Llangollen: 1

A circular walk of 9 miles including 1,000 feet of elevation overall (excluding Dinas Bran) Start Point: Panorama Walk, Llangollen LL20 8ED. Map References: SJ 2340243187 or Lat: 52.980530 Lon: -3.142302 

adult-blur-boots-1452784Llangollen is a small town in Denbighshire on the River Dee, and this walk takes in some of its major points of interest ie: the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran, the Llangollen canal with its horse-drawn barges, and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (pronounced ‘pont-kur-suck-tay’). The town is known for its network of canals and no less than 21 locks. Built by Thomas Telford in 1805 the Pontcysyllte remains the longest and tallest aqueduct in Britain.

For those wanting something a little more challenging, it’s easy to increase the elevation of this route by including the optional walk up and over Castell Dinas Bran, which adds around an extra 1,000 feet of climbing. Castell Dinas Bran translates to English as: The Castle of the City of Crows. Perched on a conical hill above Llangollen it enjoys fantastic aerial views and despite its dilapidated state, commands not only a strong historical presence, but also one of love, legend and fairytale. But don’t be fooled by the romance of it all, epic battles and crimes against king and country have plundered across these soils for centuries. If this was a walk through fiction, we could expect every genre under the sun.

More on the castle: https://janruth.com/2015/07/21/castle-of-the-crows/

  1. Park on Panorama Walk; a narrow elevated road with plenty of parking space and fantastic far-reaching views across the vale of Llangollen including the River Dee, the castle ruins, and the canal. Keeping this panorama to your left, walk towards Castell Dinas Bran, following the markers denoting the Offa’s Dyke Path. Turn Left over a cattle grid and walk a short distance along the narrow lane to locate a kissing-gate to the right, just beneath Castell Dinas Bran.
  2. The optional path to the summit is clear. Alternatively, bear right and head downhill on the pasture between the gorse. Ignore the vehicle track to the right and keep following the basin/dip in the land as it heads towards trees. The path becomes clearer as it skirts around the base of Castell Dinas Bran and heads into a wooded area, with farm buildings up on the right.
  3. Pass through a wooden kissing-gate and continue along the obvious path keeping the fence-line to the right. (If you’ve chosen to climb Dinas Bran, rejoin the route here by taking the path to the right of a small mound and this will join the alternative lower path.) Pass through the metal Kissing-gate and continue along the cobbled lane.
  4. Turn left at the crossroads and continue past a couple of dwellings into a wooded area. Go through the gate at the end and into pasture land, where the track follows the ridge and arrives at another gate onto a narrow road. Turn left here and go over the stile ahead into farmland. Keep right.
  5. Bear left across the second field to a stile, then turn left through the gate where a footpath marker confirms you’re on the ‘Community Miles Route.’ At the next marker post, turn right and go through a metal gate to cross a field to a stile by a farm track, at Llandyn Hall. Bear left here, and cross in front of a row of cottages.
  6. Take the gate on the right up by the finger-post and walk through pasture along the ridge towards the line of trees, and on to a wooden stile. Turn right along the lane, passing some cottages, then go through the metal gate and descend on a wooded footpath.
  7. Go straight on to the end of this track and once at the road, turn right, then cross the road and take the stile onto the canal towpath by the lay-by. Follow the towpath then for almost 3 miles, heading towards the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
  8. Leave the canal just after the fingerpost sign for the aqueduct at Trevor Basin via a long metal ramp. Cross the canal using the wooden bridge and continue onto the road at the top. Cross into Trevor Boat Yard for access to the aqueduct, pub, shop, cafe. It’s possible to walk across the aqueduct if you feel so inclined, but you do need a head for heights. Alternatively, head for the pub.
  9. Return along the same path back to the canal, but don’t cross over the wooden bridge and instead, continue towards a kissing-gate into a field. Walk to the next gate at the far side and turn left along an obvious footpath passing beneath the railway line. Turn right and begin following the Offa’s Dyke path markers as the path zig zags up to a set of stone steps and onto the road.
  10. Cross the road and turn left. After a short distance, take the first turning on the right along Trevor Hall Road. Where the road bends to the right, continue straight ahead on the private, unmade road signed for Offa’s Dyke. After a short distance, turn right into the trees at the footpath sign.
  11. Follow the ascending track as it eventually passes alongside grazing land and then into Trevor Hall Woods. At the fork in the path, take the higher path signed for Offa’s Dyke and continue to follow this route at the next fork where it indicates keep right.
  12. At the end of the trees pass through the wooden gate and turn sharp right to ascend the open hillside, keeping the drystone wall to your right. At the top, turn left and follow the driveway as it winds back up to Panorama Walk.

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.