The Neolithic axe
‘factory’ and an ancient fort.
Eifion & Viv Williams
A circular walk which
takes about an hour and a half, though we recommend that you build
in some time to stop and sit and enjoy the panoramic, beautiful
views that you will see. The first part of the walk
involves a long steep climb but then the rest of it is fairly easy.
In August, the yellow of the gorse, mixed with the purple heather,
is a sight to behold. There is much to interest the historian on
1. From the crossroads at
Rhiw, take the road signed ‘Sarn’ which takes you through the
village, passing the telephone box and the village hall. At the
junction turn left along the road also signed ‘Sarn’.
2. Take the narrow,
tarmac road up to your right, heading for the radar mast. Stay on
this steep road. Eventually it becomes a track, which takes you to
the summit of Mynydd Rhiw, where there is a trig point.
From this vantage
point, on a clear day, you can see much of North Wales. To the
west is Ireland and you are likely to see ferries crossing from
Holyhead. The three peaks of yr Eifl, (known in English as The
Rivals) are clearly visible to the NW. Closer to you is the
mountain, Garn Fadryn. Snowdonia spreads out majestically to the
NE with Snowdon itself the tallest peak. Looking Easterly, Porth
Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth), edges the huge Cardigan Bay. On the best
days you can see as far as St David’s Head at the tip of the
3.There are a number of tracks criss crossing the mountain here.
From the trig point, head towards ‘Hell’s Mouth’, cross over the
track you came up on. Follow this new path, which veers to the
left shortly joining another track. You should now be heading
towards Snowdon. Stay on this path, ignoring other tracks to your
left and right. Follow this track as it takes you gently, curving
down the mountain.
To your right on the
lower slope is the site of the ancient axe ‘factory’. This site
was discovered in 1959, during gorse burning and consists of
several round hollows where the suitable rocks were excavated and
flaked to produce various tools, such as axes and scrapers. These
were traded widely over a very long period during the Neolithic
and early Bronze ages. There has been more recent exploration
which has confirmed the earlier findings. To learn more about the
axe factory, check out Rhiw.com.
Axe Factory 2006
4. Walk through the National Trust car park at the bottom of the track
and onto the tarmac road. Turn right and after a few yards go
through a gap in the wall on your left. Climb a stile and find
yourself a sheltered spot amongst the large outcrop of rocks and
enjoy a perfect picnic or coffee spot.
One February morning
we sat in warm sunshine for about an hour, entertained firstly
by a pair of courting buzzards who swooped, glided and soared
around each other. Not to be outdone a pair of equally amorous
ravens put on a display but theirs consisted of loud honking
noises and a lot of plummeting and diving.
As you look down at
Porth Neigwl, you might ponder about its more familiar nickname
‘Hell’s Mouth’. Although the beach is now enjoyed by families
through the summer, and its waves provide surfers with many
challenges and fun, there is a side to these waters that is much
less benign. The wrecks of many, many sailing ships lie beneath
the sea here. It was a treacherous part of the coast in the days
of sail, and ships were trapped within the jaws of Hell’s Mouth
when the weather and the sea blew them off course or when they
made a mistake with their navigation. Once there, they could not
get out and the ships and crews, perished. R S Thomas the poet
wrote about this dangerous and cruel sea.
‘It has hard whips
That it cracks, and knuckles
To pummel you. It scrubs
And scours: it chews rocks
To sand: its embraces
Leave you without breath. Mostly
It is a stomach, where bones,
Wrecks, continents are digested’
(From ‘The Sea’ by RS Thomas. Distinguished
poet and former Rhiw resident.)
Return to the tarmac road (over the stile and through the gap in
the wall). Turn left and walk for about ¼ mile until you reach a
footpath sign on your right (This is besides a gateway signed Tyn
y Mynydd). Cross over the wall or go through the gate and follow
the path to the left passing behind a house.
6. Cross over a wall using a ladder stile, (take care it gets slippery
when wet). Follow a narrow track through gorse until it joins a
more distinctive track. Follow this track to the left. You
eventually pass some stoney outcrops on your left. If you climb up
to one of these and look down to your right (with your back to
Mynydd Rhiw) you will get your first sighting of the remains of
the ancient fort.
Look down and see a
small house with two tall chimneys. Behind and left of this house
is a field. The remains of the ancient fort are in the top left ¼
of this field. Llyn is covered in ancient burial chambers, hill
forts, stone hut circles and forts, like this one. Refer to
Rhiw.com for further information on these.
7. Follow the track which takes
you past two houses, the second of which is Conion Ganol.
(From here you have a closer view of the fort).
Go through a metal gate,
pass a white house ‘Conion’. The
track meets a tarmac road, turn left.
8. At the junction turn right into
the village of Rhiw, pass the village hall and the telephone box
on your right. This road takes you to the Rhiw crossroads where
you began this walk.
Many thanks to Eifion and Viv, for this walk.