I'll just take a quick picture of that.
It's been a long time coming has this trip, conceived of more than a year ago, everything has come together, like a Hannibal-plan, "well".
For weeks I've been envisaging the kind of weather I'd like to have whilst climbing Tryfan, warm, blue skies and small fluffy white clouds. How hard can it be ?
The weather reports and the drive along the A55 reveals the heat wave has indeed still got some legs in it, so we make hay while the sun shines because all too soon normal scheduling will be resumed.
The car park at Idwal cottage at the west end of Llyn Ogwen was full, but the first lay by down the road had many parking spaces. For the first time ever I'm preparing to climb a mountain in just a T shirt, there are trousers and boots too, to be sure, but it aint gonna rain or be too windy. Perfect, now wheres me camera ? ummmm, Oh yeah right it's in the hall at home just feet from the front door, presumably where I wouldn't forget it.
Absolute and complete consternation .
The walk starts up some well laid steps, but soon fades away into grassy oblivion. This part proves to be the hardest part of the walk, no clear path over uneven ground, leaping over streams, it's well hot, and still loads left yet. We head for a big high waterfall and luckily meet up with the main path, another well laid affair, this path takes us up to llyn Bochlwyd. A vaguely kidney shaped beautifully reflective lake, slowly being heated by the over enthusiastic Sun. The views from here are wonderous, east is our companion for the day rocky Tryfan, south is the massive rock wall that is the north face of the Glyderau, west is Y Garn, Elidir Fawr and Carnedd y Filiast, also made of rock, and north is Pen yr Ole Wen and the Carneddau, strangely more rock there too. This is the home of the Rock Gods. Plus two low flying screaming Hawk jets flew through the valley, at the same height as us, you don't get that at an air show.
From Llyn Bochlwyd we can see the path wending it's way up to Bwlch Tryfan, it's from there that the walk starts to get interesting, with added interest.
The walk from the lake was a good one, easier, and it's good to be able to see where the path goes and where it ends.
Had I a camera I'd take a picture about now, several maybe.
Sooner rather than later we reach the wall that separates east and west Bwlch Tryfan follow the wall south and your in a world of hurt, Bristly ridge to be exact and it wears its name well. North and the wall goes up to a Tryfan subsidiary peak, far south peak to be more exact. We follow the wall north but skirt around the bottom of south peak. As we approach the start of the climb up to the Adam and Eve central peak a group of walkers are just getting to the bottom of it, surely they have got turned round somehow, they are coming down what looks definitely like the hard way, we move on and find the right way, it looks like the easy way, steep but exhilarating, tiring but a good cardiovascular workout, beautiful but with no camera I feel like a buffoon, a prize banana. Look hard, and remember.
A very good scramble ensues, I'm sticking to the rock like spider-man, probably because the sun is melting the rubber souls of my boots, not really, but I am feeling confidant, like I already have the freedom of the mountain , without doing the idiots leap.
I climb quicker and quicker, desperate almost to get to the top, the scenery changes subtly every time we turn round, I'm hungry for the final explosive view from the very top, a full 360 degree dream come true. But this isn't the very top, we can see it, its close, from where we sit and eat butties we watch intrepid walkers and crazed climbers doing the jump from Adam to Eve, or Eve to Adam. There are school parties up here, no balloons and such, but kids much in abundance, boys Erics age and girls Phils age, two things occur to me, firstly could I get my kids up here ? doubtful, secondly, and I thought how cool am I for getting up here, and there are school kids up here, how hard can it be ? not that hard at all really as it turns out.
Butties consumed, we wait for the summit to clear somewhat and were on our way up, it's now I remember my cell phone has a camera, it's a crap one for sure, but better than nothing, click.
Right at the very top we share the summit with at least a dozen other people, some stay only five minutes some linger longer, some do the jump but others just sit and watch. A lone seagull flies round and round waiting for a dropped crust, I get really dizzy watching it.
The view is as you'd expect, adequate to say the least, proportional to the energy expended in getting here, so good that one could almost launch oneself off the side if they didn't have a camera, almost everyone up here is taking a picture. I make out that I do this all the time and have no need for appliances. Cell phone cam, click.
Adam and eve stand almost right on the edge of the eastern edge of the summit, flat topped and two to three feet distant. From the summit a truly giants cairn must be climbed to get to the seemingly small stones, but from the other side there are no boulders, and you can see that one stone is firmly planted in the ground and over ten feet tall, the other stone just rests on another rock, neatly fitting together like some Inca temple. I am tempted to do the jump, but honestly, I couldnt even get up without soiling my self never mind stand up on it and then jump off. Not today.
