Views from Penycloddiau hillfort

Today I made a first attempt to scale Pennycloddiau – a hill in the Clwydian Range with one of Wales’s largest multivallate hillforts (25 ha) encircling its top. I went with the twinagers from the car park to the hill’s south.

The heritage board near the car park

The walk was far easier than I thought it would be, and the twinagers walked all the way up and part of the way down unassisted. Going was far easier than their recent successful ascents of Foel Fenlli and Moel Famau.

Not only were the views amazing, but the heather was stunning and ramparts are far more impressive than I had envisaged. The scale of the hillfort was also astounding and the eastern entrance impressed me too.

University of Liverpool excavations on the eastern side of Penycloddiau

Despite arranging recent open days, I managed to pick a Sunday to visit; understandably the Liverpool team were respecting the Lord’s day as one of rest so we missed out on seeing the students hard at work. Or to put it another way, they missed out on being pestering by twin girls who would have undoubtedly have attempted to wreak havoc on the spoil heaps and trenches. Fortunately, we got to look in on their dig and I even stopped the girls carrying off some of their survey canes.

The Liverpool excavations with prehistoric rampart exposed. Views are also rather good.

Sadly, despite the warmth of the day, the strong wind was a major cause of consternation for the twinagers once we got around to the north-east section. We thus decided to avoid the top and exposed sides and instead foreshortened our anticlockwise perambulation at the University of Liverpool excavations on the eastern side. We will visit the summit and its cairn another time. Likewise, I want to revisit to walk around the western and northern ramparts as well as the interior.

The twinagers having a break at the eastern entrance, pointing at Moel Famau to the south

Read about the hillfort here on the AONB website, and Liverpool’s excavations superb website has links to their image galleries and interim reports.

I was left with two principal reflections on Penycloddiau:

  1. The hillfort is so big it is just mad; it is as much an monumental embellishment of an entire landscape zone as a fort (this is surely a point Rachel Pope has already made);
  2. Just how many litres of sheep poo did I walk through today?
Fabulous heather on the hillfort, looking north along the eastern side of Penycloddiau
The twinagers inspect a survey cane
Ascending the hillfort, fuelled by Walker’s Crisps
Looking west from Penycloddiau over the Vale of Clwyd