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Fieldnotes by postman

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Esslie the Greater (Stone Circle)

Wow, It's taken me soooo long to get up to the Esslie's, I've wanted to come here for years, and now that i'm here i'm really quite giddy and giggly. But the two things I'm taking home with me most is the view to the west-ish, it is a very good view a long view of Aberdeenshires rolling hills, and the other thing is that there is so much going on within the circle, the circle stones, recumbent and flankers are all present and correct but I didn't really know that most RSC's have ring cairns in them. Sunhoney, Midmar Kirk, Easter Aquhorthies, none of them seem to have them, unless they're underground or just gone, so after over twenty years of stone hugging, I'm still learning.

Midmar Kirk (Stone Circle)

No field notes for seven and a half years, I reckon I can think of something to say.
I haven't been here for well over a decade, before even my getting a digital camera, I got the big orange book saw what things were like in Aberdeenshire and came more or less straight away, spurred on by absurdly perfect sites with wonderful names like Sunhoney, Balgorkar and Midmar Kirk, being a massive Star Trek fan I'm drawn to anything with Kirk in it's name. So here I am again, a place so splendid I could be on the bridge of the Enterprise, the kids have elected to stay in the car, my only company is my dog Mia, some birds, mine own thoughts and a host of dead people .
Even without Burls help I can tell that at least one of the stones is in the wrong place, but I don't really care much at all, because the recumbent and flankers are the best in the world, argue with me I dare you, they are just mind blowing, perhaps they're even responsible for my entire state of being, I was normal once you know.
Cope likened it to the top of Batman's cowl, I think, I wont liken it to anything except stone setting precision madness, I like it a lot.
What can I say about the churchyard in which it now finds itself, it's better than a barbed wire encased field that's for sure, it's quiet, peaceful, thought provoking, and lovely, are the grave stones too close? perhaps, but that is possibly inescapable in a place like this.
I keep reminding myself to go and look for the tall slender standing stone, about thirty yards north of the church in the trees, one of the few places better to find a prehistoric site than a churchyard is in some woods, these are nice woods, small, but nice.
Upon my return to home, I look on here and find that someone has described Midmar kirk thus.....How can a stone circle feel, well, 'creepy'? Just superimpose one nihilistic death cult and all its paraphernalia, that's how. Sorry, can't feel 'respect' for something that shows no respect itself. And I must make a comment of my own, Respect? at least the stone circle is still here, that's fairly respectful, isn't it? and calling Christianity nihilistic is a bit like saying that Tim Vine doesn't know any jokes, perhaps he's unsure what nihilistic means, sure, some religions have made mistakes in the past, who hasn't? no one and nothing is perfect. But those recumbent and flankers show an inkling of what perfection may look like.

Nine Stanes (Stone Circle)

My real target was the pair of Esslie circles, but seeing as it was so close I just had to have a look at this one too, best decision I made all day.
The Nine stanes of Garrol wood are really close to the road, so the kids decided to let me go on up alone, Mia the dog had other ideas so she joined me.
I don't half like stone circles that are hiding out in the trees, it lends a tremendous dose of atmosphere to any site. OK, they are conifer trees, planted by us to some unagreeable end, but they're still better than gorse. Lots of trees have recently been felled opening out the view somewhat, but what is left behind isn't pretty, not at all.
That ugliness is well off set by one of the best stone circles I've ever been to. There are quite a few stone circles that have somehow accrued the name Nine stones, but this is one of those rare occasions when someone who could count named the site. But the name is still so general that I'm surprised there isn't a stone circle somewhere that's called stone circle.
The stones are a lovely reddish granite, the recumbent still has both it's flankers, but one is having a lie down, six remaining circle stones makes nine, well done that man.
From the circle I can see Eric sat on the roof of my car, not ideal but I can stay in touch whist being in this other world, and that's how this place feels to me, another world, this has been a bit of a crap year for me, packed with such nasties as heart attacks, tax credit disputes, overworked underpaid and my old nemesis Sciatica, but whilst I potter about this ideal location it's all a billion miles away from it all.
After sitting on the recumbent with dog sitting quietly in lap for what I can only assume was too long Eric shouted me back to reality, it seemed my Garrol wood experience was over, but the reality that awaited me was a good one, Esslie's the Greater and lesser await my company, two more names that keep rattling round my noggin, beckoning me on, the show aint over til the last names done.

