monument that stayed with me all day.
Visited today. Some one has decided to 'improve' the site by placing an upright stone in the centre. Considering the time and effort needed to reach it, its incredibly depressing to find it vandalized.
Has it really been nearly four years since my last wander around this no-mans land, yes, yes it has. I was hoping for more snow but in it's place i'll take a rain free day. I say no-mans land because all the times Iv'e been here iv'e never seen another soul. Nice
My new super goretex boots and waterproofs might have come in handy if it was wet but everything was frozen solid and the new parts of the path made it all too easy. No compass, no GPS, I didnt even look at the map, so sure I was of the route, no problems at all.
The stones seemed smaller than I remembered, perhaps it's the bigness of the whole place that tainted my memories.
Amongst the stones we found two letters written by children adressed to the fairies, one was asking how they liked the snow, and whether they were Welsh fairies, the other saying how much they liked their trip into the hills, proof of fairies existence if ever I saw it.
But the reason for this trip was to ascend the big mountain Moel Ysfarnogod, not all the way up mind, just enough to look down on the stone circle/cairn. It was a real treat for the eyes, we started off on the far northern flank and skipped and stumbled across the mountain side as far as Llyn Eiddew Bach, continuously stopping for a breather and to take zooming pictures of the stones with the mountains in the background. Amazingly fantastic. (we also tried to fake a UFO photo using thrown ice chunks, not so fantastic)
I dare say i'll find an excuse to go back up there but hopefully not waiting for four years, in fact I already have, Y Gyrn cairns look and sound quite impressive and less than a klick from B C F.
Nice one Vic
Worth noting that the owner of the land where you park asks for a £2 donation to the Air Ambulance to be left in the postbox on the gate to the metalled track to the lakes.
Some drainage and surfacing work has been done on the direct path, which should make it easier going. However, as we visited in very dry weather, I can't comment on how bad it would be in the wet. This is a very isolated spot in potentially dangerous terrain, so proper equipment and clothing is a must.
You can follow the metalled track to the lakes then keep going along the higher ground to opposite the site, which reduces both height lost in crossing the valley and the amount of distance taken through bogs. However, the ground is rocky and there are some springs.
I go here often as its relatively near to my home, last time I visited was on the 3rd of September 2009.
It was one of those stormy, rainy days, been home most of the day, week in fact as it was unbeleivably wet for this time of year. Going stir crazy, I decided to head off to the hills, camera gear in tow and the dog to keep me company.
On the way up I met two guys who'd been up, walked past it for some time before realising. Halfway up, a storm started, but soon cleared and skies started clearing by the time I reached the Stones.
The light was good, and found some good points to photograph from. The gods where with me that day, but I forgot my usual offering to leave behind at the stones, so when I reached back home that evening I found i'd "lost" a few things, a lens cap and a camera release cable. Serves me right for visiting empty handed, so let that be a lesson to you all, take an offering or bad luck will befall you!
First visited this wonderful site in February 2001.... perhaps not the best time, so I immediately put it on the 'list to visit again one day'. As you do.
The opportunity arose in 2005, only for Moel Ysgyfarnogod to call me the louder during a supposed window in the weather - I actually had my lip cut by hailstones that day, but that's another story. Anyway, finally made it back last week, actually managing to find the obscure left fork from the main track (see the link directions) and - to be honest - more than happy I'd taken this walk seriously and worn my Gortex boots, since this direct path possesses some SERIOUS bogs indeed. So much so that there is, in my opinion, a good case for heading straight to Llyn Eiddew Bach and cutting onto the direct track that way, particularly since this wonderful cairn-circle is clearly visible on the skyline at lakeside. This would mean missing out on the little Llyn Eiddew Bach 'circle, however.... so perhaps doing the outward leg via the llyn - so easing any navigational problems - and squelching back via the direct path is the best compromise.
By whatever route you get to Bryn Cader Faner I guarantee a true stonehead will not be dissapointed. On a reasonably clear day the mountains of central Snowdonia rear up behind, while the northern Rhinogydd - arguably Wales' roughest terrain - tower above in a manner that can only be described as brutal in the extreme.
Time flies here, my anticipated 2-3 hour visit turning into an extended 5 hour hang since I simply could not leave. Just the one mountain biker passed by in all that time.... needless to say he didn't stop.
Incidentally when nearing the car on the return leg you have the most superb view of the Dwyryd Estuary laid out before you. An opportunity to divert a little to the left and ponder a while......
The first time I came here I was armed only with an OS map and in the fog I got hopelessly lost .
Second time with map compass and GPS I found it just fine .
This time map and memory sufficed .I parked where fourwinds did, and always have, I took my bike this time .
It's not easy to find, the hills and mountains are a bit samey and the paths aren't marked ,I pushed my bike most of the way, and when the path got boggy I tried a new way of my own, big mistake, at one time I was wading knee deep struggling with my bike , always stick to the path no matter what and keep your head up so you can see the path or you'll wander and believe me you don't want that.In the end I was on a small hill and saw the cairn in the distance, sucsess. (of a sort)
Last time I was here it was a bit foggy but this time it was beautiful wonderful views all around .The stones seemed to glisten in the sunlight I sat down and enjoyed this place whilst I dried off , I can't beleive how badly this place has been treated, the army used it as target practice, Ignorant b******s.
Its a lonely place up here in bad weather it could be a bit scary , I wondered whether to rename it's builders from the Ancients to the Crazies .
It was time to go and I heeded my own advice and stuck to the path it took no time at all to get back I even managed to spot Llyn Eiddaw-Bach on the way . I may come back here many times ,though maybe in the summer heat next time (though snow would be cool)