We notice that time has gotten away from us, if we plan to carry on with the planned walk we need to go, and quickly. One more miserable phone cam click and were outta there. I've never been as sad to leave a mountain top, they've all meant something more than just getting to the top, but this one is truly special, but, I leave nonetheless, bye stones.
We get down easy enough, I find it easier coming down than going up, as the dizzies only occur whilst i'm looking up. Back at Bwlch Tryfan we have to amend the plan, theyre always open to reinterpretation, we end the mountain part of the plan here, vowing to get back soon to enjoy the Glyderau from upon them.
Its a little bit cooler now, we are a little bit cooler now too, cool enough to give the Fonz a run for his money, but not too far 'cause my legs are just a bit wobbly right now.
Back in the car and round the block, through Betws Y Coed to llanwrst, up a very determined mountain road and we park up for some afters. Hafodygors wen, or even Hafod y Gors wen, Coflein calls it a cairn, but notes the four stones set into it resembling a Scottish four poster. Its a firm favorite of mine and I jump at the chance to get someone else to see it. But after our mountaineering, the walk in the hot afternoon sun was longer than Its ever been, drier, but further.
My removal of Gorse bushes in the last couple of years are nicely covering up, the four poster, I cant be swayed from seeing it otherwise, has never looked better. Alken seemed to like it a lot, and the surroundings.
A great way to end an epic day.
Camera camera camera ! ! !
From Lake to Peak
The original plan was for a sunrise up at Brats hill with its neighboring circles, then off to Copt Howe.
But a last minute change in plans had me putting it off for a day. The weather report wasn't saying favourable things (rain everywhere) but they aren't always up to scratch so I went for it anyway.
The day begins at 2.00am, whilst loading the car, it is, as predicted, raining, I almost go back to bed. It rains on and off all the way up the M6 too, by the time I reach junction 36 it's just light enough for the day to reveal itself as decidedly miserable. So contingency plan-F swings into action, I head for Ulverston.
I have a bit of a thing for sites with Druid or Druids in the name and it's been nigh on ten years since my one and only time here, so it will be good to get reacquainted, and see how the stones fared against the red paint that some brainless moron slapped upon them, gone, faded or otherwise.
I park in the big obvious car parking place that is not more than a hundred yards from the circle, but, unnervingly, there is half a dozen less than new motor homes enjoying an adhoc camping trip here too. I'm hoping the throng at the ring wont be too big.
Waterproofed, more against the dew than the rain which has by now mercifully eased off, I head off along the grassy path, sooner than I'd anticipated the stones come into view, and Kalookalaylee, there's no one there, I have the Druids circle to my self, or so I thought.
Firstly I inspect the stones for red paint, one stone, the biggest one still has the gory stuff on it , but it is fading and lichen is growing over it. After bemoaning the current state of humanity I take a few low light pictures, and start to cut away some nettles that are overcoming one of the stones. Then I walk round the circle and stop at an overflowing bag of rubbish, I swear out loud and and give it an experimental tap with my foot. This elicits a loud and piercing bark from an unseen dog, then from the other side of a clump of ferns a large plastic sheet moves about.
Crap ! someone has slept here overnight.
I make my way over to the other side of the circle and take a few nervous pictures, a crusty dread-locked head peers at me over the ferns and says "Good morning"
I return his salutation and take a pew upon a relevant stone, turning my back upon his crustiness. Perhaps now he's up he'll have somewhere else to go. He sits upon the stone next to me, Alsatian at his feet and says " no sun today, can you crash me a fag", I realise, he's been here all night, this is his somewhere else. Sadly I didn't have a fag for him but I did roll one of his for him, his hands were too cold and wet. We both sit staring off across Bardsea and Morecambe bay.
I can take but a few minutes of this before I have to excuse my self and go for a wander, up here, round there, back in the car and away.
To Great Urswick.
It has been a similar ten years since I was last here as well. It wasn't a place high on my re-visit list but seeing as its so close and en route between the Druids circle and Copt Howe, via the Giants Grave, I more or less had to go have another look. I'm very glad I did too.
My biggest memory of it is not being sure of it's authenticity, sure it's a big a stone resting on two other stones, but it's not obviously a burial chamber.
