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There is free parking for nigh on a dozen cars by the church, south of the fort, as parking spots go it's a good one, on one side is Carn Fadryn itself and on the other is the rest of the Lleyn peninsula, for those who elect to stay in the car it at least has a good view.
On the other side of the church go up a lane that goes up to the covered reservoir, go through a gate turn right and follow the thin but well worn path, it goes all the way (baby) to the top.
Near the top we go through the southern entrance, the wall goes off to the right and round a corner and left it continues up hill towards the rocky summit. The childrens guide to climbing mountains expressly forbids any dallying with ancient remains, but insists that you proceed straight to the top with gusto and intrepidity. So, straining against the strong wind I'm led up a mountain by two thirteen year olds, one of whom has never been up a mountain, and the other has seen too many Bear Grylls.
I turn to photograph some of the huts and pounds that huddle out of the wind under the cliffs, from here I can see Mynydd Tir-y-Cwmwd, where we've just seen a very sorry dismantled dolmen, below me is the fort interior, coflein assures us that the entire place is covered in hut circles, but they've all gone from there, but not gone is a cairn, we'll see that shortly though. There is also a cairn further up the rocks behind me closer to the top, so I return to following the kids, who have now somewhat disconcertingly, disappeared.
I catch up with them huddled behind some rocks, the wind is very strong, not cold, but strong. They have also inadvertently stopped right by the cairn, so I give it a good inspection whilst they sit and look on.
Right up at the top is the trig point, 371 meters high, doesn't sound much does it, it's not even once round the running track, but 1217 feet does sound a lot. Apparently if a hill is over a thousand feet its a mountain, perhaps explaining why we consider Wales to be very mountainous.
Up at the top, the ground seems not wholly natural, I found that was probably because there was once a Norman tower castle up here, nothing too big, just big enough to make the downtrodden locals feel oppressed.
From up at the top the view is teasingly not over expansive, behind Garn Boduan The Rivals struggle to be seen through the haze, and the whole of Snowdonia just isn't there at all.
We start the walk along the great north wall, the night watch are long gone now, the dozens and dozens of huts and pounds are getting swallowed by high heather and much greenyness. I even stumble across the north entrance, it too is choked with undergrowth. But even better hidden than the entrance will be something I've not heard of before. If it's not unique let me know, this is cofleins description..........A robbed and ruined cist or ancient burial vault, 2.4m by 1.2m, is overlain by the inner rampart of Carn Fadrun. It is suggested that the cist was originally covered by a cairn, of which a scatter of loose boulders remain. Such a monument would conventionally be ascribed to the Bronze Age...........
How on earth am I supposed to discern a cairn with a wall over it, a wall that fell centuries ago and has spread twenty yards in either direction, this one will stretch my stone finding skills to be sure. A needle in a haystack, and a haystack made of needles.
We continue to the end of the north wall to the north east corner of the fort, on another rocky outcrop. Ive already seen half a dozen contenders for being ex cists. But then I find what I thought to be hut circle attached to the inner side of the inner wall, but the interior of the hut is very small, this could be the cairn, the inner scoop of the cairn is chokka block full of plant growth, at the time, I was still unsure so we carried on. At the south east corner, I decided that that was it after all, maybe, probably.
I detour into the forts interior to see the big cairn, it has been added to by Joe public, massively. So much so that I wonder if its bronze age at all, the very lowest section looks to be it, even a couple of kerb stones?
Back to the kids and we finish off the mountaineering part of the day by returning to the path via a path of our own choosing, over and among massive rocks, short cliffs and small caves, quite dangerous, stick to the path.
A superb hill fort with loads to see, epic views, easy to get to, but, still not as good as Tre'r Cieri.
The first time I tried to come here we got hopelessly turned round coming from the wrong direction, I lost my way and about 85% of my grip on reality, gave up and went somewhere easier to find, ie; home.
Better equipped, we returned for another crack at the whip, another stroke of the goose, another push at the rod accentuater, another.... well, again.
