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Glan Hafon cairn


<b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postmanImage © Chris Bickerton
Nearest Town:Llanfyllin (10km SE)
OS Ref (GB):   SJ07152776 / Sheet: 125
Latitude:52° 50' 20.17" N
Longitude:   3° 22' 42.91" W

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<b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman <b>Glan Hafon cairn</b>Posted by postman


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What is it about me and high places? For a man with vertigo to be consistently drawn to hill and mountain tops over the entire course of my adult life could be considered somewhat paradoxical, perhaps? It's a valid point. Furthermore, any attempt to resolve such a personal conundrum is surely doomed to failure, if only due to lack of objectivity. However, for what it's worth.... let's start with punk. As, naturally, you would expect.

Although too young to appreciate the cultural, not to mention social impact of punk as it was happening - in retrospect I much prefer the insubordinate political potency of SLF than the comically naïve pseudo-Marxist bollocks of first wavers, The Clash - it was the 'don't believe them, question everything you're told' mentality which has had a fundamental impact upon my worldview. To deploy 'Why?' at the vanguard of the fight against blaggers and hypocrites. A pretty simple philosophy consistent with the DIY ethic of punk: to always see both sides of an argument by actively seeking an alternative viewpoint. Or at least try to. No-one's perfect. Needless to say putting competing 'stuff' into context can be difficult, requiring a suitable environment to allow the best use of whatever brain matter Nature has blindly accorded me, somewhere mercifully free from the seemingly endemic noise pollution all too prevalent today. Such as the high places of Britain, perhaps?

Yeah, the aerial viewpoint, by its intrinsically 'detached' nature, challenges one's perception of this crazy, spinning globe and, more importantly, of the antics of the human beings that depend upon it, a temporary stage for chasing passing visions. At least until we all bugger off to Mars with Matt Damon, that is. Hey, what a laugh that'll be. Party hats all round! In practice I've found the results to be instructive, the head full of human anxiety and contractions upon the approach to the parking area suddenly of no more consequence, by proxy - in the grand scheme of things - than the concerns of the inhabitants of a nearby ant colony. So, if there is such a thing as 'human spirit'.... a soul... that can (eventually) be determined from electricity flowing across synapses, arguably it is the primeval uplands than best meet the criteria for a 'spiritual domain'. If so, wouldn't it be ironic to note that our Bronze Age forebears appear to already have had that sussed millennia ago?

Anyway, aside from facilitating incoherent musings upon the most fundamental subjects, aerial viewpoints possess other, more tangible benefits... such as the ability to see detail in the landscape that can't be seen from below. No shit, Sherlock? Indeed it was during a visit to the fabulous hill fort surmounting Craig Rhiwarth last year that I first truly appreciated the form of Mynydd Glan-hafon rising across the cwm. Although falling a few feet short of the hallowed 2,000ft mark (1,994ft/608m) - and thus discounted from almost every 'serious' Y Berwyn walking itinerary you will come across - I guess the evidence of my own eyes heard the siren call. So, a hill must be a certain height to be worthy of my boots? Why? Ah, it's that punk ethic again.

Consequently I find myself reprising the ... it has to be said ... rather fine approach to Cwm Glan-hafon upon the green track skirting the south-eastern foot of the overwhelmingly sheer Craig Rhiwarth, one beady eye upon the threatening cloud base. The track forks right beyond some rather delectable woodland to descend to, and subsequently cross, the Nant Sebon. Continuing north, it soon becomes apparent that Mynydd Glan-hafon will offer no easy ride; the ludicrously steep gradient of the path encountered just beyond the deep gash carved by the Nant Ddial makes that as crystal clear as the cascading waters of the latter. The siren's call is strong, however - as Bernard Sumner will no doubt concur - and I eventually arrive at the col between Y Clogydd and Mynydd Glan-hafon itself.

According to Postman, not to mention the lesser authority of Coflein, there are a couple of cairns hereabouts upon this saddle. However I haven't done my homework so press on riding my little pony, so to speak, toward the summit. Despite having used all my vast (and ultimately useless) experience of these things and delayed leaving the path to avoid nasty occurrences of stamina sapping bog... I inevitably encounter an awful lot of the stuff. Too much. But there you are. Nevertheless I reach the summit ridge, taking a bearing from the fence line to the top of the Nant Ddial gulley. Just in case things deteriorate, you understand? As it happens the fence is a useful prompt leading travellers to the actual summit and, beyond a traverse fence to the east, the slightly lower trig pillar. As it is I ignore the latter being more intrigued by a small cairn surmounting a rocky outcrop near the junction.

Mynydd Glan-hafon is a wondrous viewpoint, arguably the best perch to appreciate this fact being the aforementioned cairn. This is not marked upon either the 1:25k or 1:50k map nor, indeed, cited by Coflein. However beneath the obviously modern 'marker cairn' resides a substantial, earth fast footprint. Now to judge by the paths - or rather, the paucity of them - up here upon this deeply unfashionable hill, the possibility of the cairn being erected by walkers is, in my opinion, pretty slim. Furthermore the cairn does not occupy either of the twin summits. So why construct a marker? Just saying. In my opinion this looks kosher. Other opinions most welcome.

