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Y Filltir Sgwâr/The Square Mile: Ar Ben y Byd, On Top of the World

09 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Mynydd Farteg Fawr Photo: Tom Maloney

In a year long series Tom Maloney, from Abersychan, shows how you can love a place so well it becomes a part of you.

Mynydd Farteg Fawr

Probably most people in the area would know Mynydd Farteg Fawr as Varteg Mountain and in my opinion it goes a little ‘under the radar’.

It is not nearly as well known as its more famous neighbours Ysgyryd Fawr, Blorenge and Mynydd Pen-y-fâl, known locally as The Sugar Loaf.

I got to know the mountain quite well during the Covid times, as it was easily accessible without the need for driving.

I enjoy the rawness of its landscape and its changing moods, but as a Welsh learner the name has always puzzled me.

‘Teg’ is quite straight forward, meaning ‘fair’ in English, but the first part of the name is a little bit of an enigma!

The OS Map gives the name as Mynydd Farteg Fawr whilst the usual spelling on road signs has been anglicised to Varteg.

One suggestion that I have heard is that the first part of the name may be linked with ‘Fan or Ban’, which has the meaning peak or summit when translated from the Welsh.

I wonder if the origin of Varteg’s name lies here. ‘Fair Summit’ would seem to be a very fair description to me.

Where sheep graze now Photo: Tom Maloney

Panoramic

Nearby colliery spoil and industrial ruins are a reminder of how this land was used in the past, but this is a place where sheep graze freely now, with amazing panoramic views in all directions, though I feel I should point out there are dangers as well.

New signage has been put up warning ‘Danger Crack on Mountain’ advising that dogs be kept on a lead and to keep to the footpaths.

I think this is good advice and with this in mind, there is good walking to be enjoyed.

View from Mynydd Farteg looking towards Blaenavon Photo: Tom Maloney

Sometimes, you get the feeling that you are treading in the footsteps of the ‘ancients’ when you walk along the rugged, stony paths that wind their way up the grassy slopes.

I feel myself drawn to the mirror pools that look like they could have been part of the landscape for a very long time and I imagine folk from the Bronze Age doing the same, but this maybe wishful thinking on my part!

The Carlo Memorial Photo: Tom Maloney

In Memory

IN
MEMORY OF
CARLO
A CELEBRATED SETTER
THE PROPERTY
OF
H M KENNARD ESQ
CRUMLIN HALL
ACCIDENTLY SHOT

AUGUST 12th
1864

No visit to the Mynydd is complete without a little stop at the Carlo Memorial or ‘The Dog Stone’ as it is better known around these parts.

Curiously, it is not a stone at all, but a cast iron memorial gravestone erected by H M Kennard who was a Blaenavon Iron Master at the time.

There are shades of the story of Beddgelert here and I always find myself with such conflicting thoughts.

The Carlo Memorial in the landsacpe Photo: Tom Maloney

Profound

As a dog lover myself I understand and feel the pain of losing a dog, but the memorial says something else that is deeply thought provoking about the profound inequalities of a time where the lives of ordinary working people were not given the same degree of value.

You can find out more about The Carlo Memorial on the Coflien, online catalogue of archaeology, buildings, industrial and maritime heritage in Wales website here.

Very close to the Dog Stone lies another enigma for me, a cairn of stones that would appear to have all the hallmarks of a Bronze Age Cairn, but to date I have not been able to substantiate this.

Mynydd Farteg Fawr Cairn Photo: Tom Maloney

The dramatic light of my early evening visit this week reminded me so much of a painting of ‘Stonehenge’ by John Constable.

Perhaps an artist of yesteryear, but still one of the greats for me with such an eye for the landscape and the power of Nature!

Ar ben y byd/ On top of the world Photo: Tom Maloney

Exhilarating

There is something exhilarating about reaching the top of a mountain.

It may not be the biggest or steepest climb as hills go, but getting to the summit of Mynydd Farteg Fawr is still a bit of ‘a push’ and always feels like an achievement.

The views at the trigpoint are gIorious and when I am here I feel like I am on top of the world, ‘Ar ben y Byd!’

Read the earlier installments of Y Filltir Sgwâr/The Square Mile by Tom Maloney


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David RJ Lloyd
David RJ Lloyd
3 minutes ago

great thing the carlo memorial! i thought prince/king charles had pegged it

Last edited 3 minutes ago by David RJ Lloyd

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