04.02.17 Sycharth (SJ 205 258, bwlch only)
|Sycharth (SJ 205 258)|
Sycharth is an evocative place to visit; it is almost forgotten and tucked away in tranquil countryside. Considering its historical importance it was for many years a place to savour without fanfare, however in recent years a small unobtrusive gravelled parking area for five or six cars has been constructed and information boards are now in place. These briefly give detail to the history of Sycharth, as it was one of two principal courts used by Owain Glyndŵr. It some county’s this place would be swarming with tourists who having paid a £10.00 entrance fee are then kept at bay by fenced off areas of land. It’s good that us Welsh seem to do it in another fashion and keep things rather low key, by doing so the essence of what Sycharth once was can be savoured in its peaceful surrounds without prospective hordes of paying customers. Hopefully this silent appreciation of history can be forever in place.
Today’s visit to Sycharth was planned as part celebration of Debbie’s birthday, with the prospect of drinks and food in Oswestry later in the evening. Comrades in arms consisted of Huw, Debbie and Lou, Huw had visited Sycharth on a number of occasions, whilst the two girls were new to its greened pasture and immediate surrounds.
We arrived relatively late in the afternoon after I’d spent 40 minutes having both my knees subjected to an MRI scan at Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital, and with the weather set fine we wondered if an ascent of the 334.8m high Mynydd y Bryn (SJ 217 268) could be had before night fall descended. This proved not to be, but this didn’t matter as it was good to be out again amongst hill country. It never ceases to amaze me how therapeutic landscape and especially hill county is, as it seems to make ones inner self content and radiant with life’s flow.
Having last visited Sycharth in August 2014 when I Trimbled the summit, I now wanted to survey its connecting bwlch, which according to the map was placed near to where one of the two old fish pools is situated. We arrived and parked and sauntered up the few metres to a ladder stile which gives access to where the old Motte and Bailey stands. A slight chilled early February afternoon had brought blue skies and depth of winter colour to the scene. As we clambered into the field one dog walker disappeared from view, otherwise all was quiet and remained so except for an occasional car off in the distance using one of the narrow lanes hereabouts.
As Lou, Huw and Debbie strolled around the lower perimeter I assessed the lay of land and took a data set from where I judged the critical bwlch of Sycharth to be. As the Trimble gathered its customary five minutes of data Huw joined the two girls and stood on where an alternative bwlch position lay, peering back toward me he shouted that he thought he was lower which if proved correct meant that the point where the Trimble was placed was where the true bwlch lay.
|Huw (in blue) standing at the second option for the bwlch of Sycharth|
|Gathering data at the critical bwlch of Sycharth|
A few minutes later and the Trimblle was set up at where Huw had stood a few minutes earlier, as it gathered data I joined Lou, Debs and Huw on the upper perimeter and only headed back down when five minutes of data collection was complete, packing the Trimble away I re-joined the other three for our visit to the flat topped upper section, this is where the court of Glyndŵr had been placed until in May 1403 Harry of Monmouth, later to become King Henry V, burnt Sycharth to the ground. By doing so the fledgling land of an infant nation was put on hold.
|Gathering data at the second and what proved to be the lower option for the bwlch position of Sycharth|
|Looking down on the second option for the bwlch position|
|The view from the upper perimeter of Sycharth toward the hill that maps name as Gyrn Moelfre|
As we stood on top a buzzard flew overhead high in the sky, so high that as I peered back toward it, it had gone from view, a quiet creature seamlessly skimming across the upper currents, now disappeared and gone.
To celebrate the occasion of Debbie’s birthday Huw popped open a bottle of bubbly and one or two glasses proceeded to be consumed which started the day’s entertainment in grand fashion. The entertainment of drinking carried on to the early hours when one in the party danced until she almost dropped and could not remember a thing about doing so the following day!
|Celebrating Debbie's birthday|
Leaving Sycharth we slowly walked up the adjacent forestry track that leads toward the top of Mynydd y Bryn; the wooded hill to the immediate north-east. The going proved muddy as forestry vehicles had recently churned the track whilst plucking their prized wood from the hill slopes. By now we realised that the summit would have to wait another day as the sun began to sink from view, and therefore once out of the confines of the trees we wandered down grassed slopes to a track leading to two or three almost hidden cottages squeezed against the woodland.
|Lou on the upper section of the forest track|
|Huw descending the grassy slopes below the forest track|
Following the track past the first cottage we joined a delightful path as it re-joined another forest track which brought more mud as it led us past the lower of what used to be two fish pools in the time of Glyndwr.
|The first signs heralding the onset of Spring|
It had been a good couple of hours that had disappeared all too quickly. We left Sycharth as light faded and headed toward the drinking and eating haven of Oswestry to carry on into the evening’s festivities.
Bwlch Height: 133.9m (converted to OSGM15)
Bwlch Grid Reference: SJ 20566 25768
Drop: 12.9m (converted to OSGM15) (from earlier summit survey)