Glassel (Stone Circle)

I parked up the road from the Glassel house main entrance, and started off up the track into the forest. Like everyone else we found the route very difficult to traverse, the deep ruts of the track were full of water and about half a dozen trees barred the way, at the end of the track I had no idea where to go, the map was still in the car, very useful, I wracked what's left of my brain and didn't come up with a great deal. A large clearing had tree stumps that looked like stones, I resisted Eric's temptation to go in and have a look, instead we took the dogs along the river, away from the forest track the going was much easier, the path we were following was quite worn, I was feeling hopeful. To our right was the river, to our left was a high bank, I mentioned my worry that the stones might be up the bank but from down here we could walk straight past it without ever spotting it. So I went up for a quick look, and there they were, maps, directions, who needs 'em.

This was another of those sweet little stone circles set within trees, the dappled light flicked across the small clearing, trees creaked in the breeze, Mia the Jack Russell pottered about the site unsupervised, whilst Arthur, same breed, sat with Eric who now and then yelled like a Bigfoot, Oooooooowhoooooooooo! No reply.

This stone circle is even more of a conundrum than Image wood from whence we've just come, in appearance it looked to me more like the Viking long ship stone settings they have in Scandawegia.
Burl calls it a four poster, with a very close outlier, Greywether suggests inlier.
Four stones are very much like a four poster, but then there's two low stones at one side three yards away is another flat stone, and there's that inlier, a variant recumbant stone circle, half way between RSC and 4 poster, is another theory, neither is very convincing, and then there's that old photo with another stone a standing.

One could sit and ponder what it is we have here for quite some time, and still not know. So we sit a while and listen to the birds, photograph the stones and then say goodbye.
Totally unwilling to go back the forest track way, where death by forest track is a definite worry, we follow the wee path by the river, it leads directly to the road right next to where it crosses the river. This is the route you should take, much easier.

Image Wood (Stone Circle)

The OS grid reference number is out slightly, the real grid ref is NO 524990.

I didn't know a great deal about this stone circle, in fact only the name of the place had stuck in my mind, Image wood, funny name, how did it get to be called that? The Scots have a wicked sense of humour when it comes to naming places, anyone who comes up with a place name like Twatt, twice, clearly should be in charge of naming places.

I didn't park near the cemetery, I parked on the B9094, where the Deeside way footpath crosses it. I did have a look down the long straight driveway up to the big posh place called the Mains of Aboyne, north of the circle, but there's no way to it that way, it's slightly further than parking by the cemetery, but I'm new here and making it up as I go along.

The woods are very pretty, light and airy, paths go all over the place, picking the one I hoped went in the right direction wasn't easy, I got it hopelessly wrong and ended up mostly guessing my way there, but get there I did, eventually.
Canmore calls it a four poster, of that i'm fairly dubious, mostly because there's five stones, but also because Burl says there's a couple of missing stones, but Burl also goes on to say that it could be a folly built by the big house just north of here.

What ever the reality is behind this circle, one thing for sure is that it's a good looking site. Sites up on a hill with great views is only just in front, in my mind, to a nice secluded woodland site.
Lovely place.

Hafodygors Wen (Ring Cairn)

It's been quite warm and cloudless for several days now and I'm beginning to think this years summer solstice sunrise might actually happen, when I left the house the sky was clear and by no means dark, even at 3am.
It's been two and a half years since I was last here and I really wanted to have a look and make sure the gorse bush removal scars had healed, I've also had an equinox sunrise and a winter solstice sunrise (too cloudy) so just a summer sunrise to go and I've got a full hand.
But more miraculous than sunshine and heatwaves in North Wales, my Sciatic back has finally given up making my life hell and returned to the normal background pain of before.

After taking the wrong turn by the pub in Tal y Bont and ending up near Cerrig Pryfaid, I had to turn about, retrace my journey back and then up the right road, lots of hairpin bends on the right road, note to self.
Parked in the usual place, by the gate, followed the same wall down to the river, which is easily crossed in this heatwave, then the squelchy bit up to the stones. Just in time too, thanks to that miss turn I only very just made it in time.
I get the camera out and prepare to capture this particular stellar moment, but I'm too out of breath and just plain knackered, so I rest for 30 seconds have a drink and then set about the sunrise with some gusto. It's a perfect sunrise, a big lazy orange ball heaving itself out of the sea and into the sky. I didn't even realise til now that I could see the sea. It's really quite warm in the hills today, and that's not something I often say, it is a beautiful gorgeous day and I cant think of a better way to start the day, though it actually started a couple of hours ago, but still.

