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Foel Fynyddau


<b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheatImage © A. Brookes (25.2.2023)
Nearest Town:Neath (4km NW)
OS Ref (GB):   SS782936 / Sheet: 170
Latitude:51° 37' 38.97" N
Longitude:   3° 45' 35.52" W

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<b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheat <b>Foel Fynyddau</b>Posted by thesweetcheat


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Visited 25 February 2023.

The last hill and last site on a hilly walk from Port Talbot. After steep but straightforward visits to Twyn Disgwylfa round barrow and the Buarth y Gaer sites, my post-Covid stamina is starting to fail as I get back to the minor road to the west of Foel Fynyddau. The sporadic sunshine that had accompanied me so far is gone, replaced by failing light, grey skies and a chill wind.

Foel Fynyddau's summit is open access land, with a track heading off from a bridleway to the southwest of the summit, past a farm. For whatever reason, probably fatigue-induced brain fog, I decide to avoid the farm and the easy track, instead heading directly up the rough ground to the west of the summit. Although the terrain is open and the distance not that much, I regret this decision pretty soon, as the tussocky grass, ankle-sapping heather and various small streams and valleys suddenly seem as exhausting as climbing a mountain. By the time I reach the upper slopes I'm practically falling over with tiredness, resorting to a longer but less steep zig-zag along faint sheep tracks to avoid having to tackle the slopes head on. It's a blessed relief to make it to the masts and the cairn.

Despite the inevitable trig pillar and central hollow, the cairn is decent and stands to a good height. The views are excellent, other than the masts and sundry fenced off compounds in close proximity, which sadly detract from the monument's atmosphere. On this grey afternoon, the whole area feels a bit forlorn and unloved.

I sit down on a handy bench a little way off the summit, eat my sandwiches and feel a little less weary. Restored, I have another mooch around the barrow and take in the sweeping views from this very prominent hill. Y Mynydd Du, Fforest Fawr and central peaks of Bannau Brycheiniog are all on display to the north, with the Hafren/Severn and far away Somerset to the south.

To the east and south the hill drops very steeply to forestry tracks which have been co-opted to form a network of suicidal cycle routes. I don't fancy going back to the west, having decided to catch the bus back to Port Talbot from the village at the foot of the hill, so I tentatively head off to the southeast.

This turns out to be a very bad decision, as the very steep descent off the hill this way is perilously slippery, with me clinging to the vegetation to avoid a swift fall. Once past the steepest section, I'm into the cycle tracks, which have been made smooth and slippery by use. Before long I'm on my arse in the mud. Eventually I emerge onto a broad, stony track, but unfortunately it only seems to go back up the hill and so I have to resort to a much smaller track, shown on the OS map but quite badly overgrown. The further I go, the more overgrown the narrowing passage between gorse and brambles gets, and eventually I have to climb underneath a gorse bush to get any further, as there's no way I can face going back now. I emerge with lots of bits of twigs and branches down the back of my neck and under my clothes. Yuck. I slip over again on the muddy tracks before I finally reach a road, battered and exhausted. It's rather taken the shine off what had been a really nice walk! I strongly recommend just following the damn track from the west and returning the same way if you come here.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
24th February 2024ce
Edited 24th February 2024ce


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"This landscape is not entirely understood and exhibits a wealth of unique, interesting and puzzling monuments from almost all periods of human history. The importance and significance of this landscape cannot be underestimated. Numerous Bronze Age cairns, singularly, in pairs and in cemeteries, adorn the elevated slopes of Mynydd y Gaer and Foel Fynyddau signifying the importance of this area as a funerary and ritual landscape. "

from the Neath Port Talbot landscape assessment at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th September 2005ce
Edited 24th February 2023ce


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An aerial photo of one of the cairns.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th September 2005ce