Announcement!: Hi everybody! I have recently discovered a cool new hiking social network: Planethike.com
Real climbers and hikers respect the courage it takes to start a community based on our love for beautiful natural places. At Planethike.com you can start your own profile, share your trail pictures in chapters, and talk with people internationally, plus more. It is a new community so your participation will be greatly appreciated! I have started a profile and have seen trails posted by my friend Jeremy in South Africa, trails that I would not have seen otherwise. Please check out Planethike.com and start a profile, it doesn’t take long. Facebook is not the last word in social networking. We should support new efforts in the hiking world, not fall back on Facebook for every distracting thing. Real hikers and climbers try new trails, new valleys, and new things! Just click on this site’s sidebar, or the tag directly below, to go straight to Planethike.com
Note: It is a beautiful thought that some places in the world are simply known as ‘regions’. The Burren is every bit a national park as any of the existing national parks in Ireland, and yet it is simply a region. No modern organization monitors this area overall. It is sustained by the endearing love of the Irish generations that have lived here since Celtic times. These are the people that remained through the Medieval-to-Colonial British incursions, and The Famine, and reveal an incredibly deep connection. A single sojourning through this striking landscape is all a hiker needs to understand this connection. The roads and hills are open to hiking and climbing, as well as designated pathways. Make your way to the entry points as best you can by researching, exploring, and engaging the people of the area. To begin, the N18 highway runs south of Galway and connects to N67, which flows into the dimension that is The Burren. The gateway to this dimension is Dunguire Castle, perhaps the most beautiful in all of Ireland. Embraced almost entirely by a bay that runs out of the harbor town of Kinvarra, Dunguire looks to be floating on a small island, slightly separated from reality.Dunguire’s grounds have pathways around the castle, and the courtyard is also accessible. Feel free to park in Kinvarra and walk a scenic mile to Dunguire’s 15th century gates. Kinvarra is the pivot-point for the turn westward, around the edge of the bay, and into the enchanted zones. In this place the small caps of the mountains are covered in white stones, with rock-stricken hillsides that are the color of the moon. These undulating hills hide incredible monuments intertwined with the stone-walls and hedges. The Poulnabrone Dolmen has sat 17 miles southwest of Kinvarra for over 6000 years, and is the most iconic Dolmen in the world. This iconography is due to the otherworldly context of the megalith, surrounded by free-sitting boulders in the peripheral distance, and supported by smoothly grooved rows of rock beneath it. It looks to be the very crossroads of heaven and hell. At a glance, it becomes totally understandable as to why they call these Dolmens “Portal Tombs”, meant to send the spirits of Celts to the stars. The 6 ton capstone, which is placed six feet above the ground, looks like a stone-satellite for receiving messages from the solar system. The Poulnabrone Dolmen has a similar look to the Gortnavern Dolmen in Donegal (Pictured below/left), far to the north, with a massive but slim capstone and similar supporting stones. Other Dolmen’s in various Celtic regions abroad sponsor much larger megalithic features, as well as different styles. This Dolmen can be found just off the R480 road, which is a classic country-drive with tunnels of tight green hedges. Be prepared. The best regulated hiking trail of the area is, without any doubt, the Cliffs of Moher. A Medieval tower sits at the northerly edge of the excellent trails that run along the dramatic Atlantic cliff, which drops over 700 feet below. These trails run for about 6 miles along the ledge, so it is just over a half day of hiking if you so choose. The coastal view and the towns to the south are epic in this area, so take your time on a fairly level trek. All throughout the country side are thatched cottages and ancient abbeys. Perhaps just as haunting as these ancient places are some of the abandoned cottages of families that could not ride-out The Famine, along the country roads. This is a place where hikers and photographers should spend more than a few days. The Burren has that “beyond time” capability to make a traveler forget about the outside world. Legendary author J.R.R Tolkien lived in, and utilized, this landscape at times, along with places in Wales and England, for the inspiration of the descriptions of the magical Shire of his stories. Amazingly, after all this wonder, it is yet, and still, simply a region. This is perhaps the best reasoning as to why seeking and finding is sometimes necessary for true adventurers, where many miles outside of the commonly ‘commercialized experience’ of domesticated parks, real indigenous surprises still exist in the regions of lessor known places.