Visible from the road, once you know what and where it is, it is but a five minute stroll across a field over a stile and up hill a hundred yards. Some cows were close by but they hadn't even got up yet so they just watched me from there small dry patches. I sat amid the low branches of the Hawthorn inspecting the rear of the big three stones, there are many more big stones under the tree, can we safely presume they are from the chamber and not just dumped there by the farming dude. I take a good look around the Limestone outcropping as well, always looking back at the stones, from the east on the limestone rocks the chamber is hidden by the Hawthorn. The Cows are getting up now and one even mooed at me, my change of socks are already soaked through, boots stopped being waterproof months ago, so I bid a fond farewell to Great Urswick burial chamber, and leave with a new found appreciation of this under valued site.
Really close by is Great Urswick hill fort and a too close to ignore tumulus, so I decide to have but a quick look round before I go off to find The Giants Grave which we so spectacularly failed to find for a second time last year.
I park/dump the car by a footpath sign north of the fort and follow the wall in the appropriate direction, the path is on the other side of the wall but so are a herd of still seated bovinators, so at the top of the field I have to jump a wall, just twenty yards east is the tumulus, I tell it i'm just going up to the fort then I'll come back for a good look, it has stones on top.
The ramparts are not well preserved, they are very worn down, but the large limestone outcrops still guard its western edge. In clearer conditions good views are to be seen all round, but todays conditions are anything but clear. I start the walk back down to the tumulus with stones on top when I get a text on me phone, it's my daughter, shes encountered a childminding malfunction and I have to return home at once.
I promise to do so straight away, and continue down to the barrow, swearing as I go, the kind of swearing one does when there is no-one to hear you. No Giants Grave, no Copt Howe, what a bummer.
The tumulus turns out to be a long barrow, not a particularly long individual, but to make up for a lack of length it has two small standing stones on it's eastern end. One stone is so gnarled it appears to be a tree stump at first but a closer look reveals it's stoney nature, the other stone is wider.
I cannot give it the time it deserves, I have to go.
But as I leave I hatch a plan, to get home as quick as possible, pick up my no longer little girl and without missing a beat drive off to the Peak District, before I'm even back on the M6 I've decided that a return to Stoke Flat stone circle upon Froggatts Edge is what the day needs to be rescued.
Everything goes according to plan, the only thing I didnt take into account is the frailty of the human body, I was so tired that when we parked up at the little parking area near Froggatts edge I fell swiftly asleep. After Phil listens to six songs on her MP3 I awaken to bright sunshine, jumping to life we exit the vehicle and take the pleasant walk along the edge to the circle.
As usual for this time of year the circle is busy getting buried and choked by the infernal bracken, Phil sits around impersonating a teenager that isn't bovvered whilst I take my little shears to the ferns. The big main stone in the circle has many solstice offerings on it's basin like top, a silvery bracelet, some small change, woven twigs, a wax effigy and so on. I reveal as much of the ring as my back can take then begin to photograph the circle. Phil used to be very camera friendly always posing with a sweat smile ,but now she cant bear to be even in the photo, how those times a change. When the inevitable "can we go now" comes I climb a couple of trees monkey boy like to get a more aerial view, without much success it has to be said.
But it really is time to go now, the solstice is definitely over for this year. Now I've got to get Phil to her friends, pick Eric up from his Mum's, and sleep for England on the sofa, interrupted only by microwave related questions and the information that some one is sleeping at Lukes. I was, as they say, not with it.
Circles, monuments, crashes, and floods.
It's five in the morning and the day is just dawning and once more the A55 takes me to the place that an ancestor called home, a million miles from all my problems, it is where my heart lies, it is called Snowdonia.
I wasn't totally sure where to go, one thought was Tre'r Cieri, but low funds and a late night made my decision for me, it was to be an Equinox sunrise at the Druids circle above Penmaenmawr.
I decided to save time and take the car up the track as far as it would go, passing the twin pillars the track gets rutted and pitted, so much so that I decide this is the one and only time I shall take it up this far.
Coat on, camera over the shoulder and I'm off up the path, rounding a small hill the wind hits me like a mad Yeti, cripes that's cold, for a fleeting moment I think this is far too cold I'm going back, but that's not the postal way either so I quicken my pace, keep my head down and keep moving.
I pass Red Farm remnant stone circle and Maen Crwn with barely a glance, time for that on the return trip. Out of the damning cold wind I reach Brian, otherwise known as Circle 275, I say "alright Bri" and turn to check on the suns progress, bugger, it's already risen, so I run the rest of the way up to the circle of the Druids.
