Marhofn 133.07 - May 2005

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On completing the Welsh Marilyns

Dewi Jones

With only 506 Marilyns under my belt, I obviously don't qualify for the Hall and am not likely to reach the magic 600. Is there an ante-room in which Welsh completers can bask?

One day in May last year I drove up the Cothi valley from Pumsaint. After parking the car in a handy little quarry, I nipped over a couple of fences and climbed quickly until I was out of sight of the road. I was then able to stroll to the top of Crugiau Merched and so complete my round of the Welsh Marilyns, ending a journey that started in 1950 when I went up our local hill, Moel-y-gest, with my brother.

The same brother was with me on Brandy Hill - a 'drive-up' to the west of Carmarthen - in 2001. We had pushed through a hedge and were heading across a field towards what we thought was the highest point, when a tractor came chugging up the rise ahead of us. I looked for Alwyn but he had done a runner and I was left to face the music. Amazingly there was none, and after a convivial chat the farmer showed me the trig pillar, which because of dense bracken and brambles would have been hard to find without his help.

There is much discussion of access problems amongst Marilyn baggers, but only two Welsh hills struck me as being particularly awkward. Myarth in section 32A is ringed with Private notices. Eventually I approached it from a layby on the A40, keeping close to the woodland edge until I was able to cut directly to the top. Pheasant shooting was taking place disconcertingly close by. Pheasants are also the problem on Upper Park in section 31A. Here I'd parked on the minor road to the east of Castle Caereinion and used the cover of hedges to get into woodland, only to find myself in the midst of pheasant-rearing pens, with hundreds of young birds scuttling from me in all directions. Fortunately there was no keeper around, so by staying in the woods and off the tracks I was able to get up and down without being accosted.

I was only once confronted with a GOML and that was approaching Carnedd Wen (31A) from the south. The farmer's wife at Clegyrnant tried to turn me back, but as I was on a bridle track I was able to brazen it out. That was in my mountain-biking days, and my reward that day was a fantastic downhill run eastwards to Nant yr Eira.

But that is enough of the negative. One of the reasons why I tackle lists like this is that it takes me onto hills that I might not otherwise visit, and I am rarely disappointed. For instance the Clwydian hills are good value, as is nearby Moel y Gamelin and its attendant tops. I also remember a fine outing over Carneddau near Builth, and the shorter walk past the lakes to Garreg-hir in mid Wales. I discovered that it is possible to walk the ridges between the valleys of south Wales and not see a soul, nor a sign of the industrial towns below, I have watched the sun set from Carn Fadryn and seen the races of a spring tide sweep about Bardsey from the top of Mynydd Enlli. These are the things that make it all worthwhile.

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