Note: Among the initial benefits of hiking… the quiet… the calm… the fluttering of the leaves above, the splashing of streams below, are more miraculous treasures waiting to be discovered. Bear’s Den is one of the most astonishing example’s of this possibility in New England, and even the world. Located just off a quite road of a small unassuming nature preserve in New Salem Massachusetts, Bear’s Den sits ready to reveal some of the most incredible things a forest can offer on either side of the Atlantic. To begin, tucked into a small gully just beneath the initial trail is an exquisite example of an ancient stone-dwelling. This structure has distinct dry-laid outer walls up to 7 feet high, with unique stones that are each deliberately placed and crafted in an amazing way. There is an entrance way leading to a single passage that opens on the interior to a leveled-off, stone-supported, bed space. When entering the chamber you feel like you’re in someone else’s home, like a Neolithic apartment for one. There is 4 ton ‘squared’ granite piece sitting high-up on the exterior side wall, across from the bed space that looks very much like a stylistic statement made by the builder. Through sheer size, this megalithic stone says: “Look where I can put this gigantic stone!” This certainly doesn’t look like Colonial work of timely practicality, which usually involves cobble and brick, and avoids megalithic work if possible. Native Americans were not interested in moving megalithic stones either, or building stone dwellings in north-east America. In terms of historical context it seems that this structure somehow would’ve been here before the natives arrived, and is not the first instance of ‘megalithic culture’ at the birth of antiquity. This coincides with the claims of native Peruvians, for example. who blatantly claimed that the megalithic structures built high in the mountains were there well before their ancestors arrived. The combination of difficulty along with the additional craftsmanship of this stone gets our undivided attention, and it is intended to. To set in place, and perfectly level, a 4 ton granite block that sits 6 feet above the supporting smaller stones, is outstandingly bold to say the least, and incredibly difficult, as if the builder wanted more of a challenge. People in New England that call structures like this a “colonial root cellar” are mentality and logically stunted. It’s the equivalent of calling Stonehenge “just a big pile of rocks”, when we know it’s obviously so much more. And the intrigue at Bear’s Den continues from here. From the stone-dwelling follow the trail to the top of the knoll to the north. Free-sitting boulders at the top of the knoll are cut, creating an entrance way and designated view of the waterfall on the other side. Two specifically elevated and leveled stone porches sit facing the waterfall at an intended height from about 25 yards away. What you are about to see is exquisite. The first glance of this picturesque waterfall from this elevated stone-porch reveals multiple features. The stream is split beautifully by a massive stone facade. The water that flows to the right of the main facade funnels through a specifically cut ‘spout’ down into an incredibly crafted leveled pool. This is where the scene begins to become surreal, mathematical, and incredible. Before continuing, take a look at the close-up image of the right side of the ‘funneled waterfall’ (2nd image below) and see if you notice anything unique about it. It’s impossible to miss…
The Emblem Stone: Along the inner line of the perfectly leveled pool receiving the water from the funnel, is a beautiful granite-cut emblem of an equilateral triangle, each side being about two feet long, but looking smaller from a distance. Equilateral triangles DO NOT OCCUR IN NATURE, so we immediately must begin to wonder, who could have done this, and why? If you look closer, there is also a line inside the triangle clearly connecting the midpoints of two sides. A line that connects the midpoints of two sides creates an angle of 60 degrees. It appears that this emblem is depicting a specific geometric relationship. (Shown on the right) All of a sudden, this is an anthropological site.
Simple Geometry: (Please look to the diagrams 1-5 above to see the proofing of these ratio’s and parallels): At this time a few simple geometric explanations are required which only take a moment. Due to the midpoints being connected within the triangle, the vertices of the smaller triangle become equal to the vertices of the larger outer triangle, at exactly 60 degrees. Further still, since the vertices of both triangles become equal, the sides of both the larger and smaller triangle therefor become parallel. When these relationships are proven, the smaller triangle is revealed to be exactly 1/4 ratio of the entire figure. This is absolutely astonishing. Logically we must accept a few things at this time. First, it should be understood that whoever etched this emblem did so in granite for a reason. We have to conclude that the designer absolutely intended for us to notice it. In fact, the only guarantee that it would be noticed, is to etch it in granite. Second, the specific geometry of the emblem is a message, a coded stone, informing us that the designer was obviously well aware of Sacred Geometry. Third, if someone from antiquity is leaving us a coded emblem with specific geometric relationships it demands our utmost attention, and we should be adamant to observe any other relationships taking place, relevant to this emblem.
The Funneled Waterfall Parallel: It is logical to follow the lines of the parallels that have been established by this emblem to see if there is any further connections on the waterfall overall. If we continue the line of the left side of this coded emblem, we see that it connects DIRECTLY to another crafted feature. Continuing along this exact line is a crafted stone funnel where the water is harnessed specifically to a single focal point. You can see the distinct whiteness of the water blasting out of the funnel. At this point something astonishing is beginning to emerge. The possibility that the ’emblem stone’ is a coded statement for relationships relevant to the entire waterfall is becoming possible. If this parallel line extends to a specific point on the larger structure, is it possible that this line will have a matching larger parallel on the other side of the waterfall, just like the lines of the emblem? Is it possible that another larger triangle can be established relative to this right-side portion of the scene? Let’s continue to try and find features that fit the ratios and angles. If we continue to implement the information the emblem conveys, from this top funnel point we can implement a 60 degree angle, and draw a line downward at this specific angle. We will then continue to draw that line down to a point where we can implement another 60 degree line at the base. If we do this, another perfect triangle emerges, depicting an outline of the ‘funneled-side-waterfall’ on the right-lower side, exactly as depicted in the right-lower side of the emblem stone. From here, if we want to see if there is a ratio-appropriate parallel to the ‘funnel-waterfall-triangle’ on the 3/4 side of the scene, we need to step back to where we can see the entire picture again.