It's as perfect a day for a sunrise as ive yet seen, and ive been watching the sun on the solstices and equinox's for over a decade. The sun rises probably not fortuitously over the highest part of the hills Cefn Maen Amor on the near horizon, this is not perfectly east, but if the land was totally flat it would be too far north of the highest point, but because the sun has had time to move through the sky a bit, it does rise above the highest point of Cefn Maen Amor.
On the other side of the circle from the sun I am standing on a small mound, for a moment I wonder if it's man made, perhaps for people to stand upon whilst watching the equinox sunrise from, I look over to my left and note another mound, almost perfect for watching a winter solstice sunrise. There is no mound for the summer solstice. Was it perhaps not deemed as important as the other two ? Are they actually natural mounds, but the stone circle was placed there because of them. Between the two mounds an ancient track passes by. Ive always wondered why the circle is sited right on the edge of the land before it falls steeply down to Penmaenmawr. In between the big hills (Tal y Fan) and the steep down hill fall there is plenty of room to put a stone circle, granted most of it is pretty boggy , but why right the way over here on the edge. I feel I could be onto something, but it could be just a feeling. On the east side of the circle is another mound possibly in just the right place to see the sun set on the winter solstice, it should also be said that from the sun rise mounds the sun rises right across the middle of the circle. Oh for a central tall megalith..
This is easily the best stone circle in Wales.
From there I take the short walk to the conundrum that Ive called Thora, less enthusiastic folk call it Monument 280, where are the other 279. Just to the north is Kevin, a ring cairn called Circle 278. Both of them would have brought me here on there own, but there is so much more up here. I then walk up to the top of Moelfre, a small hill with big views and a much denuded cairn, but it seems less denuded than before somehow. I sit here for a while watching clouds drift over the snow topped mountains to my south, resisting the urge to run over and climb one. That'll happen soon enough.
I run down the hill, always a fun thing to do, but less fun than with Eric pulling me, urging me to go faster.
Cors y Carneddau is my next port of call, a large barrow with a scooped out interior, a very decent kerb cairn , a less decent ring cairn and a fairly knackered hard to discern stone circle, the kerb cairn and the barrow are in my opinion wonderful to behold , second only to the Druids Circle, and the views of the mountains, which are almost overpowering.
From Cefn Coch barrow I skirt around the base of becairned Moelfre following the path towards two cairns called Bryniau Bugeilydd. Passing the site of crashed WWII bomber " Bachelors baby " a B24 Liberator, they were probably looking for stone circles and never saw the hill coming.
Coflein still isn't co-operating, so I didn't know what to expect, if anything. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the remains of a substantial kerb cairn. Half the kerbing has gone but those that remain are quite large, the interior of the cairn has a slight rise in ground level .
About fifty yards up the hill back in the direction of the Druids circle, is what I presumed must be the other cairn. It is heather covered and is either situated upon a rocky knoll or the whole thing is the rocky knoll, there was nothing else in the vicinity so I clicked the camera and moved on.
From there it's a second visit to Cerrig Gwynion, a cairn with a cist. Coflein state that the cairn is four meters high, it isn't, its barely one meter high
My second visit, but as i'm approaching from a different direction it's as hard to find as the first time.
then quickly back to the Druids, then a longer look at Brian, circle 275.
It's now time to go and get out of this biting wind, but just before I do there's just one more new site to see.
A mere fifty yards from Brian is this massively overlooked barrow/cairn, somewhat unfortunately named Fridd Wanc, with so many megalithic wonders here about it's almost understandable. About a meter tall and maybe five across this heather and grass covered mound melts seamlessly into it's surroundings, look for the telegraph pole uncaringly stuck right on top of it, blighters.
Back at the car I'm glad to be out of the cold, which I'm glad to say didn't affect me too much. I leave the vicinity and head away.
I planned on looking for and hopefully finding Porth Llwyd portal dolmen. I knew from George Nash that it may not be findable as it is now descheduled by the Office of works and described as " Presumed destroyed by flood "
But I still hoped to at least locate the capstone, and one or two uprights could still be in place, but alas it was not to be, two hours of digging, scratching, going round in circles and wading through brambles all on what I supposed to be private property. I could find no trace of it, the Dolgarrog flood disaster (of which i include a photo of from the information board, not the actual flood, just a description of it) has taken it all away.
Only more hours spent searching round in circles can prove its destruction.
