The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Cadair Fawr



The quickest - not to mention simplest - way to the summit of Cadair Fawr, a 1,591ft (485m) outlier of the Fforest Fawr, is to adhere to Carl's fieldnotes and approach from the A4059 to the north, this option also allowing the traveller easy access to the substantial cairns located upon the south-western flanks of Cefn Esgair-carnau should he/she so wish. Easy.... but no doubt wet. OK, no so easy, then.

A more 'intimate' route, however, is to start from the minor road traversing Cwm Cadlan to the south, the valley presenting a veritable cornucopia of archaeology that - in my opinion - matches its northern counterpart with ease. I also find there is a somewhat logical symmetry to achieving the zenith at the extremity of a walk. Something Phil Oakey and Little Boots would no doubt also appreciate should they ever go walking together. Now there's a thought. Hence I approach the summit today from the excellent cairn upon Twyn Bryn Glas, set some way below to the south-east. Now assuming one doesn't stumble down a shake hole into some mystical, otherworldly, parallel dimension.... careful now.... the short moorland stomp, followed by a brief 'pull' to the summit, should prove relatively straightforward, assuming the absence of low cloud. The perennial caveat.

As I gain height the landscape begins to assume a more brutal, primeval character, shattered limestone outcropping now vying for space with the ubiquitous long upland grass.... before finally superseding it altogether in places. Yeah, despite its relative lack of height, clearly Cadair Fawr so wants to be a proper mountain, just like the big ones nearer Brecon. And you know what, I reckon it almost succeeds. It certainly possesses a substantial cairn, comprised of the aforementioned limestone slabs, which is truly synonymous with its location, almost blending into the uncompromising landscape. Takes some doing, that. The signature mark of a proper warrior's final resting place. To be honest I reckon it would look out of place most anywhere else.

As with that at Twyn Bryn Glas, the monument is not set upon the summit to benefit from some outstanding views of Fforest Fawr and The Brecon Beacons, instead residing some distance to the approx south-west, such specific location surely an act of inherent significance? As a result the northern apex of the mountain obscures all but the Fforest Fawr summits rising above the escarpment edge. The Afon Hepste down below doesn't even get a look in..... Sadly the centre of the cairn has been 'excavated' in the usual manner, although I (perhaps) detect traces of what might have once formed a cist, stones which seem to suggest internal structure.

Cadair Fawr possesses a vibe that I find difficult to define today. Perhaps that is what is so appealing, the atmosphere it invokes defying categorisation. It seems awkward, unique. Neither hill nor mountain, occupying a 'middle ground', a no-man's land, perhaps, between the soaring, wild splendour of The Great Escarpment and the ravaged valleys of industrial South Wales. An adolescent mountain which never grew up? Yeah, it is rather appealing. The Citizen Cairn'd wonders if there is a hint of self analysis in there?

After the passing of several hours watching the sky do its thang it is time to move on. The map shows two further cairns located below to the approx south. Hey what do you know? Right on my route.
8th April 2014ce
Edited 10th April 2014ce

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