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If you were to rub your scalp with one hand whist with the other rubbing the stones of Bowerman's nose, and ask any question, in your next dream the answer will be revealed, because the Bowerman knows.
That's not true, I made that up.
The rock stack is to me not very anthropomorphic, I struggle to see a nose, but the hat is quite clear. So if there is no nose, perhaps the rock had oracular powers. Disprove it.
Parking is scant but available for a few, a pleasant ten minute walk takes us up to the Granite god.
He is tall, perhaps he has a precise height, maybe not, he sits on the edge of a small platform at the bottom of an unnamed rocky Tor above Hayne down.
From up on top of the rocks you can see all the way to Hound Tor and the approximate location of the cairn with cist circle.
This is a very good place to get away from it all, but on a nice day like today, and presumably other days too, there will be other people, not many, but some.
It's now 2015 and there is still no access to Vixen Tor. It can of course be seen from the public access side of the wall, the cist too. But that was never going to be enough for me, the wall is easily got over, and with the land owners house far on the other side of the Tor we encountered no problems.
We scrambled around on the rocks for a bit, as young people do, then we plodded over to the cist and the nearby standing stone. This bit didn't really interest the kids so they made their way back to the car whilst I studied the cist. I'm not too convinced about the standing stone, surely it would be marked on the map. But the cist is a nice little thing, full of and partially covered with earth it looks like it's never been excavated. The capstone is in two pieces.
A very successful sneak.
It was never going to be a blue sky with fluffy white clouds sort of day, there wasn't going to be 360 degrees of grand sweeping vistas, but, on the drive over there were patches of blue sky, so we crossed our fingers and made our way through the mountains. As luck would have it, and it usually does, upon automobile disembarkation in Beddgelert, the mountain, Moel Hebog, was almost completely hidden among the clouds. But, brave and hardy souls that we are, we carried on regardless. Over the river, over the railway tracks, and off up the hillside, it didn't take long to get into the clouds, and once in them, we stayed in them.
As you get higher the path crosses rocky outcrops rusty in colour and full of rock balls, like cricket ball sized tektites. I thought of taking one home with me, but when climbing a big mountain the last thing you want is rocks in your pockets.
The path was easy enough to follow, but even so, when a well waterproofed walker passed us coming down I had to ask him if it was far to the top, 15 minutes he said, them turn left, or something like that. He was wrong, perhaps it took him 15 minutes to get down, but it took us longer than that. Or perhaps we're just old and knackered.
After a certain amount of time it feels like the top is approaching, there is grass once more underfoot, long drifts of snow persist out of the suns sight. The rest of the world still remains out of sight, it's out there somewhere, one presumes.
When the wind picks up, it really picks up, it's hard to stand still and even through so many layers I can still feel the cold in the wind. It isn't and hasn't rained the whole time but the wind ravaging around in the clouds hurls the mist at you at many hundred miles per hour, threatening to penetrate even the so called waterproofed outer layer.
Throw your arms aloft and shout victoriously into the void, for we have arrived at the top. There are what looks like over half a dozen cairns on the wide short haired mountain top. Coflein says four or five are part of the bronze age cemetery, the rest are walkers cairns. The only definite cairn is the big one under the trig point, half of the cairn abuts against a massive drift of scree, that side of the cairn is far too windy for me, but thesweetcheat braves it for a minute or two. My side of the cairn, the north side seems to have some kerbing still in tact, it could be a fortuitous later arrangement, but I'm willing to look on the bright side, even on a day like today.
After huddling on the wind free side of the wall to consume much needed butties, I set about the mountain top with my camera. Usually, on a good day on the mountain I could easily take four hundred photos, but today I'm barely up to fifty, and half of them are a tad blurry. We've taken on the mountain and the weather and come out on top, but barely. After no more than half an hour we follow the wall back down towards Meol yr Ogof, on that good day, we'd have scaled that mountain too but the harsh wind and swirling mists have gotten the better of us. We could have stayed and appreciated the otherworldliness a bit more I guess, but I've seen otherworldly enough for today and there are places we could go to after getting back to the car, like Llangernyw Yew tree, the oldest living thing in Wales.