Any information about it's location would be greatly appreciated, it is not at the grid ref supplied by me here. (Taken from Nash)
Boat of a million years
Very early o'clock Saturday the 22nd of September, sees me up and at 'em and once more en route to North Wales, the epicenter of me. It's the Autumnal equinox again, I've only failed once in twelve years of getting out and being somewhere good on a solstice or equinox, not in any real pagan way you understand, I really only use it as an excuse to definitely go out, come what may, my works annual leave is always March, June, and September, cant get Christmas off, that ones a sicky this year.
By passing Chester I take the coast road, dual carriageway all the way to Conway, it's my route 66, this drive got an even more spiritual bent to it this morning, behind me high and bright was the planet Venus, stars were everywhere, several shooting stars go by (space junk !)and as the road got higher mist started to come and go, the car seemed to be flying amongst the clouds, my boat of a million years.
As you come off the dual carriageway you enter the Conway river valley, the hills and mountains to the west are as jam packed with megalithic and natural wonders as anywhere you care to think of ( with maybe a few exceptions). Cross the river turn left onto the B5106, turn right after a black and white pub called Y Bedol. The mad twister of a hair-pinned road should be taken slowly and carefully. Stop and park at cattle grid.
It was most definitely getting light now, I donned my waterproof lower half, it was not going to rain but dew is a soaker and there's that river to cross as well, then I was off down the hill towards one of my most favorite of places Hafodygors wen. A northern four poster with a ring cairn around it. I've already removed one small Gorse bush, and almost all of another, it was time to finish the job and catch the place in its best light, sun rise.
The brown patch where I removed the first bush has now almost completely grassed over, but the fingers of the bigger bush have started to regrow, bloody Gorse. I unpack my secret weapon, a flick saw, like a flick knife but a saw, ten minutes in and the sun comes up.
I know from copious map staring and Google earthing that the hill known as Waen Bryn-Gwenith http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/12542/waen_bryngwenith_stone_ii.html is directly east of Hafodygors wen, the big stone right on it's summit is very visible from almost everywhere round here, and if that wasn't enough, fifty yards down hill from it is a probable collapsed dolmen http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/12543/waen_bryngwenith_stone_i.html , A good place for the sun to rise on such an auspicious morning, and the perfect place to see it from.
The sun shone full and bright as it came up over the hill, if it was a more flatter place it would have been a big orange ball, but from here the sun has more chance to accrue it's brilliance. And it was brilliant. The sun seemed to be coming up over the dolmen rather than the big stone, cant be a coincidence surely, two other hill tops near here have big stones on there summits dissuading me of a solar alignment. Behind me the sun light slowly moved down off the mountains and creeped down the hill side to my little stone circle, and bathed us in light. I tried to capture the moment on camera but it never sees the same as me. I renewed my attack on the Gorse remnants till it was all but gone, a small hard knot of root was clutching strongly to some cairn material so I cut it back some but ended up having to leave it as I don't want to damage the stones in any way, hopefully, I killed it, horrendous, I know and I feel badly for it, but each thing has it's place, and seeing as only two people have ever been here, Ive decided that I am the one who decides what goes where. This time next year it will all be grassed over and all will be well for this strange little beauty, if only it was a bit easier to get to, it might get more visitors.
But, that's not all folks. First I head over to the other very nearby cairn, it is just a bump now, but I decide to take a closer look any way. Nothing much to see at all really, but interestingly the big stack of rocks is half way between cairn 1 and 2. I return to the four poster and make ready to walk about. I remember Coflein saying something about a hut circle round here somewhere, I follow the river, with a vague memory that its near to it. I didn't find it first time I came here, but I did this time. A large ring of small stones, on a slightly higher than the ground platform, two small wind shelters/sheep pens ??? have been formed from the stones. Not a particularly inspiring ancient monument, but it's position is in a gorgeous setting, rushing river below, more recent ruined building across the river and every where trees, ferns and mosses, with mountains never far from view.
The megalithic portal brought to my attention that a standing stone is up the valley some more towards the mountains, never needing much of a reason to get nearer the mountains I set off, tired but in good spirits.
Following the Afon Dulyn to the dam, then a footpath takes us to the Afon Garreg-wen, It's only a small river but crossing it was found difficult as I'd come to the waterfall bit, moving about in dense wet undergrowth wasn't easy, my leg disappeared down some dark hole, banging my knee cap on my other leg, I pulled out my soaked leg half expecting a Lovecraftian monster to be clinging to it, but it was just dirt and wet. Ok.
Watching out for a big cluster of sheepfolds I knew I was in the right place. and there it is, vaguely helping a fence to stand up.
