Monday, April 8, 2013

The road to nowhere

Despite a good forecast for the weekend, I'd not pursued the possibility of going climbing as with the snow lying on the ground hereabouts for two weeks, I'd so much to catch up on outside. However, by the afternoon,with the sun beating down and a clear blue sky above, I  just had to get out, even if  it was only  a local jaunt for a few hours. I decided to link together four little cairned peaks, three of which I'd only discovered in the last few weeks despite them being on my doorstep. It had gone two by the time I set off and pretty soon after leaving the car, I was down to my T shirt, despite trudging through snow which was still lying at some depth in the forest.

Without giving a blow by blow account of the walk, suffice it to say it all came together perfectly as a fine six mile circular upland walk.Once again,in the words of Wainwright, ' I felt like the last man in a dying world' with not  a soul to be seen all day. There were however some perfect moments; not least seeing a Red Admiral framed between an ultramarine sky and the dazzling snow banks. It's flight path eventually lost in the glare. Within a minute a mountain hare skipped across the snow, strangely unseen by the hound. Making my way over to the final little peak- Mynydd Poeth- I came across something which has really caught my imagination and which has caused me no amount of theorizing. Cutting through a boggy plateau we came across a raised road of some considerable expanse. It led in one direction over the summit of Mynydd Poeth to reach a tiny back lane,in the other, it just ended abruptly at a field, beyond which was the very edge of Clocaenog Forest.

It didn't make sense? A considerable feat of engineering; the construction of a raised road of stone with a perfectly  smooth now grassed over surface. From nowhere to nowhere. Certainly, it could never have been built to service the local farming community; there is no history of quarrying or mining hereabouts. In fact this remote spot is as far removed from industry as it is possible to be.

That night I consulted the oracle...Google Earth..which if anything made the mystery even more puzzling. GE showed the mysterious road quite clearly, however,where it abruptly ended was at a vivid green field which stood out clearly from the tawny scrubby surrounding moorland. Theories abound. Was this field the site of a remote abbey or monastery destroyed by Cromwell's goons? Was the road perhaps built 100 years ago by IRA work gangs imprisoned at the nearby Fron Goch concentration camp as a form of chain gang punishment? Fron Goch housed Irish republican prisoners including Michael Collins after their arrest in the Easter rising.

I can't find any information on Google re historic buildings in the area. The road remains a mystery? Favourite theory though is that the road led to a remote abbey or monastry. I'm guessing that much of the lands attached have disappeared under forest but remains of settlements still survive in the area. Perhaps the road's foundations are the remains of this building?

To add a romantic flourish to what had been a beautiful day which by now was leeching into twilight, as I headed down towards the forest, two geese broke the silence, approaching from the west making that wonderful  cronking sound. As they reached us they dropped down and circled us four times before cronking off into the sunset. Menlove Edwards,the great climber once wrote of 'the inate symbolisms of life'. I've never been quite sure what he meant. Perhaps he would have found lost roads and greeting geese as containing some innate symbolism?

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