En route back down we came across a strangely magical place, we called it the valley of big rocks, it doesn't do it much justice, but it is what it says it is. Giant house sized rocks with there own little ecosystems on top, one balances precariously on the edge of a cliff, it was just on the edge of the clouds and visibility was beginning to return. We decided it should be marked on the map, but as it wasn't and seeing as the place seemed to have a magical quality we deemed the place as to not occupying a real place in our universe but was actually and decidedly other worldy.
And then we were down, the car park was free.
Quick, no ones looking, grab your boots, map and camera and go go go. I don't think any one saw me leave, just a few stones and then back home.
I parked at the end of the road as if going to Hafodty stone circle, it's the next road over from the old church. It's windy and the clouds obscure the mountain tops, there's a 17.8 % chance of rain. Probably.
From the car, go through the gate and pass by the large sheep pens and follow the path up hill west nor west. From here I was spiritually guided/guessed my way over to the stones, I saw some stones, decided that would be them and they were. Ideal.
The big cairn with opened interior was the first thing I saw, some larger standing stones forming part of an inner kerb or many stoned cist.
Maybe ten yards from that cairn is the kerb cairn. Some kerbing has gone or been buried by earth and gorse, but enough remain to describe the circularity of the monument. The large oval capstone still sits by the area it covered, the cist is full of earth and grass covered, clearly it was opened a long time ago.
The ring cairn is not immediately obvious, my memory of what Coflein says about its whereabouts is as ever, shady, to say the least.
So I go for a walkabout, or a blownabout, looking back, down at the two cairns from slightly above and I can see it. It was right there next to the first cairn, in fact that first cairn is built right into the western bank of the ring cairn. The ring cairn has a good eastern side with, Coflein says, 18 stones. From above fifty yards away I can really appreciate what it is we have here. It's a three in one. Why so close to each other, nay, on top of each other. Most curious.
Three sites in a row, and this is the first of the three, I'm off to find a cist now, then another ring cairn, what a fantastic place.
From Waen Gyrach I can see Red Farm stone circle, Maen Crwn standing stone and I can see where Circle 275 and the Druids circle are, Fabulous.
This cist is easy to find, park at the end of the road where you would for the Hafodty standing stone and stone circle. Walk along the footpath like your going to the stone circle, when the standing stone appears in its field off to your right, turn left into a wide shallow gully, the cist is by the southern side of the gully right below the slope. A medieval settlement is at the far end of the gully if you find that you've gone too far, go back.
How many times have I passed by these places not knowing of their existence, and how many more are there?
There is no trace of any surrounding cairn, the stones of the cist are broken, leaning and fallen but enough remains to be sure of what your looking at, the capstone is gone.
Not much in the way of views either, due to it's position, so I sit in the cist and ponder it's positioning, of course, from the outside, I'm sitting on a rock and staring gormlessly about, no mate I'm pondering.
It is just a ten minute walk, if that, from the Hafodty stone circle. From the stone circle walk north east following the footpath, take the next left turn and follow that one to llyn Y Wrach, the Lake of the Witch. When the lake ends look up and right, in a hollow on the hillside is this easy to miss ring cairn. I say easy to miss, it's not, but Coflein do have the grid reference off a bit.
The last of this afternoons trio of unknown but surely should be known sites, the threatening clouds have long gone, the sun is going down behind Foel Lus or an immediate neighbour, I've only just found it in time before it goes dark. Cofleins error in pin pointing the site have cost me dearly, I failed completely to find it first time back in December, and now it seems I'm not going to find this time either, only a gorse covered bank with one stone is all I've found, I don't think that is it. I'm about to give up for a second time when I spot some stones on the hill side above the path that goes by the Llyn. I thought that was the house platform that the map says is up there somewhere. I decide that it's not far up to it so I scamper up the slope, for the view more than any expectancy that they are the ring cairn. But, I'm amazed to find that the few stones I could see from below turn out to be the ring cairn, and it's a good one. Gobsmacked, infuriated, giddy with the moment of discovery and utterly knackered I sit up hill of the ring and take in it's full form.
