Happy New Year to you all.
We hope to inject some joy into January by sharing with you some walk ideas written by our guest blogger Julie Brominicks the author of The Edge of Cymru. The best part is they are all accessible by public transport and each one will have a simple map for you to follow. We have 8 planned for you over the next few months, so look out for them on our social media channels. We want to inspire you explore our beautiful part of the world that little bit deeper.
Our first one is Moel Tŷ Uchaf, situated on the south border of Denbighshire just above the pretty village of Llandrillo.
‘Crustose, fruticose and foliose, pink, green and gold – each stone is an intricate lichen-scape. The wind has kissed and assaulted these stones for millennia. Yet four thousand years on, they still form a perfect circle on a hill between mountains and valley. Listen. A mechanical grunt lifts and then fades from a farm. Listen now. An argument between buzzard and crow. Listen again – only the wind. An old sound.
The Moel Tŷ Uchaf circle dates to the early Bronze Age when peoples arriving in small boats from the continent integrated with existing Neolithic populations. Gradually, gradually, new ways evolved. Metal axes replaced stone ones. And the old practise of burying many people in one tomb was replaced by cremation – or individual interments for important people. Like this one.
Just eleven metres diameter, this circle of forty-one closely packed stones had an entranceway and possibly contained a cist for a single body in the centre, where now there is just a hollow. The people who built it enjoyed a mild climate. Among them were leather workers, potters, and carpenters who lived in huts among crops of spelt, rye, oats, and barley, and tended horses, cattle and pigs. They would not have found the oatcakes and cheese I’m picnicking on particularly weird. Perhaps a daughter visited this tomb in the same way that I, three days ago, went to my Dad’s grave. Millennia have passed but we are not so different.
The valley farms are currently surrounded by livestock fields. Bear and wolves no longer live in the woods; the landscape being largely deforested, save for the straight-edged spruce plantations. Fences and walls are straight too. Not so the curvilinear stones, at one with the summits and slopes. The horizon is a ring of mountains – Yr Arenigau, Yr Aran, Y Carneddau, Y Berwyn – lumps and peaks that repeat the shapes of the stones. Above them, a ring of clouds.’
Bus. Llandrillo is served by the T3c. Not to be confused with the T3 that runs between Y Bermo and Wrecsam, the T3c is a local variant between Dolgellau and Corwen.
Walk The 8.5km circular walk from Llandrillo is moderately strenuous over boggy hill country. Basic map-reading skills are required. Choose a clear forecast – cloud can descend. On a bright autumn day, the moorland, trees and bracken provide a russet and tawny copper palette, and the silence is golden.
- Opposite the bus shelter take the waymarked path alongside the community centre and across the field to the lane. Turn right and follow it past Llechwedd.
- At the waymark post take the central route bearing uphill through conifer woods with a deciduous edge. Continue on this track, till it brings you clear of the woods.
- Proceed through right-hand gate, continuing along the track as it breasts the hillside till another gate brings you onto the moorland of Y Berwyn National Nature Reserve. Ahead of you rise the mountains – Cadair Bronwen, Cadair Berwyn and Moel Sych.
- Turn immediately left, keeping to the fence, on the farm track that is distinctive but not waymarked. Follow it as it peels away from the fence in a generally easterly direction heading towards and between the two lower hills at the end of the ridge. Reach another fence.
- Turn right and follow the track straight uphill along the fence to the top of Moel Pearce. Go through gate then immediately turn and head back downhill through the gate on the other side of the wall.
- Follow the path downhill as it bears in a north-westerly direction towards the corner of the conifer plantation. You will soon see Moel Tŷ Uchaf stone circle on a plateau ahead of you.
- Leave the path to reach it.
- Return to path and follow the Taith Tegid waymarks back to Llandrillo, along a beautiful track beneath oaks which frame views of the village.