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Castell Carreg Cennan

Given that the Highlife headquarters are based in Snowdonia, its no surprise that one of our favourite clients to work for is Cadw. In 2021 we've had the privelege of working on many great castles and other monuments across the length and breadth of Wales, and we've even been lucky enough to work on some local monuments, minutes from home. These jobs always appeal to us - they're almost always situated in the beautiful Welsh countryside, we find the work engaging, and the history of these monuments is always fascinating.

Working on our most local monument - Dolbadarn Castle in Llanberis. Photo credit - Ray Wood

By far the jewel in the crown this year, however, has been Castell Carreg Cennan in the Brecon Beacons. Sat on top of a huge limestone precipice, this castle changed hands between the Welsh and English many times over the years, and was even a Lancastrian stronghold during the war of the roses. Nowadays it is in a ruinous state and lies on land owned by the local farmer, Bernard Llewellyn, who was kind enough to help us carry our gear to the top of the hill on his quadbike. Even after a couple of hours on site it was easy to see why they'd built a castle here. Forget the cliffs, just attacking up the hillside would have been desperate.

We'd agreed that during our visit we would be filmed by Channel 4 for the docuseries 'Epic Wales', so the first day the film crew followed us around and got some setting up shots while we located the work areas. After having a chat with the crew about what we were doing, they decided the focus of the show would be removing some ivy from the walls above the precipice. We found this amusing because it was a small task and didn't feel like a particularly big deal to us, and it certainly wasn't as interesting as getting involved with the masonry repairs. But the telly is telly and it needs drama, and in all fairness the drone shots of the cliffs did make the show live up to its name.

The camera man enjoying his first time on a rope!

After the first day they left us to it and we were able to get on with the meat of the work, which was the repair of two failing broached aretes near the entrance to the castle. We got these raked out and repointed without any issues, and then set about scouting the wall tops for loose stone. Fortunately, the castle was in pretty good condition, and there weren't any nasty surprises.

At the end of the week the film crew came back and got their shots of us removing the ivy. We had a bit of wind, which made it slightly more exciting, especially for the camera man who had decided earlier in the week that the best shot would be hanging on a rope - a first for him! Soon enough it was all wrapped up though, and we were able to pack everything down and pile it back onto Bernard's quadbike to get it back down to the van. Another great week in a fantastic spot completed.

The newly repaired broached aretes

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