The ring cairn is best appreciated at its south west side where the stones stand proud of the ground and there is an obvious gap for an entrance. The stones on the east side have possibly been buried by the slow slide of soil from the hillside right next to the ring of stones. It is in a somewhat strange place, perched above the valley floor in a hollow but below a rocky outcrop and more hills, it sits in a small amphitheatre which in turn sits in a bigger one. It's all very curious.
More curious is the layout of the stones, the ring has a double skin of large stones laid on edge, with cairn material filling the void between inner and outer ring of stones, a bit like Carnedd Y season less than five miles south west. But much more like the Blaewearie ring cairn far away in Northumberland.
But I've spent too long looking in the wrong place and now the sun has definitely gone down and darkness encroaches, it is sadly time to run round like an idiot trying to get pictures in the half dark. On my way back I climb up the hill opposite the ring and looking down I wonder why I didn't cotton on to the sites true location earlier. I've stood here before and looked upon it, but without, "the knowledge" it's just another nice North Walean view.
By the time I reach the car it is pretty dark, but looking to the mountains their vale of low cloud has drifted away and revealed a smattering of snow on the higher peaks, the snow does not come below Drum.
Did you know....... That Snowdonia at night is completely free of cloud and it never rains, saving it for our daytime. Probably.
It's been a long time coming has this, there's so many sites to see and frankly I just don't get as many chances to get out like this as I once did. I can remember getting out stone hunting at least three times a week, no weather too dismal, any time of day or night, no where too far, always throwing caution to the wind. Not any more. So, when everything comes together, sunshine, money and free time in the right place, it is exceedingly gratifying.
I parked by the 12th century church of St Celynnin, put me boots on, slung my camera over my shoulder left my window wound down and walked off across the field to the church.Oops.
The information board at the Lords house declares it as one of Conwy's best kept secrets, I don't know about it being very secret but it is in a very lovely place, it brings out a feeling of reverence in me that I like, it does not come upon me often, indifference and disappointment are my constant bed fellows. Getting out among the hills and ancient structures are a cure, and I swallow the medicine happily.
From the church a short ten minute walk north east brings one to the feet of the rocky island, there is a path for those who follow such things, I as ever made my own way there. From below the outcrop to the right I can make out a low wall with a gap in it, sheep does as she was bidden and goes the way I pointed. Then I follow her up into the settlement.
Determining the age of the low wall, and indeed all of the walling here is extremely difficult, Stewart Ainsworth from time team could no doubt make more sense out of it all than I could. So I just make my way up to the top of the rocks, the highest point is a small walled enclosure of undetermined date about twenty yards across. A small linear outcrop has a basin carved into one end, and the outcrop leads past a large boulder and down into the lower level. I just cant make out what is ancient and what is natural or what is modern so I give up, I'll take lots of pictures and folk can make up there own mind, should they posses one.
For now I am content to simply park my behind down on the high boulder at the top, legs swinging childishly over the edge. It is a truly wondrous view, as good as it gets on this little island. I try to make out where the burial chamber Hendre Waolod is, down in the fields across the river, behind me Tal y Fan rears it's 2001 foot high peak, but north west is my next target for the day, I could of coarse spend the whole day here, quite happily. But then I'd be disappointed in not seeing the other places. So I leave, on the way down I stumble a touch and nearly fall head first down the rocky slope, is it Cerrig Y Ddinas having a go for not staying longer, now that's anthropomorphising.
Several hours later I return to the car, and find all is well, nothing of report here, you don't get that down in the valleys.
For Directions see Hafodty standing stone next door.
