Standing stone on the Upper Ceiriog Way near llanarmon dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Another circular walk in the foothills of the Berwyn Range

July 23, 2017 · 17 comments

A 10 mile walk  through upper part of the Ceiriog valley and its surrounding hills, encountering some very bad-tempered signage and some fascinating stones.

Date walked: 10th May 2017

Distance: around 10 miles

Map used: OS Explorer 255 Llangollen and Berwyn

Guide to walks: Walks around the Berwyn Mountains and the Ceiriog valley by David Berry

***********

Bob and I were staying at The Hand at Llanarmon – a most agreeable place in all respects. Breakfast was top-notch.

Having managed yesterdays little walk without any problems from my cartilage-torn left knee we gave ourselves a more ambitious hike for the day with plans to take in a series of waterfalls in a gorge above the village.  It was a beautiful morning and promised to be  a hot day, so having lathered on some sun barrier cream we set off from the pub along a road that just serves the surrounding farms.

Walking from Llanarmon, Ceiriog valley, North wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

Always a good idea to check the map before starting out

I had the unpleasant experience early on of being reminded that this isolated place benefited from Superfast broadband whilst we, just 5 miles from the M4 in South-Wast Wales, are left with copper wires and rubbish speeds (and will remain so until at least the end of the year according to my latest letter from one of the Welsh Governments officials).

Superfast broadband fibre junction, Llanarmon, photographed by Charles Hawes

We have one of these just 100 yards away from our house but they are not connecting us

It was some comfort that the local sheep were staging a sit down protest at this basic denial of my Human Rights (I reckon Articles 3 and 7 apply).

Shhep near Llanarmon Dyfryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

They might look placid but they are very, very angry

We passed a sign nailed to a tree that was confusing….

Is this an invitation to watch “R” loving “S” ? Or to witness a proposal? Or what?

… and one that was very clear if a bit shouty.

Non public persons driving cars that are not 4×4’s are welcome?

We thought we’d leave the road for a bit and cross the river Ceiriog to take a footpath…

Ceiriog river near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

… but just after crossing the bridge a young farmer in his Land Rover stopped to advise us that the footpath had been closed. He was perfectly friendly and we stopped and chatted about the price of organic lambs as you do.  He lived in the rather fine property called Dolwen that we could see across the field.

VDolwen, near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

The road climbed gently, reaching an abandoned chapel at Pentre.

Chapel at Pentre, near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Established 1875

On the perimeter wall of the chapel was a sign for nearby self-catering accommodation ….

Chapel near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, Wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

…..and a post box from the reign of King George V.

George V post box near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Put up between 1910 and 1936

Lurking in the little lane  that forks off here was a BT Openreach van, bringing Superfast broadband to these isolated sheep farmers. (Look, if you have had enough winging from me about this why not start a petition to get us decent broadband:’ “Speed up NP16 6PH”)

I should be happy for them, but I’m not.

The road came to an end about half a mile after Pentre, and we turned up a steep track, serving the property called Swch-cae-rhiw, where the owners, in typical Welsh fashion, had loose barking dogs and a field with several wrecks of old cars.

Swch-cae-rhiw photographed by Charles Hawes

We “hello’d” the owner cheerfully who reciprocated by shouting at the dogs to leave us be.

This stone track was edged, unusually, with some scraggy Scots pines….

Track near Swch-cae-rhiw, photographed by Charles Hawes

Well, I think that they are Scots pines at any road

… which, though providing us with little shade, framed the view nicely of the gorge where the  waterfalls lay.

Gorge of the upper Ceiriog river, photographed by Charles Hawes

We left the track and continued to climb up the steep hillside.

The upper Ceiriog valley, north wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

By the time that the ground was levelling off we realised that we must have missed the path for the waterfalls (to be fair to us it is not shown on the map). We couldn’t face going back so thought we might find  a track to them further on.

We were on open moorland, now, a landscape of reedy grasses,…

…heather and occasional isolated trees.

We did make an attempt to find the path that would have joined ours from the waterfall walk, but the lumpy, bumpy and somewhat squelchy terrain defeated us. We retreated to a footbridge over the Ceiriog to have a break and a bite to eat.

Upper reaches of the Ceiriog river, north wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

Having crossed the Ceiriog we turned sharp right and had a mile or so on a gently rising track before encountering what proved to be an onslaught of rather bad-tempered signs.