The Top Central Boulder: Returning to the leveled stone porch, we must look for a central point where a larger parallel line can converge, in accordance with the pattern on the emblem. Remember that the emblem depicts a specific 1/4th ratio for the smaller triangle within, therefor, a higher point in the 3/4ths section on the right should specifically exist. Let’s continue to look for this intentional designation. If we examine the upper-left portion of the overall waterfall, we DO see something specific. Looking down from the center of the elevated porch, directly below is a set of distinct stones that serves as a central bridge that connects the land across the stream with the granite facade. If we follow this line we can see that it directs our eyes straight ahead to the exact high-point on the massive frontal/main granite piece, where there is a distinct crease cut into the rock (double click o image to the right to look closer). Directly above and behind that crease is a free-standing boulder, placed centrally (circled at the top. in yellow). It is certainly important to check these points of significance to ensure that they are not arbitrary. It appears that the aligned stoned bridge is directing us towards this specific boulder. If you cross this bridge, which is completely linear, and climb up to the cut crease, then make your way to the centrally placed boulder behind the facade, and turn around, there is something spectacular we are intended to see.
The Aligned Rear Alter: Here we see what looks to be a type of “water-alter” embedded behind the uppermost granite facade where the crease is. The cut line of this uppermost crease is even more distinct from the back side, revealing an exact cut that extends as an incision deep into the granite at a 45 degree angle. Looking back now from the center of the boulder, through the crease, back to the elevated porch, is a perfectly straight line, as well as a perfectly leveled line (Image marked below, left). The alignment, symmetry, AND elevation, are all absolutely exact. This rear section is obviously another type of ‘alter’ intended to be found by use of the information given to us by the emblem. Along the line of the ‘high point crease’ is a circularly cut whirlpool, with a back drop of smaller stones with little incisions that follow the 45 degree lining of the top most crease. These are blatantly angled cuts in solid granite. This is also the exact spot where the water divides into two sections, cascading down to the left and to the right onto the frontal facade (Image to the right). As the high point of division for the stream, it is further justification as an identified high point to the main frontal facade. All of this information serves to reveal the free standing boulder behind the uppermost crease as a central high point, intended for us to discover by the efforts of the designer of this waterfall. With this important piece of information, we can go back to the elevated porch on the frontal side of the waterfall, and utilize the ‘top boulder’ as our fixed point for the parallel line we are hoping to find, which will logically coincide as a parallel with the ‘funnel-waterfall-triangle’ line on the more minor lower left side of the overall facade, just at the top corner and the mid-line corner coincide on the emblem.
The overall waterfall and the emblem are the same: If we extend the ‘funnel-waterfall-triangle’ lines, at the angle of 60 degrees indicated to us by the information within the ’emblem stone’, this line will run straight to the peak of the ‘top boulder’. It all comes together from here. The outer line connecting the ‘funnel-waterfall-triangle’ to the specific point of the ‘top central boulder’ is enough information to allow us to complete the picture. If we again use the 60 degree angle implied by the emblem stone, we can now draw the parallel line we were searching for, that coincides with the ’emblem-to-funnel’ line. We draw the line as a parallel from the ‘top boulder’ down, and the picture begins to emerge in full. The parallel lines are in specific ratio as well, so it becomes impossible to miss. If we match the 60 degree corner of the established ‘outer right-side line’ on the right-side extremity of the waterfall, we can define a 60 degree corner on the left-side extremity and run a base line from one end of the fall to the other. Here we see that THE RATIOS OF THE ORIGINAL CODED EMBLEM EMERGE AGAIN IN THE OVERALL WATERFALL (displayed below). We now see, by definition, that the 1/4 ratio portion of the overall triangle is the ‘funneled waterfall triangle’ with the ‘leveled pool’ on the minor right corner. It’s a perfect fit. What we have discovered is that the ’emblem stone’ is nothing less than an embedded, ratio-specific ‘keystone’ that opens up the possibility of comprehending the entire picture.
Mystical Beauty: There are so many question that come from discoveries like this. Who would have the ability and knowledge in antiquity to create an engineered, ratio-specific, waterfall from cut granite? This just doesn’t coincide with the evolutionary depiction of history, where humans are depicted as primordially primitive. Perhaps the builder was not entirely human? It’s not just the magnitude of understanding, its the ability to carry it out that’s really moving. The emblem shows us the mind of the engineer of this waterfall; That beautiful ideas can have a core principle, and be carried out into complexity by the consistency of defined ratios and principles. To do this in antiquity is earth shattering. It seems likely that the engineer of this masterpiece lived also designed the elegantly simple and beautiful stone-dwelling just over the hill. It makes sense. The stream flows from the waterfall, around the hill, straight to the dwelling, and beyond.