From Llanbedrog head south on the A499, for those eagle eyed among us they may notice the pair of hill forts either side of the road, turn left after here at a brown sign saying Bolmynydd. Follow this single file lane, it turns 90 degrees right, then hairpins back on itself, follow this till you get to a small car park next to the Bolmynydd caravan and campsite. From the car park head up the lane with no end, you can get up there by car but there probably wont be anywhere to park, and it's only a five minute walk. At the blue Peugeot, it's on street view, keep going on the footpath and out onto the heath, when the footpath branches, go left for 10. 65 meters then strike out into the grasses, the big stone is there and visible in low undergrowth, from car to stone about 8 or 9 minutes.
We had another of Eric's school mates with us today, Jack, clearly he had no idea about what a trip out into Wales is comprised of. Eric and me immediately laid into the brown ferns and the ready to strangle brambles, peeling back the undergrowth so as to reveal as much of the big stone as possible, Jack looked on bemused, I then realised that we hadn't explained what we were about, I'd taken it for granted that this was normal and everyday, the look on Jacks face was priceless, clearly we were suffering from some kind of neurological impairment. It's just a rock he suggests, I explain that it's a stone, not a rock, I can tell this is not washing, so I explain further, but this takes us into territory that I often wrestle with myself, why, how, when and what does it all mean, if anything, any way it's a stone, ok?
Coflein says the big stone is 3.58m by 1.42m and about 0.5m thick, and that it's the capstone of a megalithic chamber, 'thrown down' c.1850, and possibly obscured subsequently. So they destroyed a dolmen and then tried to bury or hide the one big stone they couldn't remove. The Bounders.
After revealing almost all the stone, some of it obstinately refused to come out of the ground, I photographed it and with not a small amount of.....something, I agreed with Jack and said it is just a stone, mainly, lets go and climb a mountain.
Everyone understands the worth of climbing a mountain, Jack certainly did, back on firm ground, Terra Normality.
After a most rewarding afternoon on the Lleyn I decided it was high time for round two with Penbryn Mawr, for an idea on how round one went refer to my field notes of December 2009.
Suffice to say, I didn't find the stone last time, but after much snooping about on the portal and google earth, I knew exactly where it was, and I knew why there was so much confusion the first time.
The grid reference numbers given on this site page and the Penbryn Mawr page on Coflein are out by over five hundred metres. The actual grid reference is SH45355391. To also throw into the confusion, Cofleins description of the stone describes to a T the stone in the driveway of Penbryn Mawr house, but not the stone by the road on a hump at the grid ref given here.
So, the bronze age standing stone is by the road 530 meters (app) west of Penbryn Mawr farm house, however, for those of us blessed by a comprehension of the Welsh tongue a knock on the door at Penbryn mawr could be more rewarding than the actual standing stone itself. Read previous notes.
Parking in the layby next to The Manor House, Ravensheugh crags are the small range of cliffs opposite. Follow the yellow stone track with whatever company your keeping at the time up to the top, looking for a left hand grassed over track and footpath, the tops of the stones are visible from the track.
I can only imagine how Carl failed to find this delightful little four poster, there are no ferns up on the hill, so he must've been in the wrong place, did he go past the left turn, or not go far enough?
There is a trig point on the highest crag, but it's not on the map, seeing as i'm only here for the stones it has no impact upon my visit.
The sky is big, blue and peppered with fluffy white clouds, the stones are small, four in number and peppered with cup marks, well, one of them is. Handily the cup marked stone sits in it's own little pond so wetting the stone so as to better appreciate the cups was not a problem.
The big sky is accompanied by distant horizons, it's a beautiful day and the views are long. I sat down in the circle with my back to a stone, there's a couple of walkers over on the crags, but they don't seem to be walking anywhere, perhaps they were coming here and are waiting for me too push off.
I love four posters , they're just so intimate, the five of us sitting round an imaginary campfire, swapping ghost stories and lieing about our female conquests, you can tell a four poster anything they never doubt you.