Signs on the Plas Nantyr estate photographed by Charles Hawes

We looked around and could see no evidence that we were being watched

This sign seems to be the harbinger for an estate where the  landlord not only wishes to intimidate, but also wishes us to know what properties belong to him (this hostility  is very likely to be from a man).  We passed several houses where all the woodwork was painted a Farrow and Ball blue.

Cottage on the Plas Nantyr estate photographed by Charles Hawes

In between these, were more signs that only the near-blind could not fail to notice.

Sin on the Plas Nantyr estate photographed by Charles Hawes

Some of the houses were quite modest….

Cottage on the Plas Nantyr estate photographed by Charles Hawes

… others rather substantial….

Property on the Plas Nantyr estate photographed by Charles Hawes

… but all of them gave off a strong whiff of money being spent on them.

Ty'n Twmpath on the Plas Nantyr estate photographed by Charles Hawes

A study of the map suggested that the focus for all this aggression and assertiveness could be Plas Nantyr – a house out of sight to us but where we could hear and see large earth-moving equipment tearing down some walls. It was only in writing this up that I was able to confirm my suspicions.  In fact this estate was once owned by the C14th revolutionary Owain Glyndwr and had been offered for sale 5 years ago for £5.75 million. Whoever bought it clearly had money to spare.

From the driveway of the estate our track was upgraded to a proper road that descended gently to a junction with a chapel on the corner.

Saron presbyterian church, Nantyr, photographed by Charles Hawes

A be-suited gentleman came out to greet us, believing that we were his late viewers. He took it well that we were not and was quite happy for us to have a butchers. Inside was a perfectly preserved (if somewhat damp) interior of stunning simplicity.

Saron presbyterian church, Nantyr, photographed by Charles Hawes

“WATCH” * “PLEASE PRAY”

I wondered when Pastor David G Owens last sermon had been delivered.

Saron presbyterian church, Nantyr, photographed by Charles Hawes

I was amazed that the diocese was putting this place on the market without even bothering to obtain outline planning permission for its rehabilitation. With a ball park figure of around £70,000 it seemed like an amazing bargain. But with property, as you know, all is not necessarily what it seems.

From the chapel our path turned right, crossing the little River Teirw and joining the Upper Ceiriog Way (out of interest Offa’s Dyke Path also passes very close to here; I will be back). According to a file I found on the web, we were now travelling on ‘Sarn Sws’ (‘The Kissing Way’) – an ancient road that used to run from Caersws through to Chester.

We were greeted by a resurgence of signing.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

They really don’t like off-roaders in this neck of the woods

At first our track climbed steeply on bedrock.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

I imagined that this must have been an old cart track, though if so  any load would need to have been well tied down.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

More likely, perhaps, an ancient Drovers road.

Then a perforated standing stone caught my eye and my imagination was taken up with the role of the holes in the stone.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

First thoughts were  about a line of fencing – perhaps they might have been used for straining wire?

Then, by a clump of gorse, another similar stone had three holes, not aligned in any way with the first.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Then it all got quite weird, with stones appearing in piles on the tops of fence posts.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Our gorse lined path levelled off somewhat ….

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

but the mystery of the stones continued.

Another megalith appeared with four holes drilled through…..

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. and then several more.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

They clearly had a relationship  to this track but I could not figure out what. These were very heavy objects – it seemed inconceivable to me that they were just fence posts. Boundary markers? If anyone knows do tell.

And what was going on with these obviously recently piled up stones on some of the wooden fence posts?

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Is this art or just a walkers whim?

Cutting through these speculations, we started to encounter more anti-off -roader signs – this time from the police.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

With so many staples, not so easily removed!

Some of these were accompanied by modern concrete megaliths.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

At Rhyd Caledwynt we had a fine view over to the left of the eponymous valley.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

We checked our map – our path continued south, now passing an occasional property…

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

… and still accompanied by these mysterious standing stones.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

We were descending now into the Ceiriog valley, the track now serving enough properties to warrant a metalled surface.  Coming up the hill we were greeted by a pack of well-behaved dogs and their cheerful owner.

Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

The next property boasted a new tennis court which felt somewhat incongruous in the landscape.

Apologies; you’ve seen very little of Bob on this walk

And then, suddenly, we had a wonderful view of Llanarmon. And in time for a pre-dinner snooze. What a stimulating day.