It is a captivating scene. For a moment, picture a pristine Era at the beginning of Time, when the water was clean and drinkable. This area was carved-out as a place of pure joy and regeneration, perhaps in the very first Era. It is at least one of the oldest functioning engineered sanctuaries in the world. It’s a hauntingly beautiful scene, where trails run along the river above the waterfall and below, through the forest and back to the stone-dwellingl for a 2.5 mile loop.
The Equilateral Triangle: The equilateral triangle is a feature that actually shows up in many New England forests in several different ways. In my personal explorations for content for Stonestrider.com, I’ve seen large granite cuts, subtle small granite pieces on mount Watatic, Massachusetts, with holes somehow drilled smoothly into the exact center. and massive granite slabs in deep woods with 60 degree quartz stripes across the face (bottom images). On my way out of Bear’s Den on my most recent visit this September, just down stream from the waterfall, I discovered another cut equilateral triangle, this time laying right beside the boulder it was cut from (green stones on the lower left). This is Neolithic meme in New England of incredibly significance. The culture that appreciated this specific geometric shape engineered it into their lives, in their work, and in their hearts. The ancient Israelite immortalized the equilateral triangle in their designs of the Ark of The Covenant and later in the Temple as instructed by Ashem (Yahweh,God). A functional living monument dedicated to this shape conveys a message across the Ages, which is that the builders were connected intimately with this divine principle. If you explore the forest and mountains of New England, as well as the Celtic high country, it is only a matter time before you discover this for yourself. Hope to see you out there.
Note: Betws Y Coed is a gorgeous Celtic hamlet nestled at the convergence of the rivers Conwy and Avon, 7 miles south-east of the great Mount Snowdon. The stone-cut architecture combined with the sounds of vibrant rolling waterways running parallel to the Central Green creates a vibrant energy that is an absolute relief to arrive at, if a hiking getaway is your goal. The entire region is a hiking paradise, where you can choose carefully which direction you would like to go during your stay. Within Betws Y Coed are elevated forest trails, riverside paths, waterfall drops, and countryside hikes, all from the center of town. Caves from the Neolithic period, carved out of the mountainside, appear along the trails, and have an amazing presence as you pass by. Ancient stone linings circa 4000 B.C.E appear by the river Avon, with regal Oak Tree’s spreading roots straight into the stream, and classic Celtic Fairy Foxgloves proudly peering through the ancient stones. The river Avon is lined with amazing free-standing boulders and cut-stones very similar to New England’s forests in Vermont and New Hampshire, across the Atlantic. Climbing along the run of the river is an adventure well worth exploring. When the sun comes out in Wales, it is hard to imagine wanting to be anywhere else in the world. Classic Celtic moss covers so much of the stone work, both on the river, and on land, indicating that it is ancient forestry. This creates a green glowing ‘halo’ over everything, like something out of the movie Excalibur. The forests reflect shafts of light through the trees, with an infinity of watery reflections and small spectrum flashes beaming in any photos you might take. Ten miles to the north is the stunning Conwy Valley, containing the timeless Mean Y Bradd Dolmen. Seven miles to the north-west is the legendary Pen Y Pass, with trails that run all the way up to Mount Snowdon’s peak. The community at Betws Y Coed is bustling with hikers, climbers, Kayak enthusiasts, and campers, all enthusiastic to experience and share adventures. More generally, Wales is the legendary retreat of the band Led Zeppelin, and the inspiration for some of the best acoustic-blend rock-and-roll of all time. Revered author J.R.R Tolkien also stayed in Wales during the writing of The Lord of The Rings in the 1940’s, and was clearly influenced by it’s riveting beauty. The Lord of The Rings, through that beauty, has sold over 100 million copies world wide. If Wales is a place you wish to explore, think about staying in Betws Y Coed; 100 million readers can’t be wrong.:)
Note: In the presently modern condition the world finds itself in, filled with expanding urbanization in gentrifying cities across the globe, Killarney stands out as the ultimate Celtic haven, forever resisting through the sheer force of it’s natural beauty. Killarney is a dark Celtic fantasy, draped in jade, mingled with enchanted heights and mountain Gaps, where slanted stones literally hold coded messages of a Celtic era gone by. The view from the mountain peaks just south of Moll’s Gap is a hiker’s dream (top image), where you will need to gear-up in steel-tipped boots and a rain resistant windbreaker to truly enjoy the climb. Here the options are endless. Perhaps following a waterfall up a mountain sounds appealing. The angled stones of these long rivulets look to have been cut long ago, in order to influence the flow of the water. This is similar to many streams in New England and Scotland, where the landscapes appear to have been engineered in antiquity. Just one of hundreds of enchanting and mysterious features Killarney provides. The winding solitary dirt-roads far below have no names, but are known to be a portion of the majestic Ring of Kerry, where mountain biking is ideal. To the north is the crystalline Lake Brinn. Monumental slabs in the heights along the road headed to Moll”s Gap align to this lake, forever memorializing it as one of the best vantages in the world. These squared slabs of solid granite are a half mile above the road, and contain concentric rings that were carved into its face, representing a smooth contemplative perfection that is anything but primitive. These are priceless Celtic symbols. Moments in places where the concentric rings are crafted into the stones take on an almost Zen quality, the places photographers sacrifice to reach. When you find these rare sacred spots you share the beauty of the moment with those who marked it and gave it significance so long ago. You connect all the way to the beginning of Time. Further to the north more features of the landscape emerge, as well as more regulated hiking opportunities. Torc Waterfall is the largest Fall in Killarney. It’s a gorgeous cascade of falling water drifting down over massive boulders. A marked trail runs beside the fall, and up the beautifully forested mountain, for roughly two miles of elevated hiking. Above the Fall is a phenomenal view of Muckross and Leane