I couldn't see "The Wall" from here, but it has an almost tangible presence, it's just over there a couple of miles to the south, the end of one world and the beginning of another. I'm going over there next to try and find another stone circle , but it looks like were running out of time so only a preliminary snoop around in preparation for the next time.
I've been desperately wanting to come here for years, It was a toss up between the Lleyn peninsula and Northumberland, seeing as this year has been labelled the year of the stone circle and because of Hafodygorswen I've taken on a bit of a quest for the four poster. So here we are, Phil the daughter and I, well, I parked in the little car park at Blakehopeburnheugh, same as Hob ten years ago.
The walk starts going up the toll road (£3) forest drive, but we take the first right turn and follow the track parallel to the river Rede. The track heads up hill slightly then branches into two, turn left. Then almost immediately right, up a grassed over track. Almost immediately again turn left, this left turn is a pretty vague path but is marked by a 3 kings sign. Steeper up hill now, with a slippy algae covered hand rail to steady ones self, or not.
Daughter Phil usually has the get up and go of the average 15 year old, but today she is really impressing me, no moaning at all, perhaps taking archaeology at collage has had an impact.
Up ahead there is a sun filled clearing and my spidey senses start to tingle, the stones must be just up there, and so they were.
Three bright stones shining in the sunshine, a smile challenges my calm demeanor, beats it over the head with a heavy stick, and takes over my face completely. I just love arriving at a difficult to get to high on the list site, I imagine it's how Rory Mcilroy feels when the last ball goes down the hole and the championship is won, probably is.
Some armholes have had a campfire in the circle, I cleared as much of it away as I could, then we sat down on the fallen stone. Three kings? not four? obviously if you fall down you don't count, at all.
Since Greywether and Hob came, the trees have really grown, tall and thick, all the view is gone, but I recently bought a big box of matches so it wont be long now. This little clearing is acting as a sun trap this morning, and with the stones mooning at me, this is a terrific place to be.
I'm on a bit of a quest concerning four posters, Hafodygorswen, in far off North Wales is in my opinion a bona fide northern fourposter, I was a bit concerned with it being associated with a cairn, but as i'm finding, four posters are more usually than not, associated with a cairn.
Whilst I was walking about photographing the stones, I saw a little brown vole scurry from one big tuft of grass to another, then two seconds later and one foot away a little green lizard, an out of place sand lizard, or just a green common lizard, either way, nice.
The information board, wasn't expecting one of those up here, is a bit different than most, the left side is all very normal, saxon kings, bronze age, burial etc etc. But the right hand side has three poems all by local school children one of which I would like to perform for you now........
Tall stones standing spotted, grey, looking out
across the trees.
Lonely peaceful in the clearing.
Your lichen patterns change colour in the shadows.
Ancient people left you here guarding the grave of their loved one.
Only the buzzing of the bees and the song of the birds can be heard.
And the smell of the fresh green grass stays with you forever.
Apart from the smelling bit I'm totally on board.
I first came here thirty odd years ago on a school trip to what we called the Menai centre, all week I'd spied the curious stones outside the art room window, so I made sure I took a closer look before we left, needless to say I went on my own. I didn't appreciate all it's complexities, uses, age and so on, back then, and soon forgot all about it. But when I saw it again much later I
knew Id been there before and know now that it is possibly the first ancient place I ever went to.
The second time I came here I bought a family ticket to the gardens only, this allowed me access to not only Plas Newydd burial chamber but also Bryn yr Hen Bobl burial chamber, well..... I say access, but that's not strictly true.
Last Sunday, with sunshine being all the rage right now, my daughter and I went for my third meet and greet with Plas Newydd burial chamber.
We drove strait into the large car park and parked as far from the road as we could, from here the top of the biggest dolmen can be seen, just.
