Posted by: leafvigurs | March 6, 2012

The House of Stone. Part 1

‘Dref Gerrig’ (House of Stone) has for nearly fifteen years now been a place of refuge.  It is over a five hour drive from where we currently live in Essex, traveling west across the country up motorways and monotonous grey A roads, till eventually the fields and plains begin to blossom into hillside somewhere between Shrewsbury and the Welsh border. The A483 forgets its long straight past and carelessly wriggles its way through woods, over bridges, and past the sheep and tiny houses that cling to the rocky landscape. The land either side rises majestically and the colours change from browns and greys into greens and oranges. Hills slowly mature into mountains.

Dref Gerrig itself is located on the lower slopes of Cadair Idris, a mountain 892 metres high to the south of the Snowdonia National Park. It is the first mountain I ever knew, having been taken there by my dad a good many years ago. It is also a place I feel a little closer to my grandad, a keen cyclist who once cycled there and carried his bike up Foxes Path, a 300 metre scree run, to the summit. Though by no means a big mountain, only the 19th tallest in Wales, it is a beautiful place, and the sight of it on the final approach to Dolgellau always fills me with a deep contentment.

The road from Dolgellau to the cottage is a slightly nerve wracking affair, as the road narrows and rises steeply alongside a sudden drop to the river. Fortunately Dref has its own meandering drive, off the road and away from local drivers with more carefree attitudes to blind corners. Pulling up behind the cottage feels like coming home, and the familiar clank and squeak of the gate welcomes us.

Dref is a seventeenth century dry stone cottage. Heated by two wood burning stoves, its thick walls soon warm and keep out all moods of weather. It has everything that matters (kettle, kitchen, bath and shower, comfy chairs), and a strange collection of things that don’t (dart board, electric piano, gorilla, and various pictures including Constable’s The Haywain’). Perhaps as importantly, it has no television or internet, and I have never used the radio there. I was a little disappointed to discover that mobile coverage now creeps intermittently inside the house, but there is a reason mobile phones have an off button.

To the front of the cottage is low wall, a place to sit and drink tea, while gazing out to the mountains across the sheep speckled fields. Behind lies a stretch of mixed woodland, the dark pines and conifers give it a brooding appearance, and hide the rocks and boulders that have tumbled down the mountain. The surrounding dry stone walls gently subside into shapeless mounds carpeted in moss, and lichens of all shapes drip from the trees. In the day buzzards patrol the sky and lizards scuttle in shadows, and at night bats perform their acrobatics while owls call out to each other.

It is a beautiful place to be and a beautiful place to share with people. I was introduced by good friends, and have since shared it with other good friends including my brother. Life can seem to speed past so quickly, so this time a five hour drive was a small price to pay to be here for the first time with my wife.

I began to wonder if she would love the mountain as much as me…


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