The stone is 1.75 meters tall, that's up to my chin. It is only by a fence and the farm dude has tied a wooden fence post to it with new shiny wire, I try half heartedly to undo it but to no avail. The stone clearly predates this fence, even the river is named after it, the fence runs for 1.5 miles from Pant y Mynach hill top to far across the valley to the footpath at Clogwyn-yr-Eryr. There are two stones right next to it, this one and another fifty yards higher up, but its smaller than this one. Brilliant views over to the Carneddau and Pant y Griafolen, and every where else the eye settles on.
One more place on the way to the car, I follow the fence line all the way across the valley crossing the Afon Dulyn in the process, I saw three other people on the way. High up on the other hillside I come to the track and start walking carwards, that is east. First I refind the single standing stone that is situated by a dip in the hill top perhaps pointing towards Pen Llithrig y Wrach, then from there the other stones can be seen, one good tall stone has holes in two sides one all the way through, the fallen stone is perhaps smaller, with another hole in it. The last stone is the smallest and the most northern. It has no holes in it. These three could be a stone row, but the other stone up hill is out of line. It's all very confusing, they were at one time part of a fence line, but the ancients breath has been down my neck all morning, its just as strong here as it was at sunrise. What a beautiful place, I must find a reason to come back, thought of one already, because I can.
One more place to go. Back to the boat of a million years. On the way taking note of the big stone on Waen Bryn-Gwenith, and I spot the tree guard of Cae Du on my right on the shoulder of Moel Eilio.
I drive the car back to Tal y Bont and then immediately back up into the mountains skirting by and below Pen y Gaer, hill fort extraordinaire. There is a small car park west of the fort, i've been up the fort before, so instead I now crawl up the nearby mountain? of Penygadiar. There is no cairn or stone here, just a view to end all views, some places have a good views but compared to this they're just looking over the wall at old ladies drawers. Expansive isn't the word, try all encompassing, it's closer, I wont name all the places seen from up here, but its well over twenty, the nearest is the hill fort, which is why I came up here, on zoom we can see it all. But now, that really is all folks, a leisurely float home and two hours later I'm crashed out on the sofa not watching tele .
The big three
After a quite frankly horrible nights sleep in the car, jeez cars are uncomfortable for sleeping in, cheep though. Eric got through it ok but I must have had about four hours, not enough for the day ahead. Breakfast was obtained from a garage in Tredfraeth/Newport, then it was back over the hills to our first destination.
This one had been bumping around the top of my list for ages, years, but seeing as it's so far away, at least a three to four hour drive and North Wales is so much closer, but i'm here now and i'm not going to waste the opportunity. I parked in the entrance to the Electricity sub station just to the west of the circle, reckoning that no-one would be coming this early in the morning, and they didn't. Then we rode the bikes down to the left hand gate , Eric's went under the gate mine over it then a one minute ride up to the medley of animal pens, curious young cows ran alongside the fence, Eric was more interested in them than the stones so I was able to have a quiet moment or ten with the stone circle.
For it must be a stone circle, the map says only cairn but what do maps know, bah, who makes cairns with stones this big. Each stone is of a singular shape meticulously chosen for it's odd shape, the corrugated stones are particularly interesting. One of the two tallest stones seems to have been cut in two the line of the cut so perfect it must have been a Sith lord up to mischief with his light saber. If a stone circle it be then it would have been the best stone circle in the whole of the Preselis, Gors Fawr could be walked through without noticing it by someone unused to such things, and Bedd Arthur isn't even a circle. If you know where to look Budloy standing stone can just be seen across the slight valley.
I really liked this place, it didn't disappoint at all, even the cows or the farming utensils did nothing to blunt my experience here, just imagine what it would be like if it was in pristine condition, mind blowing.
That was the first of the big three, but compared to the other two on my days list it was at the bottom, but only because I really really liked the other two. Anyway just down the road is a tall and shapely stone at Budloy farm
Seeing as it was so close to the Dyffryn stone circle ( I refuse to call it a cairn) we rode our bikes down the road, turning left immediately after going over the bridge over happy waters. Open and close gate, ride down track and umph, a farm, hmmm what to do, worse still the farm yard was full of sheep and lambs with the farmer and his wife. i didn't hold out much hope, the farmers wife saw us but didn't seem to mind. We opened and closed the next gate and we were in the farm yard, I went over to the farming couple and asked if it was okay if we went over to their stone, (they like that) she said it was alright as long as we left our bikes there. Okely Dokely said I and off down the track we went, passing some ruined Reliant Robins and an old boat, which is right next to the gate that leads into the stones field.
