Once we hit the 300m mark, the climb becomes less steep and it's a steady climb up to the northern ramparts of the fort, via a couple of false crests. Green grass gives way to purple heather as we approach. The multiple lines of defence are immediately apparent, in what would have been a pretty off-putting sight to any would-be attackers. One of the ditches is deep and sufficiently intact to be filled with a scummy green "moat" (presumably not an original feature?).
Having crossed four lines of defensive banks, we emerge into the fort interior, where a rather immaculate cairn greets us. I assume (mistakenly) that it's modern as it's not marked on the map, but a post-trip check of Coflein reveals it to be a genuine, albeit heavily restored, Bronze Age cairn. It marks the highest point of the fort, at around 440m above sea level.
The wind here is pretty fierce, making for a fairly inhospitable stop and we don't hang around very long before electing to take the eastern rampart of the fort. I have the usual delusions of doing a complete circuit, but this is a big fort! From its northern end, the eastern rampart sets off in an impressive triple-line of banks, with a sharp drop away to the east beyond (the drop on the west side of the fort is much steeper though). Moel Famau, highest point in the Clwydian Range, looms into view to the south, but we won't be getting near that today.
The rampart steadily drops away from the northern end of the fort and just before the halfway point the triple banks end, presumably at what would have been an entrance. South of here the rampart drops further and is marked by a single (still impressive) rampart. The nearest neighbouring fort, Moel Arthur, is now in sight, its height comparable with our own. We eventually reach the southern end of the fort, and walk a little way along the (very windy) western rampart before rejoining The Path as it starts its descent from the hill.
From the carpark walk north and follow the thin path through the trees, quite a long but pleasant walk with what would have been spectacular views to the west had it not been so hazy, as you approach the hillfort turn around and take a look at Moel Arthur the next fort south along the range.
Penyclodiau is the biggest and most impressive hillfort in the Clwyddian mountains at 430m the views are extensive to say the least. The strong cold wind coming from the east pretty much prevented us from having a good look along those ramparts (the wind whipped the lens cap right in my eye, ouch)but the other side was well preserved double ditches at the north east end and to the north triple. There may have been entrances to the south and the north and an even fainter one at the east, I don't know why the entrances aren't better preserved but the ramparts are about 6ft tall in places.
I do not know why I put off coming here so long it's just awsome even the kids (My hillfort groupies)loved it only two or three Clwyd mounts hillforts to go now.
Restored Bronze Age summit cairn at the northern end of Penycloddiau fort. Coflein details prior to reconstruction:
A mound of rubble stone, 2m diameter and 0.7m high, formerly summounted by a triangulation point, marked on 1st edition OS map. Due to erosion from the nearby Offa's Dyke Path, an evaluation excavation was undertaken in 2008 to test the origin and date of the mound. Based on these results a more extensive investigation was conducted in May 2009. Both programmes of work were undertaken by CPAT. The excavations showed that the mound was artificial and had a large pit at its centre, possibly a robbed Bronze Age cist but also possible as a more recent disturbance. The general conclusions, despite the lack of dating evidence, was that the mound was a former Bronze Age burial cairn although it was heavily disturbed in later times by the erection of a triangulation point and a walker's cairn. A report has been deposited in the NMRW archive. The monument will now be reconstructed by the Heather and Hillforts Project.