Trig point of Cadair Berwyn, photographed by Charles Hawes

A wet walk in the Berwyn range, visiting the stone circle of Moel-Ty-Uchaf

September 3, 2017 · 13 comments

A circular 10 mile walk in the Berwyn Range visiting the stone circle of Moel Ty Uchaf, the summit of Cadair Berwyn and getting very wet in the process.

Date walked: 24th June 2017

Map used: OS Explorer 255 Llangollen and Berwyn

Distance: around 10 miles

See: CPAT historic landscape walks © Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust: available at


On June 1st I had an arthroscopy on (in?) my left knee in St Joseph’s hospital near Newport.

Sorry for the lack of blood and gore but I was sedated at the time

For the technically minded here is my surgeons aide-memoir.

OK, so this may not be much clearer but its the best I can offer.

I gather everything went according to plan and I was completely happy (well, apart from not being given a bikki with my post-op cup of tea) with my treatment.  (Price on application – it was either that or a 26 plus week waiting list).

Since then I had been semi-religiously doing the exercises suggested in the leaflet issued by the hospital and taking short walks and one or two longer ones without any problems. This was the first “serious” walk I had tried since the operation.

Those of you who have read my last couple of posts will know that I had come to the Berwyn range with Bob in May; in consideration for what was then my cartilage-damaged knee we had taken things easy and had avoided tackling any of the main peaks of these splendid hills. So the combination of finding a walk visiting several sites of archaeological interest and taking in the highest point in the range with visiting my mother in Montgomery, which was half way to Llandrillo seemed an auspicious occasion to deal with my Berwyn unfinished business.

The walk starts in the village of Llandrillo which boasts two pubs. I chose to stay the night before at the very popular Dudley Arms.

The Dudley Arms Llandrillo, photographed by Charles Hawes

I recommend it to you. It had good beer, good pub food and a nice atmosphere; order several packets of crisps on busy nights- it took a long while to get the meals out.

The forecast for the next day was for rain. And rain it did. All day. Mostly heavily.

Only slightly daunted, I headed off after a hearty cooked breakfast (sans black pudding), leaving my car conveniently parked near a toilet block (useful to change back into dry clothes in due course).

Car park at Llandrillo, photographed by Charles Hawes

A  tarmac No Through Lane led gently up through fields where the pelting rain didn’t appear to bother the sheep…

Sheep near Llandrillo, photographed by Charles Hawews

Mind you, they may well have been thinking that it was a pretty shit day

… or put a pretty calf off its breakfast.

Walk to Moel ty Uchaf stone circle, photographed by Charles Hawes

At least its breakfast was under cover

The lane became a wide stone track…

Walk to Moel ty Uchaf stone circle, photographed by Charles Hawes

I was glad of the well-drained surface

… which ascended for around 500 feet, fording a couple of (thankfully shallow) streams,  to a crossways of routes where I turned right.

Walk to Moel ty Uchaf stone circle, photographed by Charles Hawes

The low stone walls here had been re-enforced by slabs and then protected  by a stock fence that would have kept passing cattle from bashing them down.

Walk to Moel ty Uchaf stone circle, photographed by Charles Hawes

There wasn’t much to see – I have to say something to you

In keeping my eyes out (strange expression isn’t it) for the stone circle it seems  I missed a couple of cists (small burial chambers). I found a clear path up to the circle, though.

Walk to Moel ty Uchaf stone circle, photographed by Charles Hawes

As I reached the circle, so did a group of walkers from Chester; we obliged each other by wetting our cameras for some pics.

Moel ty Uchaf stone circle

I was already wishing that I had packed my decent waterproofs and not this rubbish one from Montane which is only any use for a light shower.

Here’s what the Clwyd-Powys Archeological Trust’s notes say about it.

Moel Ty Uchaf stone circle, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’m getting a bit twitchy about getting my camera wet – it doesn’t like it

(dating around 2000 BC) “The stone circle is around 12 metres across and is composed of 41 surviving stones which have been set on edge so that most are touching, with a general alternation of a larger stone followed by one or two smaller stones. There are two obvious gaps in the circle, which may be the result of robbing. Inside the circle there is a slight mound up to 5 metres across and 0.3 metres high which has been disturbed, probably by antiquarian investigations. Moel Ty Uchaf is an unusual site which may have had a burial and ritual function.”

On a clear day the views from here are described as ” extensive with an impressive skyline”. Ha!

Near the circle is said to be a Bronze Age platform cairn. I wandered about for a bit in the thistly field, not really seeing anything very clearly.

Walk near Moel Ty Uchaf, photographed by Charles Hawes

I did come across a pile of stones. But it may have just been a pile of stones.

Walk near Moel-ty-Uchaf, photographed by Charles Hawes

On the other hand it might have been neolithic

I pressed on, passing another pile of stones, thinking that perhaps I needed to abandon the archaeological aspect of the walk in favour of a Trudge Through The Rain And Hope I don’t Get Lost approach.

Cist, cairn, or just a pile of stones?

I passed one stone with the inscription SPQR.

I took this to be a good joke

As I climbed, so my visibility deteriorated, but my path remained clear.

Path to Cadair Bronwen from LLandrillo, photographed by Charles Hawes

If somewhat squelchy

Over the next couple of miles I began to enter a meditative state with little to stimulate my sight or mind. It was actually quite pleasant.