Back to the sun rising out of the sea on the solstice, that happens at the Druids circle too, on the equinox the sun rises from behind a medium sized hill at both sites, on the winter solstice the Druids circle sees a sunrise from behind a mountain, ie Tal y Fan, I wonder if the winter solstice from Hafodygors Wen also rises behind a mountain ie Moel Eilio, guess I'll have to have another crack at the midwinter skive off work day, wont I.
Enough of the skies now, looking down at the stones, I'm extremely heartened to see that there is no sight of any gorse bush removal scar, completely healed so it has, like they were never there at all.
All the place needs now is a little car park, at the gate where I've parked, a path, I'll say it again, a path, a proper one down to the river, where a proper group of stepping stones takes you over the river and up to the stones by the driest route. Then again scratch all that they'd probably put a fence round the stones and put up an information board in an inappropriate place.
Not to my stones your not.

Chatton Camp (Hillfort)

In between Chatton hill rock art panels, and the amazing Kettley crag is this smart little hill fort, well, I think it's smart, so I'm quite staggered that no ones added any pictures or the site.
The entrance faces south east and on the left side of the entry looking in there is some large chunks of masonry. Two substantial concentric banks with at least one hut circle surviving within. Also within the fort is another rock art panel, apparently dubbed Chatton 4, a very large ring has been carved, next to it a line of quarrying holes, but after seeing picture 80 by Pebbles I can see that there was more there than the big ring, so not only am I crap at finding the art panels I'm also crap at looking at them.
I think I'll stick mainly to big stones, circles and cairns, so i'll start with a toddle down the hill to Kettley crag rock art panel.

Chatton (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Like everyone else I mainly came to see Kettley crags amazing rock art but got so much more for my money.
The parking place now has no long shed at all, black or otherwise, I also never saw any information board, but I wasn't looking for one.
A stile leads one into the first field, there was a poor little lamb stuck under it, Eric tip toed over it then wriggled free and ran off, I joined Eric and we tramped up the hill towards a gate and another stile.
Soon enough we started coming across many rocks and stones, we looked hard, at every sheet of rock and every boulder we came across, but inbetween the car and the trig point we only found the one panel, a very poor performance, if I were a football team I would've lost 8-1, if I were an American president I'd have got impeached. In my defence, there's very little rock art any where near where I live, so i'm more used to looking for big stones, circle and cairns, some of the carvings are quite worn, the light was very bright and not conducive to viewing faint carvings, I cant believe that one myself, either way the big white rock sheet was the only one I found, out of maybe a dozen, very poor. I did find a hillfort no else seems to care about though.

Whinny Hill (Stone Circle)

The rock art fraternity have well represented the prehistoric artwork across the road at Chatton hill and Ketley crag, but not one of them have posted anything about this stone circle, ok, it's not on the map but surely I cant be the first to get here?
Tearing through Chatton wee village on the B6348, look out for the parking place to go up Chatton hill, pass it by at speed and continue until you see a right turn at a long gated farm type track, parking room for one.
Strangely, Eric stayed in the car and my daughter Phil came with me, Two locked gates have to be knocked down, I mean climbed over, the track is long and straight and heads for some conifer trees. At the trees turn left through or over yet another locked gate, remember to fume and swear, this is a public footpath.
It was here at this locked gate that I realised I'd left my map in the car, or dropped it on the way down the track, I thought for a second and remembered all the map and google earth perusing I'd done prior to my arrival, even though it was over a mile from the road I was fairly confident of finding it without the map.
So, straight down the track to the confer trees, turn left and follow the path, green fields to the right, open moorland with stone curlew for added drama to the left. As you slowly go up hill, try to aim for the sharp angle of the north tip of Ros hill wood. Eventually we arrive at a wall, over the wall is a small but pretty lake, also not on the map.
Standing by the wall, I knew we close, look left and up hill, can I see a couple of stones peeping over the low but all covering heather, yes indeed I can, move in closer. Philli has come dressed for somewhere other than where we are and declines the opportunity to gaze upon the stones up close, like, so she sits by the wall and watches her dad wander off in the direction of those very interesting stones again.