As I sit and admire unfamiliar perspectives of the familiar... such as the main ridge of Y Berwyn rising to the immediate north, beyond the natural aquatic wonder that is Pistyll Rhaeadr, the sylvan beauty of the Tanat Valley, the mighty ancient fortress of Craig Rhiwarth etc.... the erstwhile reasonably clement conditions begin to falter as Moel Sych intercepts and subsequently grasps an incoming low cloud base to its not inconsiderable breast. Yeah, in very quick order visibility is reduced to more-or-less zero. For me, it is at times like this that upland cairns invoke the optimum 'spiritual' (here we go again) vibes, the opaque vapour inducing a very localised, almost claustrophobic intensity shutting out the outside world from any deliberations. Perhaps this idiosyncrasy was an integral facet of the Bronze Age plan, the Bronze Age experience? Assuming there ever was one and these monuments were not simply erected by ancient punks disavowing the 'rules'.

Time moves on and, despite having a fence line as my personal guide, not to mention preset compass bearing, the disorienting nature of walking in hill fog never abates. For me. Learning to trust one's judgement when all the senses are saying "Are you sure, you muppet?" has proved a major challenge across the years, one I doubt I will ever meet. But then again, so what? Leaving the sanctuary of the wire - and having opted to place self preservation before additional cairns - I manage to locate the Nant Ddial. Following a very steep, rough descent, the towering flank of Craig Rhiwarth slowly materialises through the dissipating gloom like a cosmic hand operating a rather dodgy natural cloaking device. Bit unpredictable, apparently. The return to the car is joyous, a feeling prevalent of being allowed brief inclusion within a spectacle outside of the normal human remit. Bit like hearing the opening bars to New Rose for the first time.

So... not at all sure I've managed to answer my autobiographical question posed at the start: why do I seek out the high places? Hey, maybe to some degree, perhaps? Although simply pointing at Mynydd Glan-hafon and uttering 'Why not?' might sum it up nicely enough. But then again, if Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible taught me anything growing up it's not to be afraid to challenge my preconceptions, to continually push my limitations. But primarily to try not lose the child inside... that sense of inherent curiosity and wonderment. That alternative 'aerial' viewpoint. Don't let the Ed Sheerans and Adeles of this bloody autotuned computer world we now find ourselves in drag you down. Yeah, who's to say what can and can't be done? Have a go and see. Just try not to kill yourself in the process should you choose to stumble in my footsteps. For me that's the true legacy of the punk ethic, my friends. The freedom to choose.
31st March 2018ce
Edited 28th April 2018ce

A cairn with a difference.

I came across this site whist drifting through Coflein, it can be very addictive, those little blue spots could be anything, you never know what you might come across next. This is what they say about Glan Hafon cairn......Stone built circular kerbed cairn with large, probably natural, boulder in the center.......not overly descriptive is it, but tantalising all the same, even better though are the three photos Coflein thoughtfully supplied, ooh that's different I thought, you don't get many of those to the pound. Just two weeks later and i'm there laying hands on to that very cairn. Splendid.

It's probably quicker and maybe easier to come at it from the north, off the small road that leads to Pistyll Rhaeadr, Wales longest waterfall. But I opted to come at it from the south, passing by on the eastern side the massive bulk of Craig Rhiwarth, it has a fort on top, and if time allowed I'd have a closer look at that too .(I didn't)
There are, the map says, several footpaths leading up the way I want to go, but I could only find one and so after leaving the car in a wide farm entrance with plenty of room for tractors and whatnot I started my upward stroll in lovely last of Autumn Welsh countryside.

After the initial heavy up hill walk the ground levels out and you follow the Nant Sebon up into the steep sided Cwm Glan-Hafon.
After hopping over a stile next to an old farm building the path branches, taking the right fork then leaping the thin Nant Sebon the path then more or less goes straight up the hill following the even thinner Nant Ddial. After much huffing and puffing I'm at the top, there are several boulders scattered across the wide ridge between Glan Hafon and Y Clogydd. I turned left towards Y Clogydd, the cairn I was looking for wasn't there but I did come across what ive now found to be Garned Wen clearance cairns and a funerary cairn. Duly photographed I move back to where the proper more interesting cairn must be.
Without much messing about I locate it fairly quickly, with that big boulder in the middle you'd have to be willfully negligent not to.

This site set me tingling, it is a real blinder.

The cairn is maybe ten meters across and almost a meter high, though really it mostly resembles a small ring cairn, because it dips down in the middle to accommodate the central boulder. I noticed that Coflein says it's probably natural, but then there is the chance, all be it a small one, that the boulder was placed there intentionally. The cairn is mostly smack bang in the middle of the saddle between the two nearby hills, on the edge of the steep hill, looking across the valley to Craig Rhiwarth, which has a more than passing resemblance to the boulder itself. So if the boulder was there first and the cairn thrown up around it, then the boulder was very fortuitously placed.
Then one wonders where the burial was placed, is it in the cairn or under the boulder ? a small recess leads under the capstone, if that is what it is, heck for all we know the bottom of the boulder could be covered in cup marks. I could locate only one or three definite kerb stones. The boulder has a large broken off lump at it's western end.
Also seen from here is Bedd Crynddyn, a large tumulus that I had decided to leave to someone else, until I found another reason to come up here, so that is my next destination.

The view is just gorgeous, blue skies and fluffy white clouds and lots more hills, but mostly it is all about Craig Rhiwarth, from here it presents its eastern end, massive, rocky and daunting, there is no way up that way. Behind the hill fort the Tanat Valley lies in shadows today, far along it east towards Oswestry is the Viper stone, a tall and very good looking standing stone that guards the locals from a marauding dragon.

A very good site, with a view to die for.
postman Posted by postman
11th December 2013ce
Edited 11th December 2013ce