View to Llanarmon from the Upper Ceiriog Way near Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog, photographed by Charles Hawes

Post scripts

  1. You haven’t heard anything about my knee cos it didn’t give me any trouble. Which was a little disconcerting as I was about to have an arthroscopy
  2. We did play some crib but were fairly evenly balanced so its was not worth mentioning.
  3. Our drinks bill for the two days was around £100. Very modest.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB!

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

David Marsden July 23, 2017 at 7:13 am

A quick look at Rightmove will show there are dozens of chapels for sale all over Wales, sometimes with planning permission for use as a home but often not. Can’t help with the holey stones, I’m afraid. There are similar ones in the Lakes but they are generally rather obvious gateways and the holes once supported wooden, horizontal poles. Dave p.s. You’ll be relieved to hear, and pleased, that I have superfast broadband.

Reply

Charles July 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Yes, I regularly come across abandoned chapels on my Welsh walks. John’s link for the holes is interesting. Am giddy with pleasure about your broadband.

Reply

John Kingdon July 23, 2017 at 9:42 am

Nice photos though I notice that you maintained your penchant for photographing rears with the shot of the dog owner. And ever-ready to assist with your questions, I offer you https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_cannon. Easier than typing my own explanation (and superfaster too).

Oddly I used to have BT Infinity 2 which should have delivered around 70Mbps but usually only got a miserly 30-40. So I saved some money with a downgrade to BT Infinity 1 which consistently delivers 50Mbps with a guaranteed minimum of 45. Through the same fibre optic things. So, you see, slower can sometimes be faster.

Reply

Charles July 23, 2017 at 1:29 pm

What an interesting link. Thank you. I had never heard of rock cannons. It does seem possible, but it doesn’t make entire sense that all those I passed were standing up. So pleased for you about your broadband speeds. The advantage of living in an urban environment?

Reply

Kev the Yank July 25, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Thanks to the link to the stone cannons article, John… quite fascinating!!!!

Reply

John Kingdon July 25, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Thanks Kevin. I think Charles was wondering whether my “answer” applied to the “standing stones”. There are quite a few references on the interwebs to them; I chose the simplest. There are cannon flat on the ground, cannon on slopes – where the holes may be vertical-ish or near horizontal – and, occasionally, cannon in upright stones, when the holes will be drilled slightly downwards. Even with upright cannons, there were ways to make fuses between the holes if people wanted to. It’s surprising what you can do with goose fat and superfast broadband! 🙂

Reply

Charles July 26, 2017 at 8:34 am

I wish I had looked more closely at the holes. But why have all these cannon no where near any significant population?

Reply

John Kingdon July 28, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Cannon tended to be near quarries (where there was a supply of “black powder”). I guess there was also a danger element from that “black powder”. I doubt you’d want explosives in the stone at Veddw. Indeed the prevalence of superfast broadband in north Wales meant that video footage of the cannon being set off could be transmitted to habitations very quickly.

There seem to have been several cannon underground in mines where the sound would reverberate before escaping in what appears to have been an amplified manner audible for miles around. I don’t know if all these vertical stones you encountered were rock cannon but there are examples of vertical ones and I cannot think of any alternative reason for those holes. I may be wrong but at least I’m wromantic. (Crafty literary allusion there)

robert pinder July 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Ta for the your kind wishes.

My intention for my 62nd year is to walk with my head up.more than a metaphor!

Reply

Charles July 23, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Good plan!

Reply

Paul Steer July 23, 2017 at 9:50 pm

My band is neither broad nor fast. I like the protesting sheep.

Reply

Nick July 24, 2017 at 6:48 am

We don’t have “Offroad Vehicals” in NZ – is this Welsh for Vehicles? I know its pedantry but I hate troll spelling.

Reply

Charles July 24, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Excellent. It’s been a while since someone picked me up on a spelling. It will be corrected!

Reply

Nick July 26, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Yes it was a misspelt angry sign – in NZ it would be splattered with shotgun pellets so at least you are safer in that beautiful countryside!

Reply

Charles July 26, 2017 at 9:50 pm

I quite like the idea of someone blasting the signs with a shotgun. Though I do know off-roaders can be a menace.

Reply

Kev the Yank July 25, 2017 at 5:20 pm

Charles, the “Vehicals” misspelling was not your fault… it is on one of the mean old signs!! We have broadband out in our lake area, btw…

Reply

Charles July 26, 2017 at 8:31 am

Oh, thanks Kevin. I withdraw my offer to go and correct the spelling, then. Thanks for the smug comment about broadband, too.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)