Marhofn 84.04 - May 2002

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Ethics and Access in Wales

David Robinson

It was discovering RHB that inspired me to walk and climb in areas that I had never previously visited. Not realising how particular some baggers might be, I made my own rules. If I had been there, the hill got a tick; I didn't worry if sometimes I had not trespassed into a field to reach a trig point or convinced myself that I had actually stood on the very highest point. I was there for the hill, to look around and to enjoy the view - trees permitting. I've generally tried to return from a summit by a different route, though if I were to analyse the true position, I'd probably be rather disappointed.

I took one look at Caeliber Isaf (31B) and walked to the monument on Town Hill instead. Similarly, the padlocked gate to the track to the reservoir on Rhos Ymryson (31C), and the presence of an uncooperative farmer there, provoked an amble to the 312m trig point. I even motored round Carnmenellis (40) on a wet day. And if I don't get permission to visit Myarth (32A), I'll walk around it!

Generally, like David Purchase, I try to ask permission. This has been granted in Wales for Carneddol (30A), Hope Mountain (30C), Cefn Cenarth and Rhiw Gwraidd (31B), and simply to park my car for Mynydd Mawr (30B), Moel Gwy (30C), Carn Gafallt and Pen y Garn-goch (31C). Permission was sought but refused for Upper Park (31A), which I've not visited nor counted. I promised not to reveal the outcome of discussions (carried out in my best Welsh accent) with the owner of the 'doberman on patrol' at Fron on the bridleway approach to Gyrn Moelfre (30E). I simply kept a low profile on Mynydd Rhyd ddu (30C), Foel Offrwm (30D) and Allt y Main (30E) where, having been intercepted on my descent of the northern fields by the farmer on his ATV, I explained that I had found the right of way through the woods to be impassable and asked to return to the lane the way I had come, which was agreed to.

I had real problems with farm dogs on the approaches to Mynydd Drumau (32B), Craig y Castell (30F), Pegwn Mawr (31B) and Foel Goch (30D), where my wife Mary was bitten in the presence of the farmer and his wife, because 'she was carrying a walking pole' (cf. Marhofn 58 page 16 - same farm).

I also encountered problems with the open-cast coal site en route from Seven Sisters to Hirfynydd (32B) in spring 1999. The site was neither safe, secure nor properly signed. I suggest approaching from the north via Sarn Helen - if it still exists.

In my opinion, attractive and little-known hills in Wales are Garn Fadryn (30A), Foel Offrwm (30D), Garreg-hir (31A), Carneddau (31B), Allt yr Esgair (32A), Tor y Foel (32A) and Mynydd Allt-y-grug (32B). Garreg-hir was approached on a bridleway between lakes and returned via a rocky ridge - raven country and grand views. I started to list the less-than-attractive hills, but decided it might put off all but the most dedicated.

Finally, a definition of Marilyns: prominent high points with considerable cleavage between them.

Alan Dawson adds: I found it a bit depressing that on my first Welsh hill for three years I ran into a rampant walker-hater (with huge barking dog) at Fron on Gyrn Moelfre, on a right of way. I thought perhaps I was just unlucky, but it seems it's not uncommon. Anyway, I reluctantly asked and obtained permission (to park as well as walk) from a worker at the rambling settlement near Moelfre to the south. The ascent was fine, and with hindsight I wish I'd asked one of the paragliders near the summit to drop something nasty onto Fron from above. It's an excellent hill if you can get at it. While we're musing about Wales, anyone thinking of visiting 32C should be aware that there has been a sustained spell of car thefts and break-ins to walkers' cars in several parking spots in south Wales, especially within easy range of Merthyr Tydfil. Local police are apparently well aware of the problem, but their signs warning visitors are routinely removed.

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