From the car park you can either jump brazenly over the fence and leg it down to the chambers before they drag you away kicking and screaming, oops, wrong place and time. Or you can walk nonchalantly over to the gate that leads to where you want to go, find it locked and have to climb over anyway, then continue with extreme nonchalance down to the stones. Or walk back to the road, and go in the other entrance, then you can walk straight to it, no climbing no sneaking, nonchalance is the key, act entitled, that's what they say.
The big dolmens capstone is a whopper, from a certain angle both capstones look to be part of a single bigger stone, broken in two for their present purpose. The ivy that has so choked the stones in the past are gone, Phil and me sit in the shade under the big stone and talk of silly things, like the negatives encountered whilst canoeing.
The stones are great, they take me back to Brittany, the land of big dolmens. But my attention is forever being dragged away, partly by the carpet of flowers under our feet, which philli is loathe to tread on, but mostly to the panoramic display across the Menai Straits, Snowdonia. I can pick out individual peaks of the Carneddau, Foel Grach, Yr Elen, Carnedd llewelyn and Dafydd, Pen Yr Ole Wen and down into the Ogwen valley. Further along is the massive bulk of Snowdon and near neighbours, further still Mynnydd Mawr the Nantle ridge and off in the far hazy distance are The Rivals.
A very good first site of the day, beauty and nostalgia, I must be getting old.
Coflein says this about the larger southern ring cairn.........
An oval penannular grassy ring bank measures overall 19.5m (N-S) by c.14m, open on the E where there is a gap 6m wide. The stony turfed-over bank has a maximum width of about 6m and an average height of c.0.5m. On the N part of the ring bank are set two small boulders, 2.5m apart, which appear to flank another gap though, in fact, the bank between them is only slightly lower than elsewhere. The interior is uneven.
and this about the smaller one.......
A slightly oval ring bank surrounding a sunken interior lies adjacent to a farm track.
The overall dimensions of the feature are 13m (N-S) by 12.2m, the interior 6.5m (N-S) by 6m. The crest of the stony turf-grown bank is 0.2m high above the exterior but 0.75m above the sunken interior. A small stony mound lies adjacent to the bank, on the NW.
Coflein also calls them possibles, but that they are bronze age funerary monuments.
Easier to find than I anticipated, though their not on any map but you'll still need an OS map though.
They are wildly different in size, the larger one is like many other ring cairns I've seen but the smaller one is, well, its very small, and that sunken interior. There are stones poking out of the grass where the smaller one abuts the farm track, weather they are part of the cairn or part of the road I couldn't say. This may be private property but I encountered no people and no barriers.
Parking was obtained on the B5121 to the north west of the cairn by the overgrown entrance to a footpath. But ignore the footpath and walk south down the road, then enter a field through the gate and walk across it, the cairn is in the next field. Its easy enough to get to with an OS map.
This is a good cairn, at least six feet high, made of white limestone like stones. Coflein says it has two trees growing on it, and there is a large boulder on it as well. Typically there are now more than two trees, and the boulder count has grown to three, though the other two are much smaller.
I was really impressed with this cairn, I was expecting it to be much flatter, and the biggest boulder must have taken some great effort to get it up there, effort taken by a tractor or something I presume.
En route back to the car I took a different route across a recently ploughed field, I found a stone that is too flat and smooth on one side and a stoneware jar, it is now on the kitchen window with some small Naffodils in it.
150 meters east are two ring cairns, to where I'm off to next.
With your shiny Ordnance survey map these two barrows should be very easy to find despite the densely packed trees, they are only ten yards from the side of the road and one of the barrows is helpfully massive, three meters high.
The larger of a pair of barrows (see also Nprn306939), 23m NW-SE - 26m in diameter and 3.0m high, truncated by a modern field boundary on the SE.
Upon opening, in 1908, the mound revealed a central collection of calcined human and animal bones, a possibly secondary in-urned cremation and a further deposit of animal bones and sherds.
the lesser of a pair of barrows (see also Nprn306938), greatly mutilated, 16-17m in diameter and c.1.0m high. A NW-SE trench has been driven through the mound.