It is just a short five minute walk down the track from standing stone to stone circle, the track passes right through the circle, having as much effect upon it as a light wind brushing through a wintry tree. Three stones are up standing, and three fallen, one of the fallen was becoming consumed by a brutal gorse bush, but excessive stamping has freed it somewhat. Though I'm not sure which three stones are the fallen, the big split stone is I think too bulky and out of place to be a circle stone, but the fallen stone nearest the biggest standing stone is too close to it to be in place.
Walking round the circle at a distance I could see that the stones are on an artificial platform, walking round the place looking at it from as many angles as possible is the thing to do, placing it in it's landscape, and all that. Most enjoyable.
The views are most enjoyable too, I particularly like the scene down past Conwy castle to Bryn Euryn hill fort.
Wow! a stone circle with no field notes, shit, what am I going to say....... I played with fairies here then went on a trip in a flying saucer after we had tea with the Queen of inner earth. Come to Hafodty stone circle and see if you experience anything ......untoward.
From Henryd, the small lanes heading east and uphill are only just navigable, they are tight and often steep covered with leaves and the odd slow moving tractor, they can be tricky for those not used to such places.
Basically, it's straight east from Henryd, ignore right turn take the right fork, straight on ignore next right, then take next right again, go up here, all the way baby.
The standing stone is in the field beyond the one on your right, north. If you've got better eyes than me you might be able to spot it from the end of the lane.
You could now jump the fence and the next wall and you'd be there, in the same field as the stone, but it's not easy getting over the wall. Better following the path, which is easy to find and to follow. But it still isn't that easy to reach, over a gate and then one wall, whilst all the time keeping an eye out for the good sir farmer. Who was out and about screaming at his sheep as they blithely went the wrong way.
Upon entering the stones field I hunkered down in a corner and waited for farmer to get off his land, or at least further away from me, duly, he did as I wished and I strolled over to this lovely stone. There are many shapes a standing stone can take, this is the tall, slender, smooth, and circular-ish in plan type(bar one straight side). It has stripes on it too, from rubbing ruminants.
This is a brilliant stone, perfect in shape, a tall phallic missile. At the big stones foot is a smaller stone, much smaller, it is a dead ringer now for Menhir de Champ-Dolent in Brittany ( http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/9945/menhir_de_champdolent.html ) it's just missing a few feet.
Something just has to be said about the view from the stone, It's just on the edge of Snowdonia national park, so as you'd expect it's not a bad view, as they go. West goes up hill so not much there, North is Conwy, river, town and castle. East is down in to the often misty Conwy river valley, and south is the profile of Cerrig Y Ddinas defensible hill top enclosure, and Tal y Fan.
A totally fabulous site, with lots of other nearby little beauties.
I have been wanting to come here for over four years ever since Gladman came on a sunny June day, well I finally made it but suffice to say it was not summer nor was it a sunny day, frankly it pissed down all day long, but my waterproofing laughs in the face of piss, and indeed precipitation.
Head out of Newton Stewart on the A714 heading for Girvan, after about 8 miles and reaching Bargrennan look for right turn with Glentrool village sign post. Go up this small road for less than a mile, park at track entrance into forest on the left.
Like an idiot I left the map in the car, but seeing as it's been said that to find the chambered cairn you only need follow the way marked posts with a white arrow and strip at the top. I decided to put this to the test.
So, going up the main forestry track, turn left at white tipped post, smaller footpath up hill, turn left at white tipped post across a clearing, the stones can be seen from here, as can the next white tipped post. Turning right off a path another path leads shortly to the cairn in it's own little clearing. Uncle Bob was a happy chappy.
Even in the constant drizzle I could see the beauty here, the mosses and lichens are on steroids here, the ferns that are mostly absent from all but Gladmans pictures were dying for the year but leaving the cairn covered in a vibrant reddy brown covering. The close nit trees all round the cairn sometimes have paths leading into them, dark corridors into god knows what kind of other worldly place.
