Begwyns is a large upland area and encompasses a wild and rolling
landscape of common land situated north of Ffynnon-Gynydd and south
of Painscastle. It rises to 415 m at the Begwyns Round Barrow (
contained in the summit Roundabout ) and falls away to a low point
of some 270 m to the NW. The whole area of 1292.98 acres had been
owned for a long period by the Maesllwch Estate before being gifted
to the National Trust by Major G. W. F. De Winton on the 7th July
1992. Since this time the National Trust have been overseeing and
surveying the area on a continuing basis.
The underlying rocks are silurian shales and mudstones to the north,
merging to old red sandstones in the south and the area is complicated
with some latterday glacial drifts due to the ice sheets overspilling
from the main Wye Glacier. There are a few natural mawn pools which
can dry up during the summer months and some small recently created
pools which cater for the animals grazing the common. There is one
large pond, the Monks Pond, which has been enlarged in recent times
to provide a reliable year long water supply for the Perthiduon
farm. The vegetation is mainly rough grassland and bracken, with
a fair scattering of cotton grass, gorse and some resilient hawthorn
trees. There are also some heather patches in the more peaty area
by the two mawn pools to the west of the Roundabout.
It is worth noting that both the farmers and the National Trust
have been and are developing a working relationship regarding the
management and preservation of the area.
The original Roundabout was built by the de Winton
family in 1887 to protect the numerous trees which had been planted
to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond jubilee. These gradually
disappeared over time along with the wall which fell into total
disrepair by the mid 20c.
The trees were replaced in 1977 by the Maesllwch estate and stock
proofed by Rhosgoch Y.F.C. This was to commemorate the silver jubilee
of Queen Elizabeth 11.
The surrounding wall was rebuilt as a funded Millennium project
by the National Trust and the Painscastle Community and help was
provided by volunteers who were learning a trade . The surrounding
wall was built in just over 3 months and is standing the test of
Access is provided by two styles, roughly north and south, and the
impressive circular seat was built in June 2000 under the direction
of Mr Richard Harris of Rhosgoch.
The Triangulation Pillar
The triangulation point close by was adopted in
January 1997 by the Beagley family of Cornhill and has been maintained
by them admirably since that time.
Some temporary but important events occurred
during World War Two when the War Agricultural Executive Committees
implemented farming changes for a second time. The effect of the
"War Ags" was to increase the productive land in the
UK by over 1.5 million acres between 1939 and the early 1940's
and this included large areas of the commons of Ffynnon-Gynydd
and the Begwyns.
Milk, potatoes and cereals were considered to be essential to
the food supply and a large part of the Begwyns was commissioned
for the grazing of cattle and the growing of mainly potatoes.
Some 300 acres were fenced off and ploughed, initially for growing
oats and afterwards for potatoes. These were clamped and stored
on the common to be used as and when required.
Two nissen style huts with concrete bases were built to house the
necessary equipment and a loading ramp constructed at GR 139 435
to service transport of the produce from the Begwyns. The huts were
also used as repair sheds and shelters for lunch breaks and foul
weather conditions. Along with the farmers, land-girls were mainly
employed along with a few POW's in the construction, planting and
running of the scheme.
After the war and around 1949 the graziers held a meeting and
decided that the land should revert to common usage but there
are some remaining legacies worthy of note.
Approaching from the west the first of these
can be found at GR 139 435 and is the loading ramp mentioned above.
The second can be found at GR 143 435. These are
the two concrete bases; all that is left of the nissen style huts.
The third is the small dam and related water
troughs which were constructed for the benefit of the cattle and
can be found in the area of GR 149 436. The water was piped from
the dam to the troughs to provide a reliable and safe supply.
The fourth was a post-war event and is known
locally as 'The Bomb Hole' . During the war ammunition was safely
stored in a variety of depots ( A large one was created at Gwernyfed
) and these became redundant with the advent of peace. After a
few minor and trial explosions it was decided to dispense with
the remaining ammunition in one fell swoop and the Begwyns was
the favoured and chosen site. In due course the ammunition was
sited at a safe distance from the road at GR 178 443 and the demolition
team at a even safer distance in the ditch to the southwest. The
bomb-blast was successful but ruptured the bed-rock below, allowing
a spring-line to create a small lake which has remained since
In the aftermath there was significant structural damage to some
local farm buildings and this resulted in token monetary compensation
The Bamford Hay Rake
This unusual relic was discovered in a little visited
area on the Begwyns. It was identified by Paul Greenow as a Bamford
Hay Rake and was probably abandoned in the early 1950's.
The apparent suspension is probably not due to geological erosion
alone but more likely to be from a combination of weathering and
sheep treading, as they rub off their woolen coats when the weather
warms up. Traces of this can be seen in the photograph opposite.
October 23rd 2017
Physical, Historical and Regional Geography. Edited by E.
G. Bowen, M. A. F.S.A.
National Trust archival material and reports
Mr Paul Greenow
Mr Fred Lloyd
Mr A A Nicholls of Croesfeilliog
Mr Aubrey Price of Llwynpenderi
Other local farmers
Photos - B Bowker