Because of a single report of two stone holes found here, other reporters have presumed this is something other than a typical four stoner stone circle, but to my fully opened eyes this is absolutely what it looks like, a four poster.
The two big stones are really quite extraordinary stones, the star stone is perhaps a sandstone, red in colour and triangular in section, the sharp end of the triangle points uselessly at open moorland, or perhaps not. The other big stone is grey in hue, bulbous and cracked with dimples. The two smaller stones are, well, smaller, and less noteworthy, they could be larger than they look. One of the more ground hugging stones is about a yard away from a large hole, a hole that is situated perfectly to take up the final corner of the square, er, circle. It cant be anything other than a stone that has somehow come out of place.
The view is very commendable, Chatton hill and it's wealth of rock art and hill fort, the North Sea away over the hill, just visible, and the distant Cheviot hills, and nearer to is the pretty lake, framed with heather surmounted by forest. Whooooop!

I like four posters, and Northumberland.
Off to the seaside we go.

Pen Maen Wern (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Probably best to combine a visit with Waun Lydan standing stone one mile east, I approached from that direction, but I cant say whether it's the best way up.

So, the walk starts easily enough at Waun Lydan standing stone, Idwal says the way is pathless tussocky grass but surprisingly dry underfoot, I would go along with all that but I'd also add that the place looked to be totally devoid of life, no birds, no insects, nothing, just one mad postman stumbling round muttering to himself. The mutterings were mostly, god! where is it? how much further? and am I nearly there yet?
I couldn't see the stone from my start point so with limited help from map and compass I just aimed at something in the way and make it up from there, it was further than I anticipated, I nearly turned back, the only thing that kept me going was, you'll have to come back another time, and I really wanted to avoid that, this hill, not the whole place.
Nearing the top of the hill, for that is where the stone is, I could now see that the black shapes i'd seen from afar was extensive rock outcropping, which was nice. Among the rocks I could see the stone, massive sigh of relief intermixed with gasping for air and then I thought, what if it's a trig point? I am on top of a hill, I decided that if it was, and I couldn't see the stone from there, then screw it I'm going home.
Fortunately it was the standing stone, and it was a beauty.
Like it's not very near neighbour, it is wearing a ground protecting wire mesh skirt, which seems to be working well, and the views again are extensive, to be expected on top of a hill. One mile north is Claerwen dam where land rovers climb, but thats a different show.
There is far more quartz in this stone than it's neighbour, it is almost all perfectly white, like a covering of soft, refreshing snow. It is very lovely.
When I got there, there was two things that had been placed next to and on the stone, on top of it was a rams skull, complete with long curly horns, it was quite heavy so I didn't take it home, but I couldn't leave it on top of the standing stone so I put it on another smaller stone close by, it could still see the standing stone and perform any stone protecting from there. At the foot of the stone was a framed photo of a bunch of paratroopers next to their plane, perplexing, did they all die in a crash here in the last two years? did one of them die in action and this was a place he loved? who knows, it was better than some of the tat you see left at some Wiltshire sites.
On a nicer day with less wind and time to spare, this would be a good place to sit and relax some, but I have to go, right now, so channeling the spirit of tough as nails soldiers everywhere I set off across this grassy desert at a quick march, which then turned into a yomp, and then ended as it always does as a stumbling stagger.

Waun Lydan (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Driving south on the west side of Caban Coch reservoir, look for the end of the lake, there is a left turn by a telephone box and a small car park, if your a good boy, park there and walk all the way, it is a long way.
But if like me, your a naughty boy, take the left turn by the phone box, cross the bridge, turn right and proceed through the Rhiwnant farm yard, real quiet like.
A number of gates have to be got through and it's about here where you'll decide that the track has become way too rough and you should have left the car way back there. Unperturbed I left my watch daughter looking after the car, at the end of a long stand of conifers, and started the long walk up hill.

Proceeding up the track the nearest hill right in front of you is the one you want, the track will look like it's taking you away from where you want to go, passing the car mostly buried by house bricks, wait for the track to split in two, ignore both tracks now and just keep going up, up and a bit more up til you can see the stone.
Avery nice stone is this Waun Lydan, it's about 6ft tall, vaguely triangular in shape from two sides. At the bottom of the stone it is wearing a wire mesh skirt, is this stone a girl then? or, more likely, is it protecting the stones nether region from snuggling sheep, probably the latter.
Most noteworthy are the quartz seems, orange and white ribboning all over the stone, actual crystals are pooling in places, very nice.
The views from the stone are quite extensive, to be expected from the top of a hill, north, and east are the reservoirs, south are bigger hills like Drygarn Fawr, west is the distant rock strewn hill top of Pen Maen - Wern, site of another stone, even more quartzy than this one. To Pen Maen-Wern we go then.

