Saturday, July 8, 2017

Today's Place to Daydream about: the Brecon Beacons

Since two of my favorite things are visiting castles and hiking in the mountains, I love Wales.

I have visited the north but never the south, so today I imagine South Wales and especially the South's highest hills, the Brecon Beacons.

The Brecon Beacons are not very tall – the tallest is Pen Y Far at 2907 feet (884 m) – but they are rugged in parts and include spectacular scenery.

There are bunch of lovely waterfalls, which have marvelous Welsh names like Sgwd Gwladys and Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn.

And an amazing array of castles. Here and at the top is Carreg Cennen. What you see was mostly built in the late 1200s by the Giffard family, but there was an earlier wooded fort on the site built by Rhys Ap Gryffydd around 1200. The castle was attacked by Welsh rebels during Owain Glyndwr's rebellion.

This is Castle Dinefwr, which is just four miles from Carreg Cennen. It was also an old wooden fort turned into a stone fortress in the 13th century, in this case Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd. Llywelyn's castle was then enlarged and remodeled by Edward I.

There are about a dozen medieval stone castles in the Brecon Beacons.

There are also several Iron Age hillforts and the only crannog in Wales, in Llangorse Lake. A crannog was a small, human-made island built in a lake or marsh to provide security in violent times; they were common in Ireland from the Bronze Age until the 17th century and not rare in Scotland. This one dates to around 800 CE.

Not far from the actual crannog, they have built a round house like what they think once stood on it.

This area was a major center of industrialization in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and you can still see old limestone mines, iron mines, hauling roads, railroad grades, and the Brecon Canal.

There are many great hikes, including some along the ridge tops and others through the valleys with the waterfalls. It would be a marvelous place to be on this fine summer evening.

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