Mynydd, Rhiw

The Neolithic axe ‘factory’ and an ancient fort.

with

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 this walk.

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 Pembrokshire coast.

 

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.)

 

5. 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.

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Many thanks to Eifion and Viv, for this walk.

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