The cairn is a very good one, Greywether tells us that the other chambered cairns round here are named after this one, the signature expression of Bargrennan type tombs.
The cairn is maybe five foot tall, and it's central chamber has a passage facing I think south south east. We enter the chamber, the pair of capstones are just high enough to sit up under them, it is a whole lot drier than outside. On the back stone in the chamber on its lower left corner is what looks like a large cup mark but it is I think natural, but it wouldn't have gone unremarked upon by it's builders. Graffiti is still being added, this year in fact, utter turds!
Eric's just about had enough now and he's making his way slowly back to the main path, not saying lets go now but he's being fairly transparent. Just another minute I shout over, a walk around the cairn looking for kerb stones and such revealed one large stone with a large cup shaped depression upon it, reminding me of the smaller one in the chamber.
Time to go now, a few other places on my wish list have to be ticked off today, but not all of them.
I'd wanted to check this pair out for years now, but, predictably, other places get in the way. So, with nowt to do on a Sunday afternoon I decided to nip out, pop up and see what could be seen.
I parked east of the hill at the end of the road by the transmitter aerial, walked back down the road and took the footpath left up the hill. It only took about fifteen minutes, following the path that goes up to the top, there are lots of intersecting tracks, paths and lines, just go up, and this will take you straight to the tumulus marked on the map.
The tumulus sticks out rather and is immediately recognisable as a tumulus, there is also a small walkers cairn on it's top. But the cairn from here is not so distinct, it will take more searching down. From the tumulus I go for a short walk north west to look over the edge of the hill side and over to Moel Y Gaer hill fort, it looks good with the Vale of Clwyd behind it giving way to the Sea beyond, I can see the Little Orme and Gop hill from here too.
Back at the tumulus I sit atop the walkers pile and survey the surroundings near and far, I still cant see the cairn so I go off searching, first I walk north past the line of the trig point, the only thing there is the line of Clwydian hills with a pair of forts Penycloddiau being the nearest. So I jump the fence and go over to the trig point, it's on a slight bump perhaps that's the cairn. It's not, but I think I can see a vague bump over to my right, before I take in the slight bump there are some large stones over by the fence next to a large puddle, probably from a destroyed stone circle no doubt.
Bump time, this turns out to be it, maybe a foot high and mostly grassed over but definitely the cairn. Some small stones can be seen, but mostly one can only see the transmitter, the mast, the aerial, what ever it is, it is really tall.
And that's all about there is to it, big mast, tiny cairn and a half decent tumulus with some good views all round.
Do not come here if your looking to see something, Coflein say of this the southern of the three barrows........A probable barrow, one of three in the vicinity, c.20m in diameter and 0.5m high....yeah right.
Two out of three barrows are only half a meter high and the third is totally destroyed, even at half a meter they merge seamlessly with the surrounding terrain.
So, if your barrow watching in this part of North Wales don't pick one at random from the map, have a look on Coflein first, like what I didn't.
I parked the car in the car park that's next to Llyn y Dywarchen, hoping to take a bit of a short cut, but we went the wrong way, turned right around the rock Clogwynygarreg instead of left, this took us into a very boggy area and we were forced to take a very circuitous route. But in the end we got to a place where we could see the route, just up a steep long winded slope from here.
In the distance before us there was a group of people, we aimed for them, they were on the path. By the time we got to where they were they had moved on up the path to the stile, a sit down later and we were on our way to the stile. Above the stile is Foel Rudd, a peak at the end of an arm coming off from Mynydd Mawr, it is high above us but 125 meters below the summit cairn. It was about here that I started to get really out of breath, and my legs got very heavy, it never used to be this hard. At the top of Foel Rudd the whole eastern side of the mountain opens out before us, Moel Eilio is from here just a stones throw from Craig Cwmbychan and it's cairn, that one we'll see later. Y Garn and the Nantlle ridge has opened out into the long and scary view that it is, the view to Snowdon across Llyn Cwellyn has been there all along dominating the view east.
