by Chris Brooks, Heritage Action

Credit and © C. Brooks

I visited this gorgeous little cromlech in May 2010 during my 3 day tour of South West Wales. It’s a dramatic part of the country, with both mountainous regions and spectacular coastlines. It also just happens to have a concentration of prehistory equal to anywhere in the country. A burial chamber called Gwal-y-Filiast or ‘The Grayhound’s Kennel’ is one such place and a fine example to boot!

I parked in a lay-by on the Login road at 51 54 09.22N & 4 38 43.73W which is off another minor road between Llanglydwen and Cefn-y-Pant. At the time of writing the lay-by had plenty of room for parking but had been partially covered in builders’ rubble, presumably to stop large numbers of travellers from parking there.  This could be a problem for subsequent visitors if the whole lay-by is covered in the future. There may be other places to park further up the road if this becomes the case.

Walking back from the lay-by (away from the junction with the other minor road) for about 250m you will find a track on your right. There was a little wooden sign when I was here last but it was difficult to read. With the right sort of vehicle you could probably drive down the track but I wasn’t going to risk it in my car and so off I trotted.

In May everything is coming to life and turning green. The birds are flitting to and fro through the trees and bushes, busy with their nests. Although a little overcast the weather was warm and it wasn’t long before I was down to my t-shirt. At this point the track falls gently down and curves around to the left.

 

Credit and © C. Brooks

After a short distance you arrive at a little community of buildings where there is a lovely, and I assume natural, pond and a tree with a beautifully huge fungus growing from it. Just stand for a while by the wooden gate, a little way in front of you there is a giant mushroom carved from a tree on the right hand side of the track.

Go through the gate and carry on down the lane. The higher land on the left is pasture but on the right the land drops away steeply towards the Afon Taf which can be heard faintly amongst the twittering birds and wind rush in the trees. At this point there seems to be a lot of fallen trees and branches obstructing the path, not deliberately placed there and very easily negotiated.

The track steepens even further and the river can be clearly seen and heard down to the right and the track continues to bend to the left. As we approach another gate, this time metal, the ground becomes much more boggy. In the winter months I would imagine this to be much worse and could be quite slippery so care needs to be taken. The walk back up will be hard going too so bring a stick or cane. As it happened I found a really straight fallen branch that served the purpose.

I reckon the walk so far had been about a kilometre or so and just after the metal gate the track splits in two. A quick check of my map suggested that the left hand fork (which rises back up hill slightly) is the one to take and this is confirmed as the little cromlech comes into view nestled on the slopes of this lovely place.

Image credit and © C. Brooks

The cromlech is quite small, I would say no more than 2m at best. The cap stone sits atop of what was probably six small uprights (but could have been five) with now only four still in situ. Those at the front are slightly taller (about chest height) than those at the rear but because the chamber looks out over the river valley the cap stone remains relatively level. There is also room to sit in the chamber even for a slight oversized person such as myself. It also seems to be surrounded by a number of outliers which almost form a circle around the burial chamber. One large one in particular sits only a few meters away and I can not imagine it doesn’t have anything to do with it but I suppose the others could be natural.

Image credit and © C. Brooks

In this tree covered area everything is covered in moss and so quite often the hard face of these sort of places has been softened into an almost dreamy world. You can almost imagine the woodland animals and mythical creatures coming out to play when the humans have gone! I spent some time just being there and really didn’t want to leave. I am not one for feeling energies and all that stuff but I just like being there.

I took so many pictures (and a video) as I wanted to capture as much as I could to take it home with me. I always love the way the shape of these monuments change as you walk around them. Sometimes, looking back at the photographs now, it is hard to believe you are looking at a single place. Such a lovely site, highly recommended and worth the slog back up the hill to the car… just don’t forget your stick and your wellies.