Lakes, as well Ross Castle further to the north. The castle, built in the 15th century, is the centerpiece for several hiking trails that run to the west, through Ross Woods. There are several loops to choose from that run for miles through Celtic glades that are absolutely enchanting. Some of the rarer trees look to be 500 years in growth or more, seemingly from an entirely different era, and of a type I had never seen before. Every winding road and path in Killarney is a potential hiking experience. This is a place where looking over a map at night and planning the following days excursion to various Gaps, trails, and mountains is a true joy. For those who love epic drives, Killarney is a prize winner. By car you can arrive at several of the captivating vistas that Killarney is known for, such as Ladies View (pictured below), the Gap of Dunloe, or dozens of stops along the road to the Black Valley, at the southern edge of the Reserve. In so many of the still pockets of the park a deer may appear, as this delicate fawn did just west of the N71 road. (Bottom Image) Killarney is a venerable Celtic Valhalla for hikers, mountain bikers, cinematographers, dreamers, and naturalists, looking to tap into the best of what natures elements and energies have to offer. Killarney is not the sunny paradise of flighty escapist entertainments that so many western vacationers understandably seek out, but rather, it is an incredibly deep and often times dark Celtic dimension, full of rustic challenges and blue-grey breezes that end in otherworldly vantages. Just south of Killarney Town on the N71 road that runs through the park is a beautiful Standing Stone. It is yet another example of what megaliths often indicate, silently but strongly, that the area you are about to enter is a true wonderland.
Note: Imagine yourself walking on a broad plateau surrounded by miles of grass and swaying brush. Continue to imagine that you are curious enough to seek out the best elevation among these vast fields, following the slight incline, continually heading upward. You begin to see something distinct just above the landscape, off in the distance. At about 400 feet away you glimpse something entirely impossible. There before you are several circular stone enclosures towering above you. The hallowed presentation of the area is hard to comprehend, even in broad daylight. It is not a disheveled scene, but rather, a highly organized, dynamic and symmetric presentation, like a temple. You then realize, all at once, that you may be looking at the first temple on earth. If you don’t turn away in fear, your mind, whether it is that of a passing farmer, saint, knight, Celtic king, or simple serf of times past, will inevitably reach for that first logical question asked for thousands of years before: how? How did this happen? Let’s fast forward and look at some of the modern observations. The external ring is made up of Sarsen stone, each standing 30 feet high, at 25 tons each. This exterior ring looks to be incomplete, as only 16 of the original Sarsen stones are in place, while there is a significant gap on the opposite end. Was the ring ever fully completed? If it was finished, how could some stones then disappear? A secondary ring of 43 Blue Stones are distinct but also obviously incomplete, within the larger Sarsens. Some believe that there were as many as 80 Blue Stones originally. They weigh roughly 2 to 4 tons each, and were believed to be inserted thousands of years after the Sarsens. A third set of Lintel Stones are laid across the top of the Sarsens in different areas, revealing the intended circularity of the enclosure. The Lintels are not free-sitting, but are placed into grand notches that are carved into the top of the Sarsens, revealing yet another miraculous feat of engineering, besides the placement of the stones themselves. Lastly, at the innermost section of the rings of stone, are the five domineering Trilithons, set in a “horshoe” style configuration, including the lintels above them, weighing 50 colossal tons each. I was lucky enough to walk the grounds of Stonehenge on a sunny day, and got the best images I could, shown here. It was just as moving to step away and see others sizing up the scene, perhaps realizing, as I did, their own humanity; Perceiving that these stones have been here long before they were born, and will be there long after they are gone. Research continues regarding the meaning of this mystical place. Recent discoveries have revealed that Stonehenge is part of a grander overall context of ‘spiritual monuments’ once built into the land. Remnants of what is now being called “Woodhenge” has been found a few miles away, built in similar fashion to Stonehenge, near to the river Avon. Compelling theories about the ancient Britons utilizing Woodhenge as a temple to the living (cultural association with wood), which moves up along the River Avon in a procession towards Stonehenge (stone being culturally associated with the dead) in a ceremonial celebration of existence, have been put forward. Many researchers also believe Stonehenge was built as a type of ‘celestial clock’, marking the Summer and Winter Solstices for eternity. Another feature of the area is a beautiful ten foot high Standing Stone perched roughly 70 yards away from the Sarson circle. This stone, with its nodules and indented creases, looks somehow older than the Sarsons in the distance. It clearly looks as if it were standing guard over the area, warning passers by that the area is flat-out sacred, and to act accordingly. These “guardian stones” can be found near Dolmens and Wedge Tombs all across the Celtic world, standing at the periphery of sacred areas as warnings that visitors are entering a sacred space. This phenomenon exists also in New England, but in the form of free-sitting boulders. Boulders will be placed peripherally, strategically, to corner off a section of forest, cliff, or mountain plateau, in order to make passers-by aware that the area they enter contains sacred features. All of this could have originated at Stonehenge. The original myths and stories of the English country-folk say that giants are the builders of Stonehenge. Ceremonies of Celtic Kings and tribal leaders have taken place within this sacred circle for as long as recorded time has existed, including fantastic tales of Merlin and King Arthur intertwined with the history. Today it is an internationally protected historical site, with a museum and bus that runs along the hills up to the site for a ticket price. You also have the option to walk if you so choose. Stonehenge is the epitome and origin of everything magical about megaliths, once you see it, you cannot help but realize that so many wonderful things are still left to be understood. If you can, I hope you will give yourself that chance.