Beddau Folau (Chambered Cairn)

On the east side of the Garreg-ddu reservoir there is a small wooded waterfall with room for two or three cars to park, as already mentioned by Gladman. Walk back south down the road til you come to the path, a sign states it is a bridleway but I cant imagine many folk take their horses up there, that would be bordering on animal cruelty, like riding round on it's back isn't.
The temptation is to follow the stream up but it is impassable, the bridleway is the way. It's pretty steep going, many pauses were had, and one lie down. Once over a rocky outcrop the path levels out, crosses the small river, the Afon Dolfolau, then heads straight off into the hills.

I knew it was close to the footpath, but I didn't know it was that close, if your wandering round with your eyes on the hill tops you will fall over it.
After picking myself up I scampered away up the heather covered outcrop right next to the cairn to have an over view of the site, something one has to do, surely. It's well worth the twenty yard detour.
Back at the cairn and I'm having another lie down inside the monument, it's stone, grass, earth and ants nest was surprisingly comfy so I closed my eyes for a while, then I remembered my daughter is in the car waiting for me and it took longer than expected to get here, so I arise creaking from my near slumber and set about the place with my camera, it's very photogenic from most sides.
I wont describe the site, photos do that best, but I will pile a bit of scorn on the Ordnance survey for calling this a cairn, it's much more, so, scooooooorn.

Crugian Bach Cairn(s)

Not including Ty'n Y Graig, Craig Cnwch cairn with cist, there are three cairns here, one a low stoney grassy mound north of the path by a pair of stones. The other two are left of the path that you might take to Crugian Bach stone circle, both have more exposed stone than the lowest of the three, but not much in the way of cists. Good views of valley and hills, cant see the reservoir from here, but I can see where Rhos y Gelynnen stone row is, away west.

Craig Cnwch (Standing Stones)

From the south west corner of the woods by The Clyn farm house strike out on the well defined footpath/bridleway south west, first you'll come to a low grassy cairn, about fifty feet further west is a clump of tall reedy grass which is trying and failing to hide these two big stones.
So Coflein are calling this a stone setting are they? the most non committal naming of a site, ever.
A stone setting, yes, there are stones, two in fact, but a setting? does that not mean they have been purposely set in this position. They look like they are still awaiting their uprighting rather than having fallen.
Both stones are fairly squarish in section, one stone is much bigger than the other and would look good as a recumbent stone up in Aberdeenshire. These two are not the only prostrate stones in the area, there are more over the hill closer to the stone circle of Crugian Bach, some mentioned by Coflein some not, but all are hiding in tall reedy grasses. Bother. There are also two other stone rows less than four kilometers away. Brilliant.

Ty'n Y Graig, Craig Cnwch (Cairn(s))

Leaving Elan village on the small road to Llanwrthwl take the even smaller lane south to the Clyn. Either walk all the way up, or drive up to the south west corner of the trees, by a gate and park there.
I'm not quite sure why this site isn't grouped together with the other three Crugian Bach cairns, does having a half decent cist afford one ones owns site, apparently.
From the gate by the trees follow the path south east, passing a low cairn and a pair of fallen stones, the cairn we're after is on a small hillock north of the path, it's fairly unmissable.

Getting up to the same level as the cairn you can see that it's a fair sized cairn this one, from one side it's as tall as me. Cairns are one thing where bigger is better, but better still is to have your cist showing, show us yer cists, get yer cists out, and so on.
The side slabs of the cist are fairly battered and incomprehensible, but the cist lid, the capstone, is still big bright and beautiful and more or less in place, quite an oddly shaped capstone, more hexagonal than rectangular.
From up on the cairn you can see the positioning of the other three cairns, if you know where they are, and the two big stones, and away over the hill the unassuming stone circle of Crugian Bach. Which is where I'm off to now.