I would only add, oh the trees, the god damn trees.
A round barrow, 14m in diameter and 1.3m high, excavated 1899, producing a possibly disturbed cremation.
I will add just a few things. South east a few hundred yards is Coed Bron Fawr barrow, 3 meters high.
A couple hundred yards west is what looks like another barrow, but Coflein assures us it is a garden feature, nudge, nudge.
If not for the trees on the west side of the road the barrow would enjoy a good view if the Clwydian range.
Grassy mound in field.
I came across this place on the portal, and couldn't quite believe that such a place could go entirely overlooked by us. So I remedied this immediately, give or take six months.
It's no wonder we'd never heard of it , it's not on any map, but, of course my mate Coflein knew all about it. this is what he said.....
Hut circle measuring 8m diameter internally defined by a 1.5m wide bank faced with orthostatic limestone slabs up to 1m high. There are two opposed entrances, on the E and W, each flanked by orthostats, on the N and S sides respectively.
A line of orthostats to the immediate NW of the circle runs NE-SW
At SH 80008092, to the NE of the above, is a small depression, possibly a second hut or pond but more likely a quarry hollow.
Two entrances? in a round house? not heard of that before, ever.
There is no where good to park. I'd Google street viewed the area so I knew I was there when I got there, but it didn't help with parking, the small road only leads to three houses, all with Private property no parking signs. So I decided to be equally as helpful and took up half a passing place. It was at the top of the road and it's not like there's even enough traffic to warrant a passing place, so there you are.
Eric and me had been laid up all weekend with the mother of all colds and neither of us was back on top form. So we hobbled off, well overdressed for the weather in the direction of the trees that hide this little known wonder of Llandudno.
We were not on a footpath, and after we'd climbed over the wall I'm not at all sure if we were trespassing or not. Like it's ever mattered to me.
There was a path on the other side of the wall, and parallel to it, sheltered by wind twisted Beech trees (I think) the effect was to simultaneously be afraid of and in awe of the woods. Such feelings are often evoked in these places.
Then, through the trees, I spied some stones, we headed for them despite not knowing if these were them, they were them.
Now I am here I am even more surprised that no ones been here before. This is much better than most of North Wales hut circles, this is more like Dartmoor.
Some of the bigger stones are at least a meter high, and it looks like it's got two entrances, east and west, but not directly opposite each other, I dismissed it as missing stones, but Coflein says looks aint deceiving, two entrances. That could get drafty.
In the centre of the circle is a campfire spot, (probably right on top of the iron age hearth)often used it seems, but there's not much litter so the midnight revellers at least clean up after them selves.
I saw the line of stones heading away north east, and I saw the hollow that is most probably a small quarry, but they're gnats on a dinosaurs behind here, the hut circle is really very good.
From the large car park north west of Hound Tor, start off heading for the massive spread of rocks, but, keeping them on your left, head away from them, the cairn circle stones will appear soon.
The cist in the centre of the circle is three quarters still there, one long side slab has gone astray. What is left is a sofa shaped place to sit, so I sit watching the clouds, the people climbing on the Tor, and the odd walker who passes the stones and me by.
The stones of the circle are between a foot or two high, in places they are contiguous, reminding me of far off Moel Ty Uchaf. There is a well worn gap on the west side of the circle, it looks like an entrance, if it even had an entrance ?
The placement of the circle is terrific, Dartmoor's high rocky Tors surround completely, it feels like the most quintessentially Dartmoor place I've yet seen on my handful of trips to this far off land.
Hound Tor is close by to the north east, it is by far the biggest of the rocky tors I've been to, that's not many, but big it still is. The high rocks entice me over to climb them, but I resist and make do with a slow walk among them. Dartmoor has really grown on me today, ensuring another visit, but hopefully not such a long wait this time.
Oh, one more thing, the whole western side of the cairn circle has gone, leaving the ring open on one side, it's........noticeable, but not a problem as the rest makes up for it.
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.
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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.