Note: The forests of Massachusetts are perhaps most well known for the prismatic foliage that unfolds during the brief and breathtaking Autumn season. What is less well known, and yet no less breathtaking, are the megalithic statements that exists deep within, and beneath, those forests. Yet another astounding example of this is “Purgatory Chasm” in the small New England town of Sutton. It is nothing less than a miniature canyon, of all things, with thousands of free-sitting-boulders, crafted stones, Wedge Tombs, and triadically oriented alters, all carved out of solid granite. Click on the images to get a closer look. The boulders here are so massive, that gigantic fallen trees, perhaps 80 t0 100 feet tall, and 150 years old (or older), look more like young trees that have been tipped by a storm in photos. Although this area is only a 1.5 mile loop, it is a non-stop tour of inconceivable stone statements from start to finish. It’s also a fantastic chance to practice your footing and climbing for other rocky trails. This small canyon has areas of 50 to 70 foot high granite enclosures, like solid walls shooting straight up from a bedrock floor, running about 100 feet across for just over half a mile. In this space huge White Pines, Cedars, Hemlocks, and Birches grow straight out of the rock, almost 100 feet high. Megalithic sites in New England often feature stones that have been crafted to highlight an equilateral triangular arrangement. Without seeing it, time after time, it would be very hard to believe. But again and again, stones are found to be arranged specifically to create this triangle (Pictured below). Furthermore, perfectly strong tree’s grow off the top of these arrangements. It’s as if whoever created these fixtures knew that the trees would grow on them, like grafting plants in a green house, but on a Jurassic scale, and using a “granite container”. Certain arrangements in these stones are nearly identical to rock statements I have documented in Ireland, particularly the Wedge Tomb type. The Wedge Tomb is an arrangement where a long and flatly crafted megalithic boulder is placed specifically over a supporting “corner boulder” as a “roof piece”. A frontal boulder is then planted as a sort of “sign” beside the empty space created by the “roof” and “corner” stones. Several examples are shown here with the small Wedge Tomb in the heart of Purgatory Chasm (first two images above). There is also a distinct four-foot-high Standing Stone with three circular incisions running right through its granite face, and a small Dolmen with a perfectly triangular gap featured at its core (pictured on the left). Even the openings to the rock caverns look to have been intentionally set so the entrance-way would be a “triangular”, looking from the inside-out (Image: center/above). The area is inundated with fine golden leaves of New England Autumns past, giving this pathway a unique luster that hikers will rarely find anywhere else. Seek it out:)
Elevation: 1,729 feet
Note: If you wanted to find the geographical heart of all Ireland, working your way towards the absolute center of the country, you would inevitably arrive at the beautiful medieval town of Kinnitty. After just a momentary glimpse of this landscape it truly seems as if the countryside itself has become aware of it’s central placement as the green-beating-heart of Ireland, producing a stellar Celtic scene absolutely worthy of this title. Kinnitty Mountain, along with the old forest that runs along it’s lower valley, sits just a half mile to the north-west of tranquil Kinnitty. Hikers can pick up the main trail into this gorgeous scene at one of the prettiest entry points in the world, behind Kinnitty Castle, built in the year 1209. The Castle remains fully functional, with fine dining, an accessible outer courtyard, and stables where horses are kept and trained on the mountain throughout the day. Headed towards the trail it feels as if you’ve walked into an epic fable, or a medieval saga. The trail begins just behind the stables beyond a small trickling stream. A stone-circle will appear on your right, just 20 yards away from the path. It is a picturesque scene, with a barn-house at the edge of the looming Wood. Unfortunately, the stone circle is not authentic, and was created by a previous