After another short sit down we are making our way towards the still sitting walking group, which has turned out to be a group of women, huffing and puffing our way through their midst one of them comments upon my nice camera, but I'm too out of breath to utter anything more then uuuhuuhn in a thank you type noise, no energy to say she has a nice something or other, just enough energy to keep following Alken, one foot in front of the other.
The ground is now a wide ridge, on the right the ground falls away gently to Cwm Planwydd, but on the left Craig y Bera's cliffs of certain death drop straight down to the ground far far below, across that valley Y Garn rises up into a dome like massiff, it has two great cairns upon it, running off from those two cairns the Nantlle ridge runs off terrifyingly wonderful towards another cairn upon Craig Cwm Silyn.
Whilst we're looking over the cliffs of certain death, a woman joins us, we exchange pleasantries and move on some more, a woman on a mountain on her own ? not seen one of those before. It's really not far to the top from here, breathing has returned to normal and the legs have attained their normal weight.
Way up at the top and the cairn is before us, nobody else is up here yet, so we get a few photos in before every one else comes. The views are amazing, from the Lleyn peninsula to Caernarfon, which I mistakenly took to be Bangor, one can see a very long way in all directions, and it is a feast for the eye. The cairn has spread far and wide, but enough remains for numpties to have constructed three large but low shelters out of it. We pick one and have our butties, they don't even touch the sides. The lone woman has arrived and is now taking her own photos, a woman after my own heart, I wish. Then the group of women arrive and take over the largest of the shelters, then a mixed couple and then another, on our way down two more women pass us, is this a girl's mountain, 9 out of 10 walkers were women, you don't see that very often. How very refreshing.
The women have taken over the top of the mountain so we decide to take our leave, a few more photos and were off down the gentle slope to Craig Cwmbychan and it's good looking cairn.
The walk down from Mynydd Mawr is very easy, just a summers strole down a gentle hill, contrasting highly with the walk up it. The cairn upon Craig Cwmbychan is visble from up on the higher summit, it was probably smaller than it's near neighbour, seeing as it's only been built into one shelter instead of three.
Standing back from the cairn in almost any direction you can almost kid yourself into believeing that it is still whole and full. But closer to and it has a small entrance into what would be very welcoming shelter from howling winds and sideways stingy face rain. But today the weather is behaving impeccably and the shelter is just a desacration, I almost want to push the stones in but I'm far too knackered, Alken is lying on his back and i'm sitting on a big flat stone of the cairn admiring the view.
The view is admirable, large and dark is the Snowdon massiff, across the valley is Moel Eilio, itself crowned by a large cairn, a ridge runs from Moel Eilio in the direction of Snowdon. Across the hill tops we can see the distant Carneddau and the peak of Tryfan. The cairns on Y Garn and the Nantlle ridge float ethereally above a low arm of Mynydd Mawr. Craig Cwmbychan cairn sits right on the edge of it's ridge, below it the ground gives way sharply down.
As good as this cairn is and as good as the view is it is still time to go, instead of making our way back up to Mynydd Mawr and going back the way we came, we struck off in a more direct route, going down at 45 degrees, through thick heather, large rocks, and hidden streams, it was not the right way at all.
As soon as the A55 duel carriage way fully opened, North Wales got a whole lot closer, on a good day the Clwydian range is just an hour away, and Snowdonia another half hour. So you can imagine how many times Ive passed by within a hundred feet of this large barrow, but the short cut to it is fraut with many perils, consequently it's taken half my adult life to stop and run across the road for a quick look and go see.
To be fair there is a less dangerous route to it from the west by the roundabout and Cafe, but it is twice as far to walk as the short cut, the lazy git in me always prefers a short cut, there just so much shorter.