We entered the field, scaring off two geese and walked over to the well proportioned stone. Tall and pointy it be, if i had a standing stone it would be just like this one. If you know where to look you can just make out the Dyffryn stones. To the immediate north of the menhir is Budloy mountain but at only 287 meters it's hardly a tiring climb. En route back to the bikes which had moved when we got back, we noticed what an idyllic farm scene this was the sheep had gone but ducks were now quacking about the many streams that pass through there yard. If I had a farm I'd like it be this one.
From Budloy we made our way through Maenclochog which has more than it's fair share of standing stones strewn around it's outskirts, passing east out of the village we passed Temple Druid standing stone.
We just had to stop and say a quick hi to this tall yet squat pointy standing stone. Passing east out of Maenclochog which i'm probably erroneously guessing means loads of stones, as you cant leave the village without passing one, we passed this one. It was a good one, next to wooded streams and small waterfalls, god I wish I didn't live where I do.
From there it was only a couple of miles to the next place, it wasn't on today's list but seeing as I was passing very close by I thought I'd have a look at Yr Allor standing pair of stones, but they were safely tucked up behind some houses with no obvious way to get to them, but this is The Preseli mountains and they always come up trumps in the menhir department.
I was looking for a way to get to the Yr Allor stones when I came across this site, I parked up outside it's field and inspected the map. Hmmm there are so many stones around here that your just falling over them, I get out and walk over, look at the information board and ohhhh it's Meini Gwyr, it wasn't high on the list due to it's ruination but it was there nonetheless .
There is still a slight circular bump to be seen, just, and the stones are still quite big, well one of them is, and they still have that inward lean that Merrick mentions in his notes. I can't quite make out Yr Allor from here, and that is where the attraction to the place comes in, not not making things out, but, in it's heyday this would have been a phenomenal place, so many closely fitting sites all seemingly linked together, like a mini Carnac, but it's all over now the crowd are on the pitch it is well and truly over.
After that introduction to a lost megalithic playground/paradise, it was time to gain some height, these are mountains after all. Turning left at Glandy Cross onto the A478 we immediately pass a hill fort a cairn circle and a burial chamber, then turn left at Crymych and there rising before us is the second of the big three Moel or Foel Drygarn, a wonderful rocky hill with a fort and three big cairns in it. A beaut of a site.
Beware ! I will be talking enthusiastically about this place, what we are sometimes privy to is more than just a visit to some stones by someone, sometimes it's a window onto a love affair, for it sometimes feels more like i'm documenting a love story between myself and these ancient wild high places, if I sometimes sound like a giddy child it's because I feel like one, it's just the best feeling in the world.
We parked in the obvious place south east of the small mountain, and rediculously I let Eric talk me into taking the bikes up with us, it wasn't that hard going, it's not too steep. On the way up he would look back down the path and tell me how cool it will be to ride back down, pointing out dips and jumps he would go over, we're not mad, we had no intention to ride down from the top that would be suicide, however his second mountain lesson would be coming soon.
As we neared the top I could see what looked to be the first line of defences for the hill fort, crawling north around the side of the hill and curling west to keep those pesky invaders out.
We pass it by and reach the level ground at the top, lean our bikes against the rocks at the south east, and turn to look at the three ginormous cairns, if a mountain is lucky, no if i'm lucky a mountain will have a cairn on it, if i'm verrry verrry lucky it will have two decent cairns on it, but to get three cairns of such distinction you have to come to the magical playground of the stonehenge builders, the Preseli mountains.
I read with disappointment that Carl wasn't impressed with the hill fort, saying little to be seen, ?? the defences can be followed all around the north of the hill and even the entrance is deep and obvious on the south side where there are no defences because of the precipitous rocks , Iv'e seen worse, much worse and whats worse is iv'e driven miles to see them, here though it is an absolute delight, a cherry on the top, for the main gatteau is the three huge cairns perched on top, keeping watch over the whole of the eastern mountain range.
The cairns have been recently restored by army preparation students, whoever they are? but they have done a grand job. We could tell by the colouration of the stones where had been restored. But they either left a bit out or someones been at it already as there is a a small scoop in the western end of the western cairn, it's a comfy place to sit out of the wind and watch the clouds scudding over distant Carnmenyn. Carnmenyn, from here it hides from view the Carnmenyn burial chamber and the stone river, had I been alone I would go over there and introduce myself to the genius loci there. But not this time, they will have to wait till our next rendezvous. From up on top, on top of the trig point, we can see it all , west past Carnmenyn to Foal Feddau and Craig y cwm, Preseli's highest point. North is the coast, I can see Dinas head, and closer to somewhere before me is Beddyraffanc, east is Frenni Fawr and cairns and south is Carn Ferched and further off is the megalithic complex at Glandy cross.