owner of the estate some years ago, but it’s aesthetic effect is certainly complimentary. Continuing past the sign that reads ‘Kinnitty Forest’ just beyond the circle, the trail begins to climb. With the British incursion of Ireland beginning in the 12th century, the British Royals illustrious Navy and it’s ships, as well the occupying manors and hamlets abroad, which were built in support of the Crowns `expansion’, deforested Ireland almost entirely. The upside to to this is that the remaining trees that make up Kinnitty Forest are like the regal survivors of a once beautiful era, refusing to vanish. They loom over the trail protectively with a beautiful bright milky color that shines against the glades. Continuing above the tree line, the trail begins to circle the Mountain, just to the right. In the open air and Sun, Fairy Foxgloves and Clovers appear in bright clusters. If you look down, at an elevation of roughly 1600 feet, in the most landlocked trail in all of Ireland, you will discover Seashells mingled with the stones!. How these shells came to rest at the top of a mountain is just one of many wonderful discussions you might have while strolling through this fantastic Celtic scene. The loop continues for roughly 4.5 miles before returning to the Castle grounds. There are alternate trails that continue several miles to the north-east, into the Sleive Bloom Mountain Range, if you wish to continue the experience. Kinnitty Forest trail is truly the sacred heart of all Ireland, and in every possible way. It is a priceless glimpse into the way things once were, of a quieter more peaceful time that still lingers in the hills of this Celtic place. It is my hope that whoever reads this review, and takes it to heart, will one day experience it for themselves.
Note: About 10 miles south east of Mount Snowdon , tucked behind rocky passes and elevated clear-water lakes, is the wonderfully serene and scenic ‘Pen-Y-Pass’. With wide trails wrapping around massive mossy basins and jagged rocky caverns, this cinematic trail will carry you all the way to the peak of Snowdon if you so choose, following a north westerly course. Along the way waterfalls cut the mountainsides and streams trickle in the distance. This is a classic Celtic scene, with a minimal amount of forestry, but a wonderful collage of every shade of green imaginable. Reeds drift in the wind, blended with moss and grass on huge knolls and hills that roll, and roll again, in every distant direction. In the heights above cut-boulders and grand shafts of granite slice dramatic angles into the peaks. In the valley below, for those who have the eyes to see, are ancient Celtic alters dug into the landscape; Circular stone Cairns with centerpieces that are so old they seem to be almost consumed by the earth, sitting eternally in wait to be rediscovered. Circular stone alters with centering fixtures of very similar style exist in the forest of Foxboro Massachusetts, although there, they are covered by an ocean of foliage, and equally hard to decipher (An example of the circular alter is shown below, white granite and quartz stones covered by the classic red/orange leaves of New England trails/Please click on photos to look closer). Another wonderful feature of Pen-Y-Pass are the old stone dwellings, most likely of the medieval period, that have been long since abandoned by herdsman and farmers for lack of resources in the valley. The hills of this landscape are huge, with entire sections quarried out and abandoned. Some portions of the quarrying look to have been carried out perhaps no more than five hundred years ago, with less growth upon it, while other massive stones are completely grown over with moss, as if it were done perhaps thousands of years ago. Perhaps Pen-Y-Pass’s most shining quality is the feeling there. The air, when the weather is agreeable, is comfortably cool and clear. Everything you see: mountain, lake, hill, valley, look to be cut from the sky by a diamond. There is an echo in the soft and subtle movements of rams, water, and distant trailblazers. The car-park for this trail is just off the A4086 highway. If you ever come through this valley, do yourself a fantastic favor and plan at least one day to walk the timeless Celtic trail at Pen-Y-Pass, it just shouldn’t be missed.
