Llantysilio Mountain

A circular walk of 7 miles including 2,000 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: The Ponderosa Cafe on the Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen, Denbighshire. LL20 8DR. Map References: SJ1926748058  or Lat: 53.023701  Lon: -3.205093

adult-blur-boots-1452784Llantysilio Mountain is a collective name for a group of hills which run westwards from the top of the Horseshoe Pass. The main peaks are Moel Y Faen, Moel Y Gamelan, Moel Y Gaer, and Moel Morfydd; whose summit claims a specific trig point. Moel Y Gaer is denoted by the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, although evidence of human activity on these hills dates back to the Bronze Age with a large burial chamber located on the summit of Moel Y Gamelan.

In 2018 a large swathe of this landscape was lost to wildfire but despite this drab start underfoot, the slow reveal of extensive views over the Dee Valley towards Llangollen and the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran, more than make up for the blackened gorse and heather. The moorland is home to the rare Black Grouse as well as other moorland birds such as the Golden Plover, Ring Ouzel, and Merlin. Walking is on wide, clearly defined undulating paths. Some of the sections are steep. The second half of the route is easier going, connecting up with part of the Clwydian Way, before continuing eastwards past the disused Moel Y Faen slate quarries.

 

The route

  1. Take the path opposite the Ponderosa Cafe in a south-westerly direction, which travels parallel to the road before bearing right, and uphill.
  2. At the top of the first knoll, bear left to continue. Thereafter the way is clearly denoted by wide tracks streaking across the aforementioned summits. At the trig point of Moel Morfydd the distance from the start will be 2.85 miles.
  3. Descend from this summit to see a post at the bottom indicating the Llangollen Round. Turn off the main pathway here and bear right along a sheep track which gradually descends to a well-hidden single-track road.
  4. Turn right. After a short distance on the right, a finger-post denotes a bridleway. Follow this until the bridleway swings right, and a stile presents itself by a gate.
  5. Go over the stile and follow the footpath through fields and pasture land until you reach a pair of wide double wooden gates with a stile and a finger post. Pass through the gate but ignore the finger post to the right and go straight on passing through all gates.
  6. At a fork in the path alongside a stone wall, take the right-hand path, ignoring the lower track leading to a metal gate.
  7. At the end of this path, stride over the low wire fence – it looks as if some stiles are missing on this section. Keep the quarry and the fence-line to your left, walking straight on through pasture, until the road comes into view.
  8. Bear left to find a wire gate/barrier which allows you to pass onto the road. Turn right, and follow the road for around a mile back to the Ponderosa.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.

Penycloddiau

A circular walk of 6.5 miles including 1,200 feet of elevation overall. Start Point: Coed Llangwyfan car park on the minor road between the village of Nannerch and Llangwyfan, LL16 4NA. Map References:  SJ: 1389566856 or Lat: 53.191797 Lon: -3.290199

The Clwydian Hills stretch for around 20 miles, rising between the Vale of Clwyd and the Dee Estuary. This undulating landscape is less rugged than the big mountains of Snowdonia, but when visibility is poor in the national park, the weather across the Clwydian hills can often be less harsh. The softer, quieter countryside is a great alternative for those walkers not always driven to scale the popular summits, although Snowdonia is often visible as a jagged horizon across the Vale of Clwyd.

Penycloddiau, one of the largest hillforts in Wales, dates to the Iron Age, around 800BC to 43AD. The Bronze Age cairn at the north end of the fort was restored in 2010 and in 2017, excavations by the Clywdian Range Archaeology Group unearthed a significant number of 4,000-year-old stone tools from the Bronze Age. Most of the fort is defended by a single bank, which in places is made solely of stone. Many hut circles are recorded but are now sadly buried beneath heather and bilberry.

The route

  1. From the car park, take the footpath up in the far righthand corner, signed for Penycloddiau and Offa’s Dyke path; denoted by the acorn marker. Follow the track through the edge of the fir trees, climbing steadily until presented with an obvious turn to the right over a stile and onto open hillside.
  2. The route here is straightforward, following the well-defined track towards the  summit of the hillfort, denoted by a stone cairn. The descent from here is well-marked until you reach another small knoll. Don’t ascend this, bear right and head towards the bank of fir trees and the very visible communications mast on Moel y Parc
  3. A number of paths meet here. Turn sharp left to take up the Clwydian Way, and follow the public byway – The Cilfford Byway – for about 1.5 miles of easy walking with good views across the Vale of Clwyd to the right.
  4. At the end of the byway, turn left on the single-track road. The first footpath on the left will take you back up to the car park – alternatively, continue along the road for a few yards and take the first footpath/bridleway to the right.
  5. Go through the metal gate into open pasture, passing a new property called Pen y Bryn on the right. Follow the track as it swings to the left, passing through several gates and eventually into a wooded area.
  6. Pass through the final gate into open grazing land, where the track doubles back up to the left between a small stone barn and a wooden shack. Follow the track as it winds across the lower reaches of Moel Arthur. The route is less distinct here but the bank of fir trees at the start of the walk and the communications mast are both clearly visible ahead. Keep these to your left as you descend due north.
  7. At the bottom of the hill, pass through the gate onto the single-track road. Turn right and after a few yards, you’ll reach the car park on the left.

The described route is a guide only, it’s always advisable to use a map or a GPS device.