Path to Cadair Bronwen from Llandrillo, photographed by Charles Hawes

Transcending the weather

I was approaching the ridge of the Berwyn Range. Near the top at Bwlch Maen Gwynedd a gate presented a choice of a half a mile detour to reach the summit of Cadair Bronwen.

Bwlch Maen Gwynedd, Berwyn Range, photographed by Charles Hawes

It was no choice at really as I would not have benefited from any view and the promise from my notes of seeing: “a burial cairn 23 metres in diameter, now partly hidden beneath a modern walkers cairn. A large natural boulder to the south-west is known as Bwrdd Arthur, or Arthur’s Table” wasn’t enough to entice me to walk the additional mile.

I turned right, grateful for the thick plastic webbing and sleepers that kept me off the sodden peaty ground for a bit.

Path to Cadair Berwyn from Bwlch Maen Gwynedd, photographed by Charles Hawes

From here it was just under a mile to the trig point at 2,713 feet of Cadair Berwyn, with only the occasional sheep for company.

Near Cadair Berwyn, photographed by Charles Hawes

We do, though, as you know, like sheep

The wind had picked up now and I was beginning to feel a bit chilly, so I didn’t linger at the Trig Point for my selfie.


Cadair Berwyn, photographed by Charles Hawes

This was the turning point of the walk as my route now turned due West; as far as I recall this meant I had the full force of the wind and the rain blasting my face.  I’ve had more fun.

Over the next couple of miles the camera was taken out just twice.

Path from Cadair Berwyn to Llandrillo, photographed by Charles Hawes

Lets look on the bright side; I’m not lost

The little stream of Nant Cwm Tywyll gave my boots a clean and added a little to the moisture that was wicking into my socks .

Nanmt Cwm Tywyll near Cadair Berwyn, photographed by Charles Hawes

Hey, think positive

Turning north, still gently descending, the visibility improved somewhat.

View over the Ceiriog valley photographed by Charles Hawes

The condition of the ground, however, did not improve. At one point a puddle proved to be about 2 feet deep; I lost any doubt at this point that my feet were, indeed, in a bath of muddy water.

This wasn’t that puddle

Near the edge of the moor I encountered three guys who looked as soaked as me who were practicing for an imminent ascent of Kilimanjaro or some such mountain. I bet it will not be as wet.  And then, joy of joys, I was returned to a forestry track for the last mile-and-a bit.

Track near Llandrillo photographed by Charles Hawes

I won’t say that this was the most enjoyable walk I have ever done. In fact its probably near the bottom of that quite large list.  But I had reassured myself on one count. I had had no pain or other discomfort in my knee. And after a trip to the public conveniences,  I briefly experienced that great and unique pleasure of putting on clothes that are dry. So not a bad day, really.






John Kingdon September 3, 2017 at 5:24 pm

I can see why you paid for the op – being laid up through the Veddw opening season would have meant hiring in labour. Which is an oblique way of asking whether you have considered claiming some degree of tax relief. Very glad the knee held up though you were risking it a bit walking 5 miles from anywhere and then 5 miles back. But that’s you, of course! And we all know you laugh in the face of bad weather, always undeterred in your mission to entertain your loyal readers.

Will your next blog be about your (honest) thoughts walking from your office to the car park for the last time? Hope you have a long, happy and healthy retirement. If you get bored, open a tea room!

Charles September 3, 2017 at 5:30 pm

Yes, it would have somewhat hampered my ability to book the trip walking in France that Bob and I have booked in 3 weeks time, too. Me, I laugh in the face of all adversity. I did have my phone with me though (though did I have a signal?)
Good idea for a retirement walking post. I’d be short on pics, though.

Anne Wareham September 3, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Have never understood the pleasure. Not in the knee op, the walking. This does not exactly illuminate that question. XXxx

Charles September 4, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I think on days like these there is a particular challenge of tackling and experiencing and accepting the elements. The rougher side of nature.

Ian Thorpe September 4, 2017 at 7:27 am

Very good news about your knee, Charles. Worth the wetness to find out it was fine. Like you, I have a hierarchy of waterproofs – such a pity that lightweight ones tend to be pretty useless in a real blow.

Charles September 4, 2017 at 2:53 pm

I had sent this back because it leaked and they tested it and said it was fine. Makes no sense. It Only weighs a few ounces so I should just pack it as a wind proof really.

julia fogg September 4, 2017 at 11:53 am

Good luck for all your future walking

Charles September 4, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Thanks Julia. Back to France in a few weeks time.

Paul Steer September 4, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Thank you for sharing the arthroscopic pics ! They look like planets in the outer reaches of our solar system. Good that he was confident of a full recovery with no restrictions. ?

Charles September 4, 2017 at 2:47 pm

I thought someone would enjoy them. I am sure that he understood them. Time will tell soon as to whether I’m cured. I’m optimistic.

Valerie L September 4, 2017 at 2:10 pm

You were very brave,nay foolhardy to attempt that walk after only a few weeks after your hip op. Had the same a couple of years ago and it was great to walk properly again. Now recovering from hip replacement and so am enjoying your walk vicariously, and in the dry.

Valerie L September 4, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Knee not hip.

Charles September 4, 2017 at 2:58 pm

I had been doing quite a bit of less demanding walks post op, so I hope I wasn’t being too daft. Hope your new hip works well. That’s a biggie.

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)