Elevation: 1,500 feet
Note: Hiking experiences in the ancient Celtic high country of Wales are, simply put, breathtaking. Snowdonia National Park deservedly hosts a substantial amount of visitors in the north-west portion of Wales, centered around the majestic Mount Snowdon, which is the highest peak in the British Isles south of the Scottish Highlands at 3,560 feet. The history of Wales is interwoven with the preservation of Celtic peoples to its core, known as the last bastion of land that Celtic chieftains would not concede to the invading hoards of Gauls, Visigoths, and Vikings after the Roman withdrawal, circa 410 C.E. The Arthur Legend was born here. This is the very land that King Arthur and his knights defended to preserve the Celtic peoples. This landscape is the original backdrop for the Knights of The Round Table, for Sir Percival’s search for the Holy Grail, King Arthur’s battling of giants at the foot of Mount Snowdon, and Sir Gawain’s search for the mystical Green Knight, among hundreds of other wonderful tales. The countryside has a time honored mythical history that seems to have always inspired adventurers that reach boldly into the next valley for wonderful and magical zones. With that in mind, just 45 minutes north of the popularized Snowdonia tourist scene, sits a more conspicuous, but no less beautiful, opportunity for a truly rustic Celtic hiking experience in the serene Conwy Valley. At the top of this valley, above the small medieval town of Rowen, sits one of the most beautiful Dolmen’s in the world, the Maen Y Bardd Dolmen, and the hike to see it is epic. The Legend associated with this particular Dolmen is that of an ancient giant that would toss spears from one end of the Valley to the next, asserting his claim over the landscape, warding off any trespassers. In order to get to the Dolmen a hiker must follow a Roman road that runs beside the spot where it sits today, indicating that this megalith has existed from time immemorial. The Roman incursion of Wales took place around 40 C.E, and they were not known for the tender preservation of the opposing culture, yet they obviously let this Dolmen stand as they passed by. I can only think that they themselves saw that the Dolmen was sacred. The Roman’s were certainly aware of megaliths throughout the known world, and they were perhaps the most aware having conquered so much of it. There are Megaliths in Israel, Greece, Spain, France, England, Scotland, and Wales, and the Romans would have considered them. It’s makes sense that they would have known that the Dolmen had stood for perhaps as long as 3000 to 4000 years prior, and they simply did not dare to destroy something so rare, especially if it had no strategic purpose. In terms of ‘era’s’, this is a hike that will take you from the Modern, to Medieval, from Medieval to the Roman, and from the Roman to the Celtic, all in one day. To begin get an early start, and park in Rowen. Head towards the Gwersyll Cefn Cae Campsite road, and pass by it on your right. Continue to follow this road out of town and follow the first farmers-road slightly left towards Parciau Farm. Pass by the last farms on the edge of town to where the road narrows into a country lane, slowly elevating through classic moss blanketed Celtic forest. Push for roughly 1 mile through the trees to get above the tree line, where the path changes dramatically. Your trail will become lined with stoic stone-walls and Hawthorn hedges. Knolls and free-standing boulders emerge in every direction. Flocks of sheep scatter and glance from a distance. Fairy Foxglove flowers emerge all around with their striking and small lavender towers. The valley begins to emerge in a beautiful way. Continue for about a mile on this path and you will finally come to an elevated intersection with a panoramic view of the valley. Take the path to the right here, further upward, which is lined with another solid stone wall on your right. You will see, straight ahead and slightly above you, about 1.5 miles away, another road lining the valley above. This is the old Roman road. When you reach this ancient rocky causeway take a right, then follow it for about 1/4 of a mile. On the left of the causeway you will first see a beautiful 8 foot high, 3.5 feet wide granite Standing Stone, roughly 40 yards away. After stopping to appreciate this magnificent stone, continue in the same direction further along the Roman road, and look left again. The Dolmen sits about 50 yards away and can be seen from the road facing the valley below. It is a sight to behold. This is a classic “Portal Tomb” of the same era as the legendary Poulnabrone Dolmen in The Burren Ireland , across the Celtic Sea. Although it may look somewhat small against the broad valley, a closer look reveals a capstone weighing at least 5 tons. This capstone is directly aligned to a beautiful peak roughly ten miles away across the valley. This is a trait that most Dolmens display: the facing of the most beautiful vantage in the area. This would indicate that whoever built this Dolmen, even in deep antiquity, had a wonderful sense of Beauty, not to mention the engineering skill to build a megalith at a significant, and somewhat secluded, elevation. After finding the Dolmen hikers have several options on the return. You could continue along the Roman road for about 3 miles and veer to the right, back to Rowan, or go back the way you entered. If you return the way you came, just off the trail, there will emerge other standing stones, much more discreet, but no less significant, mixed into the hedges and knolls. This second Standing Stone stood along the long farmers road connected to the Roman road, 30 yards off to the left. Standing about 7 feet high and three feet wide; It looked to weight at least 5 tons. It has a significant curved incision on its right side, and the remaining piece from that incision was set as a fixture behind it, just to the left. This style can be found at a Standing Stone far across the Atlantic ocean at Lynn Woods in Massachusetts, where cut pieces from the main Standing Stone remain as fixtures in the immediate vicinity (Shown here in the red/orange leaves on the left). Another incredible option for your descent are the stone labyrinth pathways that wind down the valley like something out of a dream. If you choose to explore these options make sure you hike responsibly and mark a fixed point in the landscape in order not to get lost, or even better, bring a compass. The valley is massive; Hiking this high above Rowen there is a good chance that you will be the only individual(s) for possibly five or six miles in every direction. This particular pathway came out near the farmers road that ran down to the forest, just before the farms of Rowen, but be mindful that others exist, and in the valley there are unknown exit points. With all this considered, enjoy the exhilaration of what is obviously a sacred landscape that we know, due to the megaliths it contains, has been appreciated for an incedible span of time that literally reaches back beyond recorded history. This place truly reminded me of a valley in the game Skyrim I love so much. Seeking it out was an achievement born of the inspiration taken from that game, sitting in my room in the dead of winter four months earlier, dreaming of Celtic valleys in Summer. I have to pay it tribute here. If you can dream of these places, you can find them. Seek and find.