So, you come off the A55 at the Caerwys junction, like your heading for the Mcdonalds, but go past it (unless your hungry), and park on the left by an entrance to a small nature preserve. Cross over the road and jump the bramble ridden barbed wire topped fence into the field. Cross the field, going towards the A55, jump the fence and your next to the road, four lanes and a central barrier now need to be crossed. Here comes the peril, close your eyes tight shut, wait for the sound of racing cars to die down and run across waving yor hands wildly in the air. It's just an option.
As we waited for a brake in the traffic a police car went past and I wondered if this was legal, having made it safely to the other side another fence jump and were just fifty yards from the barrow.
It's a big barrow, sat upon a slight ridge overlooking the Vale of Clwyd and the highly forted mountain range there. It has a very good view to the south and a better one to the west.
If you stand in the right place the top of the barrow is a foot higher than me, and on the other side of it a foot shorter than me. If you stand on the top of the barrow you can see Mcdonalds.
There are many other barrows in the vicinty some up to three meters tall, some with ditches, some in bunches, and some in bushes. In the trees immediately south east is an ancient enlosure of undetermined (by Coflein) date.
I'll be back.
My first time here was slightly hampered by small children and knock 'em over winds, seven years later in thick sunshine I'm back for a full circuit, and a gander at that restored cairn. The walk from car to hill fort entrance is no more than fifteen minutes, it's all up and the views expand accordingly. The entrance to the fort isn't as impressive and imposing as the rest of the fort would suggest, that's mainly because it isn't the actual entrance, but rather the route of the Offas Dyke path. There are two entrances, both on the east side, so that's the route I take, counter clockwise. The single bank starts off quite low and mellow, steadfastly it follows the edge of the hill up and over hillocks and spurs, in one place a massive hollow is come across, but the bank carries on. But by the time I reach the only entrance I can say is definitely an entrance they have grown to at least six feet in height.
Some shenanigans have taken place here at the entrance, a massive strip of grass has been removed and covered in a wooden fence, laying horizontal over the scar, a big pile of plastic covered something has been placed in the inner ditch, from the rubble taken from the forts defences someone has created a small throne, shenanigans I tell you.
The walk along the eastern ramparts is now gaining in some more height, the views to the east are long but a bit flat and farmy, there are also two banks now. Wheeling in the far distant sky is a Red Kite, an unmistakeable silhouette against the deep blue of the sky, this is the farthest north I've seen them.
Now the north end of the fort has been achieved the ramparts have grown in number again, four there are now, and very good they look too covered in unusually bright pink heather, in fact, over half the fort is covered in pink heather. From here I can just see the trig point on Moel Y Parc, behind which is a barrow and a cairn, I'll have to go there one day and see if there's much difference between the two. I stop off here for a look at the restored cairn, and decide that it is a very loose restoration, it looks good but longevity has eluded it's restorers. Turning south I retrace the kids and mine steps from seven years ago, two large banks make it most of the journey down the west end, punctuated by a slight and possibly modern entrance with a stile, and some fairly convincing round house platforms. Then it's back up to the false entrance at the south end and the view beckons us on to the next hill fort over Moel Arthur, but I went up there not long ago and it's almost tea time ive gotta go. So I go.
This is a superb hill fort, one of the largest in Wales I suspect, and that cairn needs to be seen before it fades back into the well trodden hill top.
When I came here in 2007 I stood right next to if not on top of this bronze age cairn, and never noticed it. Of course I noticed there was the predictable small walkers pile of stones on the highest ground but, apart from that I remained clueless. Until Thesweetcheat went up there and found that the thing had been restored, of course that means I'll have to go back for another look, four years it took since I found out about it. Not bad.
The cairn is right at the northern tip of the fort of the same name, and right next to one of the busiest footpaths in North Wales. It looks good but I'm not sure about it though, the stones of the kerb are loose and simply placed on the ground in a circle around the slight mound. Some of the stones have already started to spread, I replaced a few but they leave a big brown mark where the grass has died. Honestly, I cant really see it remaining long in the shape it is now, which is a shame because it looks good, from a distance.