Crugian Bach (Stone Circle)

I don't get out as often as I used to, for a variety of reasons, so if I do get the chance it has to be somewhere high on the list, the list has by necessity and my endeavors gotten smaller, the Elan valley is one such place high on my list. I've been near here before seeing stone rows and standing stones, but thanks to Gladman a burial chamber and a stone circle had been brought to my attention. But really just a quick look at a good map shows that there's all sorts of something interesting on just about every hill top. The pretty hills and valleys are a much needed bonus, juxtaposing nicely with the flat concrete of home.

I parked the car as out of the way as possible at SN932633, the top of a farm lane just through a gate by the turn off for the Clyn farmhouse. The stone circle is almost exactly half a mile away south.
The walk starts off with many delays, by way of fallen standing stones and cairns and a cist, some delays are worth putting up with. Then it's fairly plain sailing through the grasses, mires and bogs until you get out into the middle of this particular no where. There isn't much around to get ones bearings by, so I wasn't at all surprised to find that the stone circle was proving elusive, exasperated by the stones lack of height. I could tell I was getting closer when I came across what I presumed were two fallen stones, they looked more like it than the coflein certified fallen pair further north. From these I could see a stone sticking up so I made for that, it was one of those confounding boundary stones, but from that I could see another stone sticking up so I made for that. Tadaa, restlessly wandering about swearing quietly to oneself payed off again, stone circle.

I just cant get into the mind of the prehistoric Welsh, why are the stones so low, big hills, big views, big barren wasteland moors, equals little stones does it? Did they come up with a magical reason for smaller stones, or were they just lazy, was the stone circle fad losing it's power by the time it got here, yes they needed a stone circle, for what ever reasons, but great big super heavy stones, apparently not.
Is it wrong of me to want a Callanish everywhere, surely part of the draw of standing stones is, how did they do it? that question doesn't come up here.
I don't know, I just wish they'd tried a bit harder.

Despite my sizeist reaction to the stones I still liked it here, this is after all a stone circle, over three thousand years old, when three thousand years you reach look so good you will not.
The central stone is intriguing, I think it is exactly that, once standing in the middle, what are they for, some kind of scientific or magical reason or just another trend in stone circle building?
The edge of the circle nearest to cairn topped Y Gamriw has the tallest bulkiest stones, the stones on the other side are barely above grass height. It's quite satisfying pulling moss and grasses from these lowest stones, bringing them back into the light, it's usually best to be above ground, Ive found anyway.

Garn Boduan (Hillfort)

I've wanted to come here to Garn Boduan for so long that I cant tell how long I've been waiting, nor do I know how I first learned about it, it seems like we've been waiting for ever to get to meet each other, and when we met (it was murder) the pleasure was all mine, seeing as Garn Boduan is an inanimate object, not alive, or is it. No its not, or is it.

This is the third peak of the day and not the last, and to tell you honestly i'm really quite crackered, things just aint what they used to be. I parked on the B4354 where I presume Gladman did, and started the long walk, hopefully there would be no explosion at the end, unless it's an explosion of enlightenment.
Despite my exhaustion the walk up the switchback path wasn't unpleasant, the trees are nice, the views are nice and the weather is still uncharacteristically nice.
Eventually I reach the fort, my first sight of the forts entrance brought a cry of relief from me, "that's an entrance" I gasped, just as a bloke and his son emerged from god knows where, I presume they didn't hear me and nod sagely as I pass them. I'm in the fort.

Once through the entrance I'm confronted with a superabundance of large hut circles, but I turn my back on them all momentarily and continue up the hill, there's a "Citadel" at the top of the hill and that is where I shall start my exploration of the fort. En route to the citadel a couple with a barking dog barr my way, the dog is barking at me of course, I must ooze postie from every pore by now, but I do what I must and I stride through the heather to confront my noisy assailant, why do some people seem to have no control over their animals, they never told it to shut up once, I still smile at them as I pass, but shoot the dog an unsympathetic glare.
They tell me its windy up there, talk about superfluous information.
When I hear the word citadel, I cant help thinking of The Lord of the rings, Minas Tirith mostly. But here on Garn Boduan a citadel apparently is nowt more than a broken wall on top of a hill, no knights, no ale quaffing, and no needy princess, lots of wind though.
I'm not disappointed though, far from it, sat out of the wind in what I presume is a walkers shelter built into one end of the wall, I've got a good view of the Rivals and my sexy hill, and much more besides. After a good long rest I get my camera out and set to having a good look round the cit, nope I cant do it, it's just the top of the hill, ok, so I'm looking round the top of the hill and it's a bit confusing really. The top of the hill isn't a big place, at either end of the hilltop is a pile of rubble with scooped out interiors and inbetween them a wall, the wall is still very together and good looking in places. The piles of rubble could be cairns, I hear, and that kind of makes sense, but why have a wall join them, confusing.
From on top, I should be able to see lots hut circles all round me, the information board has them all over the place, but the heather is quite high, and though the huts are without doubt there theyre walls are all quite low, unlike those at Tre'r Ceiri.

