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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, February 18, 2007
    On Fronlief Hir
    In the land of prehistoric stones and ancient roads I travelled the most wonderful route last week: Fronlief Hir, which connects the ancient churches of Tanwg (nestled in the dunes near the mouth of Afon Artro) and Tecwyn (high in the rugged hills overlooking the warrens and saltings of expansive Morfa Harlech).

    It would take a day to walk it; and it ought to be walked, to properly comprehend its breathtaking rise from golden coast to upland wilderness (and finally to high, humble, settlements among ancient trees); to properly explore the many hut circles, cairn circles, ancient settlements and standing stones this road connects in the high fields between Bryn-hyfryd and Moel Goedog; to fully appreciate the beauty of tiny Eisingrug with its fancy hidden-away hotel, and the green stillness of wooded Pont-Dolorgan.

    But I drove it. Very slowly: suffering that anxiety of all who travel narrow high-walled lanes hoping never to meet a vehicle coming the other way; held up by cattle grids and farm gates; but mostly just awed by the views unfolding beneath me.

    The high point of the road brings the greatest reward: nine hundred feet above Harlech the land below falls away and a glorious panorama opens up. Of wide Cardigan Bay. Of the wandering Glaslyn and Dwyryd rivers and the shining sands on which they meet. Of sprawling Porthmadog and silly, lovely Portmeirion glittering by the wooded waters edge opposite. Beneath us run the Talsarnau turnpike road, the single-track Pwllheli railway and the A496 (speedy route to the holiday sands). And framing the entire scene, the blue-grey mountains of Eyri and the craggy hills of Lleyn tumbling out to sea. Up here all is silence and extreme satisfaction, for the lone traveller on Fronlief Hir has discovered one of the great and gentle roadways of the Western world.