But the best thing is just sitting up on the central cairn watching the clouds shadows moving across the ground below, the occupants of these cairns must have been important indeed.
But the worse thing is on our way back down, on the bikes, Eric went from lower than me, but no sooner had we got fifty yards he went tumbling head first over the handle bars, and I was unable to do a thing but watch it all happen, thankfully he wasn't hurt too much, mostly his pride, and with it comes a valueable mountain lesson, even if your thinking I can do that, it always pays to be conservative, no not them...ptui.
That was the second of the big three. After picking ourselves up and brushing ourselves down, we rode the bikes slowly back to the car. Only two more places then we'll go another castle on the way home I told him, this seemed to make him feel better.
After reading a post on the Waun Lwyd webpage about e-mailing the new occupants of the property I thought I'd go see these two stones which have until now escaped photography, after a bit of wrong houseing we got to the right place.
Time for some food, care of Glandy Cross service station, then it's the short drive to Llanglydwen and one of the best placed dolmens in Wales one of my favorite places Gwal y Filiast, and the last of the big three.
I can't believe I didn't add any field notes from my last visit six years ago, even though that was more than half a lifetime ago for Eric he still said "oh I remember this one" and that was before we even got to it.
Heading south out of Llanglydwen, take your first right turn, then turn right into the track that leads to Penbontbren cottage, they let me park there last time but this time I leave it further up the track in the corner to one side, then walk down to the house and pass it by on it's right hand side, through a red gate. Then take your left hand fork passing a standing stone/old gate post and in one minute the most beautiful of Preseli's chromlechs is revealed.
Looking down over the river but not in site of it, is the greyhounds lair, what is it with greyhounds lairs in Wales? there is at least three that i've been to, is it the ancient name for it or a modern thing?
I walk around and around it, taking pictures from strange angles that I didn't explore last time, but last time the whole family and the dog were here, this time it's just Eric and me, and he's got a new football, so i'm free to go this way and that. Some chalked/burnt stick graffiti is on the inside, including a spiral in black, it's all old stuff that's wearing away, it'll be gone by autumn.
On the edge of the Preseli mountains but not in site of it, this is a must see dolmen, so many pictures of Coaten Arthur and Carreg Samson, this place is well under used, and little visited. A secret little gem, if i'd come a few weeks later there would have been bluebells too, so much beauty and wonder in one place would have made me quiver. Then again at work a bonus is coming my way soon, so I may come back in a few weeks, and I will be a lucky boy.
Ps.... the walk back was timed to more or less fifteen minutes, so there's no excuses for not coming.
On the way home we stopped off at Newcastle Emlyn castle, not much left of it but we had a good walk by the river and found a duck shoeing us away from her brood, sweeet.
Alas I didnt get to go everywhere I had my eye on, no time for the hill fort and standing stone at Bosherston, and no time for Carn menyn and the stone river, oh well it won't be too long I hope.
I e-mailed the new occupants living in the nearby house asking if my son and I could come and have a look at the stones but received no reply, so we went any way. It took two tries to get the right driveway down to the house (blurred house name on streetview says lots) but we got there eventually. I parked in the farm yard and knocked on the door, farmers wife came to the door so I asked if my son and I could have a look at the stones, using the exact words used in my e-mail, but it didn't seem to register, no matter, she didn't have a problem gave me some directions to the stones and off we went, would have been nice for the asked for e-mail to have made an impact though.
The stones are first seen over the wall, oooh said I they're big ones, then we get to the gate and enter the stones field. Immediately you can see that some work is being carried out here, new fence posts and new barbed wire, not into that, not at all. But also some gorse has been removed and piled up, I am into that though, but not too much mind.
These are a fine pair of stones, the smaller western stone is more rounded and blunter, female ? and the eastern stone is taller, sharp edged and pointy, male ? whether it is a gender issue that determines the stones shape I'm not overly convinced but there is a meaning to it i'm sure.
Standing south of the stones, they frame Carn Meini, 365 meters of up thrusting weather beaten rock, and next to it the Carn Menyn chambered tomb and coming from that the stone river a most singular natural feature. There's really a lot going on around here, I so wish it was the same in my almost local Snowdonia.
I'll have to put in for a transfer down here.
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
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.