So I start the walk back to the south west corner of the fort where all the visible hut circles are. On route another dog starts barking at me, I shall call him Barky, Barky the stupid dog, his mistress to be fair told him to stop it and shut up but he refused and barked at me constantly, I sat and watched and waited for them to go, here theres a cliff type thing where you can stand above the hut circles and take them all in, they do look really good, one of them has walls five times higher than the rest, Im guessing, but I think this one is the one folk sit and eat butties out of the wind in or someone likes to do a spot of wild camping in, i'll just build that wall up a little bit.
Even here though on the lowest terraces only those huts in the south end of the fort are visible, why cant we see more? has there been some clearing or restoration work done.
Passing by several well defined but low circles I get to the wall, but it's too overgrown to have the prescribed circuit of the fort,
so I concentrate on the houses.
They're walls are not as tall as those at Tre'r Ceiri, but better than those at Carn Fadryn, so the middle fort has the middle best hut circles, if that makes any sense at all, I congratulate you.
Then lastly it's back to the entrance, there is now nobody round to bark at me or overhear me talking to myself, so I have a good look round, I try and follow the wall through the trees round the corner, but it's all too dense, so I sit for a while on the entrance, it's all very well defined and the stonework is good, and that's about it, how much can one say about a long big pile of stones with a gap in it, it's old and it looks good, and i'm betting much much more, if you reeeally try.
That's it for round here now, it's time for a long drive down near Barmouth for the last fort of the day, I'm not sure I have the energy or the time but I'm going for it anyway.

Bryn Castell (Hillfort)

This is not the best hill fort in North Wales, it's not even the best hill fort within site of Cader Idris, bit it is a North Walean hill fort within site of Cader Idris and that alone gets it on to my list.
Leaving Barmouth east alongside the Mawddach estuary on the A496, turn left at Bontddu, and follow this road all the way, one gate has to be opened and shut, a large parking place soon presents itself, avail yourself of it's services, and walk. It's a gentle up hill walk for about a half mile, the fort is soon in view.
It's only a small settlement, large enough for a single house with family, but they still felt the need to build a large wall round it. Perhaps the other fort across the river had some impact on them.
The highest point of this little fort has a large pile of rubble on it, I don't know what it is or was, I like to think it is the site of the house, surely it must be.
The stone rubble that was the wall round it does not now go all the way round it, on the west side it's all grassed over, to the extent that I could not discern an entrance to the site.

It was the mountain view that drew me here, and had the sky remained the same all day it would have been a fine view. But sadly the day has turned, the mountains hidden in cloud and now i'm being snowed on, so it must be time to go, but not before I up my thumbs to the Mawddach estuary and Pared-y-Cefn-Hir hill fort across the way, always great in any weather.

Tre'r Ceiri (Hillfort)

