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The latter mode was frequently attended with danger, owing to the soft places left by the fresh water streams, and the hollows formed by the tide, of the depth of which, when filled with water, even the guides could not always be certain. There was a horse-path along the side of the rock, but it is said to have been excessively dangerous and bad.
Within these last few years additional improvements have been made under the superintendence of Mr. Telford, and the present line of road was opened to the public in the year 1827.
ASCENT TO THE SUMMIT OF PENMAEN
"From the sixth mile stone I began an ascent to the summit of Penmaen Mawr. I chose this place in order that I might have a guide not to the summit merely, but to the spot where I could find a shrub, of which I had heard many nonsensical accounts, called by the Welsh Pren Lemwn, or lemon tree. This I had been told grew in a situation almost inaccessible, and bore a fruit resembling a small lemon; and that many persons had planted cuttings, and even roots of it in their gardens, but that these had invariably dwindled and died. I questioned my guide, as we proceeded, respecting the figure and colour of its leaves and flowers, and I immediately conjectured it to be, what I soon afterwards found it, nothing more than Crataegus aria of Linnæus, which does not often occur among the Welsh mountains. on the perpendicular rocks just above the road; and of the three small trees that were pointed out to me, one had been cut on all sides, for the purpose of planting in gardens.
"Hence I scrambled up a steep ascent, covered en
* This description is preserved verbatim as given by the Rev. W. Bingley.
tirely with loose stones, which often gave way the moment I trusted my weight upon them, to the summit; and, as I walked pretty quick, it was not before I had experienced several severe tumbles, that I reached it. I had frequent occasion, from heat and exertion, to turn round and catch. the cool and refreshing breezes from the sea; and in each of these restings, as I gradually rose above the intervening obstacles, I found new objects to admire. From the summit the view was extensive, and, towards the Isle of Anglesey, and from thence round to the Cheshire and Lancashire hills, very beautiful. The whole of the Bay of Beaumaris seemed to lie directly underneath, as well as all the coast from the abrupt termination of Orme's Head to the little island of Priestholme. I could just discern the Isle of Man. The prospect over the Conway into Denbighshire was also extremely pleasing; but the mountains towards the south not being in themselves sufficiently varied, were destitute of character, and almost entirely of interest.
"On the summit, and extending in an oval form from north to south, are some evident remains of antiquity. Many ruins of ancient massy walls, formed apparently without cement, are yet visible; and on the east the fragments of several small circular buildings that seem to have been originally formed for soldiers' huts. On the highest part there are the remains of what appeared to me to have been watch-towers; and near one of these I observed a small square well, in which, although then in the midst of a dry season, I found a considerable quantity of water."
"This ruin is called Braich y Ddinas, The Arm of the City, and is supposed to have been an ancient British fortifiA correspondent of Bishop Gibson says of it:"This castle seems to have been impregnable, there being no way to offer any assault to it, from the hill being so high, steep, and rocky, and the walls of such vast strength.
The way or entrance into it ascends with many twinings, so that a hundred men might here defend themselves against a whole legion, and yet it should seem there were lodgings within these walls for twenty thousand men. By the tradition of our ancestors, this was the strongest and safest refuge, or place of defence, that the ancient Britons had in all Snowdon, to secure them from the incursions of their enemies." Governor Pownall, contrary to the commonly received opinion, conjectures it to have been one of the Druids' consecrated high places of worship, and that it was never intended for a place of defence.*
Penmaen Mawr is not so interesting a mountain, except to the antiquary, as Snowdon, Glyder, and many others in the interior of the country; the prospects from the summit being neither so grand nor so varied as from these.
The easiest points to ascend from are either along a wall that extends from the road far up the side of the mountain on the extremity nearest to Conway, or at the other extremity a little beyond the sixth mile-stone. If the traveller be a pedestrian he can ascend one way and descend by the other this will save him at least a mile or two of journey. The loose stones that lie scattered apparently on every part of the mountain render an expedition to its summit very unpleasant; but the distance is so short, that a person who walks pretty quick may overcome it in little more than an hour."
About nine miles from Conway stands the pleasing little village of Aber, or, as it is called by way of distinction, Aber gwyn gregin, The Conflux of the White Shells. This is a very convenient station for such persons as wish to
Gibson's Camden, 805. Archæologia of the Antiq. Soc. vol. iii. 303.
examine Penmaen Mawr and the adjacent country, either as naturalists or artists.
On a small artificial mount on the west side of the river, just above the bridge, called the Mwd, there formerly stood a castle belonging to Llewelyn ap Griffith, Prince of Wales; and it was here that he received his summons from our Edward to deliver up the principality to the Crown of England. The mount is nearly circular at the top, and not more than twenty yards in diameter.
From this place persons sometimes cross immediately into Anglesey, in a direction towards Beaumaris. The distance is about four miles, and at low water they may walk to the bank of the channel, within a mile of Beaumaris, where the ferry-boat plies. In fogs, the passage over these sands has been found very dangerous, and many lives have been lost in attempting to cross them at such times. As some precaution, however, the bell of the church is now generally rung during foggy weather, which prevents persons from wandering very widely from the line they ought to keep.
ABER- -RHAIADR MAWR.
A deep glen runs from the village amongst the mountains, at the extremity of which, two miles and a half distant, is a waterfall, called Rhaiadr Mawr, The Great Cataract. At a distance this seems to have no one character of picturesque beauty, but to be merely a narrow stream, falling down the flat and uninteresting face of a lofty rock, and its appearance continues much the same, until arriving very nearly to the foot of the cataract, the lower part of which is upwards of sixty feet in height. Its character is extremely simple: at some distance two or three divisions of the upper rock are seen, but immediately at the foot little more than the lower fall is visible. In the bed of the river, as in those of most mountain torrents, are scattered
numerous fragments of rock. On each side of the cataract, the mountain has the same flat appearance; this, with the nearly regular outline of the whole scene, at the top forming a segment of a large circle, and some other characteristics, gives to it that kind of simple grandeur, though on a much smaller scale, which is conspicuous in Pistyll Rhaiadr, the celebrated waterfall of Montgomeryshire.
Smooth to the shelving brink a copious flood
In one impetuous torrent, down the steep,
It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round.
At first an azure sheet it rushes broad;