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Mynydd y Gelli (Stone Circle) — Fieldnotes

Finding this place is a labour of love.

I intended to go for a poddle about on Garth Hill today but instead found myself carrying on up past Ponty towards this site, curiosity aroused since reading RedBrickDream's post on it from almost five years ago.

If you haven't got a tomtom, take a mate who's a decent navigator. I went up the wrong side of the valley and ended up going 'round in circles in some god-awful new road system they were building in Porth, I went back and forth between Ynyshire (ermn, I'm sorry, it's that an island in Ireland? ;) ), Wattstown and Tonypandy for about an hour....don't ask. Oh, and watch out, they like their speed camera vans around those parts.

Aaaanyway, eventually I made it to Gelli.

There are no signs for the landfill site anymore as the landfill site caused so much local unrest that they've now closed it down for good. The best thing you can do is follow the signs for the Industrial Estate. When you enter it the road forks in two - take the right-hand high road. Get to the end, turn right then right again onto a main road heading up the hill. Carry on past a speed camera on your right and it's just 'round the corner on your left with a sign for the 'recycling plant'.

I found this by asking directions from two local gents, one of whom recounted fond memories of going up to the stones as a young man but had no idea whether they were still there or not. He assumed thay had fallen into the landfill.

On your left you will indeed see a small recycling centre. You need to pull in there, go to the booth and tell the person behind the counter that you'd like to go up and have a nose around. I didn't have any problems getting entry and you follow the road up and park in a lay-by just outside the gates to the main landfill site.

Just before the gates there are two stiles (or 'kissing gates') on either side of the road. Facing the main gates of the landfill, the stile to your left leads into a field with a huge hill. The hill is an old part of the landfill but if you don't mind climbing about on it, there's some pretty impressive views of the Rhondda valley from up there. Gives you a good appreciation of the lay of the land. Standing atop it, looking down on the town, look up and to your right and you'll see two prominent pointy hills. I've not had a chance to go investigate but it might be one to nose about on if you have the time. The problem with Welsh valleys is that you never know whether it's something significant or a slag heap ;)

I was under a bit of pressure as the main gates close at five and, although I arrived in plenty of time, a guy from the landfill wanted to go home at three and, although not out-rightly asking me to hurry things along, seemed to be anxious to head off.

I spent quite a bit of time looking out at the other hills around. On my way in to Gelli I passed through Penrhys. Just off a roundabout leaving Penrhys is a car park and 'St. Mary's Well'. It's worth stopping off here if you find it. The well no longer seems to be there but there is a giant statue of the Madonna with child looking out across the valley. It appears to be a renovation of one that was put there in the 1500s. The interesting thing is that this is on the opposite side of the valley to Mynydd Y Gelli. Standing on top of the rubbish heap with a wide view of the valley, looking to your right (in the rough direction of Penrhys and the well) is the aforementioned twin peaks. Another reason it might be worth checking out.

I have seen pictures online of the face stone and the main rings but I didn't make it that far due to the time pressures. I would very much like to go back again with someone else who's interested in this, to have another nose about. It's not an easy site to distinguish as there's the remains of a large stone wall and possibly a cottage, so the ground is littered with bits of rock. There is a definite difference between the large, old boulders in my pictures and all the wall debris, but that combined with the undergrowth makes the site well camouflaged.

Breathtaking view though. You can't help but think that if the local council had treasured the site instead of turning it into a dump for dungy nappies, it could have a similar pull as Castlerigg just for the scenery.

I took a couple of quick picks (including St. Mary's Well) here. Not the most impressive, but a start.
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