Cor my blimey it's been ten years since I was last here, time passes far too quickly, in the end there may not be time to do everything one wants, so this spring equinox provides me with the drive to get out and see a few hill forts. Leaving the house at 4am, the plan is to get to Tre'r Ceiri before the sun rises. I very nearly made it too, after parking in the wrong layby, and following the wrong path, which then vanishes whilst I'm checking on the suns progress, forcing me to pick a route, any route, and go up, I'm getting too old for this shite, clearly. The sun approved of my star watching position, sat amid big stone scree two thirds of the way up and granted me a quick glimpse of it's starry magnificence, before it clothed itself in low clouds hanging over the Moelwyns. It was a quickie sunrise, the sun was as it always is at daybreak, the golden glow wrapped the land in beauty and I smiled my sunrise smile, then it was over, it was like the sun knew I had a few things to do today so it let me get on my way, which I did. I knew early on that I was going up the wrong way, nay, the very wrong way, but it didn't take me by surprise when upon reaching the very top right next to the cairn, it wasn't just the wrong way up, it is by far the hardest.
But, easy or steep, hard or soft, I had reached the top. It was windy, really very quite windy, but it was sunny and the countryside was looking good, the sun came back out and after a sit upon the cairn, which was lots bigger than I remembered, I set off down the north west wall. Until I came into the hole in the wall, is it an entrance, a secret exit, is it originally original, post Roman, or what, I sat here too, relishing the stones humble gift of wind blocking. Follow the wall south to the big posh entrance, wonder in silence for a minute or three, then dive into the interior of the fort to get lost among the houses.
There's maybe a dozen places in the whole of Britain where you can see and touch the past in such a satisfying manner as this, I love the closeness of the houses to each other, I love the size of the walls and the perfect corners, surely there must be some restoration at work here, but it doesn't matter at all, I am far too blown away to dig up such minor trifles. Now over at the east wall north of the entrance where I should have come in. I sit at the battlements, the rocky outcrop that grows out of the wall, from here Mynydd Carngwch has it's most evocative side to me, it has the desired effect once more, bending myself back into the upright position I walk over to some hut circles packed in right up to the wall. Then after a bit more hutting I'm back at the main west entrance facing Yr Eifl. It is now that I must decide whether or not to put into action part two of my plan, climb up there and have a meet with the big cairn, I'm cold and a bit knackered, hungry, thirsty, but whilst thinking these thoughts my feet decide for me and i'm off, striding across the wilderness like a man with a plan, which I aint.

It has to be said that though Tre'r Ceiri is a brilliant place to be, the place you want to see it from is on top of Yr Eifl, god what an eyeful.
Outstanding.

Gray Hill (Stone Circle)

Directions - Do as Carl says.

It's just over a hundred miles from my house, at the far end of another country, but I've just had my malfunctioning car fixed so I had to go and see some stones. I'm sure you understand.
I didn't have an OS map and that worried me greatly, but after reading Carls notes twice, looking on street map and Google Earth I was confident I could find it.

After slowly slipping and tripping up the steep sandy path I reach the summit cairn, all but unrecognisable now, I pause only long enough to acknowledge the ethereal beauty of the fast moving swirling mists and take the Carl path to the stones, my daughter is waiting for me in the carpark at Wentwood reservoir so no time for sitting around.
Some major forestry? work has occurred up on the common, all the trees have been cut down leaving meter high stumps as far as the eye can see, with massive piles of said cut down trees here and there, it was a bit unpleasant. But I suppose it did help me to spot the tall outlying stone, so it's not all bad.

The tall furthest out outlying stone is rather a good one, if it was nearer to home I'd have come just for that alone, but from here I can see the other outlier, which stands right next to the stone circle, and I've been waiting an age to make it's acquaintance so I go straight over and introduce myself.

The right next to it outlying stone is another impressive tall stone, a small tree with nice clumps of bushy lichen on it stands by the stone, I sent monkey boy up it and another to get a looking down photo of the stones but branches get in the way, I should've brought the drone, but frankly I'm a bit scared of it. The sun is beginning to get through now and the mists are lifting, I'm warm so I disrobe slightly and set to tidying up the place prior to photographing the site thoroughly. That can be hard work for my poor back, and if anyone were to see me pruning and whatnot I might get a bit embarrassed, so I keep an eye out for other people. Once, I looked up at a nearby thud and two ponies were being led back home by a grey haired woman, escapees she explains. Right, ok, that's normal I suppose.

After a tidy up, the sun hits us with it's full winter force, well, it was bright and sunny, so I dashed round taking pictures, it looked really very nice, the colours seemed to leap out at me, and now the bridges are visible it adds a new dimension to the scene, I don't like what people do to the planet, but for some reason I do like these big bridges.
Time has run out sadly, the time which I suggested to daughter has been and gone, so I thank the stones, tell them they were good, (they like that sort of thing) and they are good, and take my leave.

Gray hill stone circle is a good one.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website ten years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.

My favourite places are:

Ring of Brodgar
Callanish
Balnauran of Clava
Torhouskie
Swinside
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
HafodyGors Wen
Gwal y Filiast
Grey Wethers
Boscawen Un
La Roche au Fees
Drombeg
Uragh
Talati De Dalt

and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.

My TMA Content: