Thanks to Postie for bringing this site to light – otherwise I may have missed it!
This is a cracker of a Hillfort to visit with absolutely stunning views – they really are!
We parked at the viewpoint car park and Karen had a coffee from the Red Kite Kiosk while Sophie had an ice cream. I on the other hand decided to check out the Hillfort.
I walked up the small road behind the café and over the cattle grid (you could park here to avoid the walk if you so wished).
I then climbed over the metal field gate and made my way up to the Hillfort – a short but steep walk.
The tumbled stone walls are easy to see and it doesn’t take long to walk the full circumference of the site – whilst enjoying the views.
The Hillfort overlooks Bryn Tail lead mine (CADW site) also worth a look if you like that sort of thing?
By the way, I couldn’t spot the Cairn either!
All was quiet atop the Hillfort, except for the occasional screech of a bird of prey circling in the distance – a Red Kite perhaps?
It was a hot sunny day with only a light breeze.
Wind turbines were slowly revolving in the distance but it is the view over the reservoir which continues to capture your attention – it is splendid.
On the way back to the car I stopped to pick blackberries – what a great hobby this is!
Travelling north west from Llanidloes to Staylittle, veer off to the left to take the smaller view point saturated scenic route round llyn Clywedog. The fort is above the concrete mass of the Dam, south east end of the Llyn.
All I wanted was a direct route from Rhayader to Cwnbiga long cairn, but I found that my way was blocked by a hill fort that was too close to the road to ignore, you'd be surprised to know how often that happens. So I parked on a grassy verge right under the fort, only a two minute climb/walk, and bang, a damn good fort and some terrific views all along llyn Clywedog, probably the prettiest of all reservoirs.
On the way up the thin sheep track to the fort, a few strange bundles of stones or bedrock are
planted along the north east arc of the fort, one looks very constructed. Opposite the entrance to the fort on the south side is a wide flat circle of a hillock, like a siege mound or better a house platform. Entering the fort through it's wide entrance I turn left to follow the broken down wall, things that have to be done at a hill fort are follow the wall all the way round, note the entrances, (until then you haven't been there) then find some where good to park yer arse and enjoy the surroundings. Another entrance appears near the north, heading towards the easiest approach to the fort. Within the walls are several shelters, well probably shelters, like plops in water, or little craters. A cairn adorns the highest point of the hill, I think it's not ancient, map says there's a cairn here somewhere but my eyes cant quite discern where map is pointing to.
Damn this is a pretty place, having a good two thousand year old hill fort here as well is just the cherry on top.
Pumlumon.... 'Mother of Rivers', extreme Bronze Age cemetery... and all round bloody natural marvel... dominates this area of Mid Wales, not so much in profile as by sheer, green, soggy mass. Its magnetic pull is such that the previous day's visit is extended to more or less nightfall, the traveller simply loathe to waste a moment. Consequently, too late to find a place to camp before dark, I settle down for the night at the Waun y Gadair picnic area overlooking Llyn Clywedog. Surely no man-made reservoir has a right to be so damn attractive. Surely? But credit where it's due, I guess.
The morning dawns overcast, ethereal even, with occasional shafts of sunlight piercing the gloom. Noticing a small 'fort' marked upon my (old charity shop procured) 1:50k OS map above the southern tip of the reservoir, I decide to pay a 'quick' visit... no time for another apparently ancient earthwork, Dinas (yeah, very linguistically prosaic, these Iron Age inhabitants of Wales), immediately west of the car... or yet another, due south of Bryn-y-Fan. But there you are. Needless to say things do not go to plan for, like the poverbial 'just the one' in the bar, a visit to Pen-y-Gaer intoxicates... not by way of alcoholic inebriation, the progressive dulling of the senses, the somewhat comforting sensation of retraction of self awareness... but by an euphoric explosion of thoses senses - at least today, battling high winds - each straining at the leash to experience the promise of heightened perception! Ha! Time to cut the restraints, methinks, and let the spirit fly... or something like that. I really don't have the words.
A minor road leaves the B4518 and heads towards the reservoir dam, crossing the outflow, the Afon Clywedog, en route to the remains of a lead mine. Fine, if that's your bag. However if not, stay calm and carry on, the road rising steeply, and after negotiating a sharp bend, park verge side near a cattle grid. Looking back, the hillside rising immediately to the right is Pen-y-Gaer, stone rampart clearly visible, the dam lying more or less immediately below to your left. Simples. A fence bars progress upwards, but as I recall this was in pretty poor repair.... a short, grassy ascent all that is required to reach the summit of the hill, girdled by the aforementioned single dry stone rampart, collapsed, but still pretty substantial (sadly the summit cairn is cited by Coflein - and to be honest, appears - modern).
The wind is sharp this morning, but sunshine continues to periodically light up the landscape which, it has to be said, is pretty special. Ironically it is man made Llyn Clwyedog which makes the biggest impression aesthetically speaking... but the surrounding hills... chief amongst them Pumlumon itself, are not really in need of a supporting act. As for the hillfort fabric, here and there original courses of stone work appear to have survived the millennia. But, as is often the case with such sites, it is the location, the very manner with which the visitor must interact with the landscape, that leaves the most lasting impression.
Or is it that, somehow, time has left Pen-y-Gaer to enjoy its retirement in obscurity. How come?
I found this to be an excellent, well preserved example of a Mid Walian upland hill fort upon the foothills of Pumlumon. Easy access, too, with some first class views. According to Coflein the site is:
'..a stone-walled, ditchless summit-top oval enclosure, measuring 68m by 44m. The ground falls away steeply to the east and west, and on the gentler north and south approaches are additional walls c.55m and 18m from the enclosure respectively. There is a well preserved oblique entrance passage through the south-east enclosure wall, without which are two, possibly natural, monoliths. A modern cairn lies within the enclosure.' (source Os495card; SN98NW5) RCAHMW AP945030/45-6; 955037/66. J.Wiles 13.01.04
'Site survives well. Organised clearance / excavation of tumbled scree fronting the western rampart has taken place at some point, revealing the lower courses of the preserved rampart wall for a short distance. In the rampart screes of the southern rampart, near the gateway, two or three lines of potential wall faces are visible within the rubble core. The interior is uneven and rocky but at least two level areas with rock-cut rear 'walls' can be made out, forming shallow platforms. There are also boggy areas, and a wide level area inside the south gateway, potentially representing a 'yard' immediately inside the main gate.' (T. Driver. 2005.10.10)