I all but saved this one to the last, Kercado is the one that got away last time, the one that nagged at me most for not seeing it. So I cleared our schedule grabbed the camera and torch and promised the kids some crepes, mmmmm pancakes.
It didn't go down well to find the age old creperie had been bought and turned into a curry house, Rogan Josh ? in the middle of the afternoon ?
The kids said no.
So we made our way over to the Tumulus, an underwhelming description if ever I heard one, and paid the disinterested youth. In receipt of said pay we received a quickly translated into English pamphlet about the "Tumulus", so, armed to the teeth with information and exploratory tools we entered the woods.
A sign by the paying entrance fee area on the wall proclaimed the tumulus to be 4500 Before JC, Jimeny Cricket, now that's an old place.
The bright and breezy walk through the trees took but a minute before we were brought face to face with Carnac's beating heart. Perhaps, certainly maybe definitely the oldest of all the amazements currently found around Carnac, Spaceship mark says it's 4800 years BC, Bloomin Crikey that's an old place.
As we approached the entrance to the tomb a couple came out and went off round the back, giving us the chamber to ourselves for a while, we went inside. Carnac's beating heart had a puddle in it, the analogy lost a bit there, then Eric hit his sister and he got sent outside to find a naughty step to sit on. Honestly, even in here ?
But neither stumbling splashes nor minor miscreants could mar this moment, I admired the huge floating capstone above us and I searched for carvings, but I couldn't find them, perhaps the pamphlet could shed some light on them, oh right.. Eric's got it.
Found during excavations were flint, diorite and jadeite axes, and middle and late neolithic pottery, restored in 1925. Jane says now that it's as old as 5000bc, that's 7000BP, Bum pack that's an old place, and getting older all the while apparently.
I wish I could've stayed there for ages, but someone was hanging round the entrance, obviously our time was up, come in number 42.
So we followed the stone circle around the tumulus, people rarely go around the back, and here in the woods we found a good arc of small to medium stones. Burl says of the circle , it is an incomplete misshapen ring of 27 stones (we didn't see that many), graded in height from a six footer at the ESE, the best preserved arc is at the south, there are no stones at the north, he strangely doesn't mention the surmounting pillar, which must have gone up around the same time as the circle, I'm presuming. I wonder how far down it goes, does it touch the capstone ? what did it all look like before it was restored ? what did it all look like when the stone circle and menhir was put up ? Why does Doctor who always pick fit young girls to take to exotic locations ? they never fully appreciate it.
This is an absolute wonder of a place, somewhere to see in all seasons in all weathers, so with an afternoon in summer under our belts we pick Eric up from his naughty step and leave.
Our ferry tomorrow leaves at 11am, and it could take as long as eight hours to get there, so we leave in the middle of the night in the most torrential rain you've ever seen, got back into England to find scorchio sunshine, then we ran out of petrol with no money, aaargh, pain is the cleanser, pain is the cleanser!!!
This is the third and last of the three main alignments (heading east) . Thirteen rows of 555 stones running for only 250 meters, the tallest of which is 13 feet tall, I say only when comparing it with the other two sets of stones.
The smaller wooded alignments of Petite Menec are a further 3 to 4 hundred meters east.
Fences kept me away from the stones and a tour guide party just emptied itself out onto the road side, they're all over the place, I'm off to see the dolmen. The wonderful dolmen of Kercado.
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After visiting over a thousand ancient places and driving between fifteen to twenty thousand miles every year I can only conclude that I'm obsessed with these places, and finding this website seven years ago only compounded that obsession, at least I'm not alone anymore.
My favourite places are:
Ring of Brodgar
Balnauran of Clava
Nine stones close
Bryn Celli Ddu
The Druids circle (penmaenmawr)
Gwal y Filiast
La Roche au Fees
Talati De Dalt
and these are only the ones that immediatly spring to mind, so many stones and not enough lifetimes.