In Search of Bluestones; The Preseli Hills, Pembrokeshire.

We had camped overnight at Whitesands, had the beach to ourselves for a quick game of cricket, too cold for a dip at this impressive beachside but looks a must in the summer when we next visit. A quick dash into nearby St David’s to pick up a new pair of walking boots for a keen to come with us daughter, we are stunned by the unexpected sight of a cathedral built at the bottom of the valley, a fascinating change from the usual crowning glory of a hilltop. But this is truly an incredible cathedral, hidden away unexpectedly in a bustling seaside town, another place to put on our must do’s summer return trip. Then on with the journey, with the Preseli Hills as the goal and the spectacular winding coastal road northbound as navigator until we turned right, heading inland for Crymmych. Easy!

Our target car park at Crymmych turns out to be a lay-by. One of the most iconic places of folklore in the world and the car park is a three car lay-by! And judging by the empty spaces it looks like we have the Preseli hills all to ourselves. A short walk to an entrance (farm)gate where a thousand sheep came to greet us, expecting food, sorry to disappoint you gels but we are on a mission here, mind out, back up, give us room!  before we were able to step out on our long, lonesome, as it turned out to be, walk. Along the unmarked track, heading south,  looking up to our right we see the burial cairns on top of Foeldrygarn, sad that we haven’t time to go that route, it looks majestic and the views from up there would be spectacular.

Ahead, close by now, a pile of rocks, not impressive even at this shortish distance, a sheep shelter built into the base. Our two young girls leap in and amuse themselves for a few minutes, almost as much fun as a cardboard box. We trudge on together and then, rounding the mound, ahead of us lay the first and most elite of the Preseli bluestone tors .. Carn Menyn .. the disputed origin of the Stonehenge bluestones. An incredible sight nevertheless, perched on the edge of a massive glacial plain looking to our left and Eastwards.
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Here there is an atmosphere unlike any other Tor I’ve been to .. It’s hard to describe or decide whether it is an inner tingling or an outer zingling but you can definitely feel something special, holy, distinctive, about this place. The views aren’t spectacular, but that’s not why you come to sit here. Sit alone, let your thoughts wander, feel the stories, hear the music, touch the breeze in this magical, unspoilt place of our ancestors, wherever you are from.

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Looking away now to the south east there is a plain falling away from us for as far as the eye can see. It is easy to reflect on the glacier that may have plucked these fingers of blue stone from their earth-spewed piles before drifting them towards their destiny at the heart of Stonehenge.

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We played awhile amongst the natural sculptures of grey/blue stone (white spotted dolerite we read in our books) split, broken and falling away in finger-like fans of convenient building blocks – just right for stone circles and alter tables. Inspired by the sight of the surrounding tors we then headed off to find Carn Goedog, to the west, another contender for the origins of the Stonehenge bluestones before turning back to collect the forgotten children. We could hear them but not see them lost in the mist and bliss of childhood adventuring, high up on a Welsh hillside.

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Turning back now for the car park, a wave of greeting to a long line of ramblers who had appeared from nowhere on a long patient walk to somewhere, Tor to Tor, bus to bus, long may they ramble in peace and tranquility among the Preseli Hills. Go there, it’s off the beaten tracks, but worthy of the effort, an experience the soul won’t forget.
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John White

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