The remains of a hilltop fort and medieval abbey are just two of the many highlights of this Denbighshire classic
Photo: © Nick Sevarg, Creative Commons
With numerous festive events at venues across town, and Christmas specials on the historic railway and canal, Llangollen is normally a feast of colours, smells and excitement at this time of year.
And even if the full programme of Yuletide cheer isn’t available in 2020, it’s still a wonderful place to be during the winter months, with the excitable River Dee raging beneath the bridge and with Castell Dinas Bran overlooking town and valley.
The latter is one of three historic features passed on this walk, along with Valle Crucis Abbey and Llangollen Canal.
It’s a short, sharp grunt to get to the castle that sits on top of the conical 320-metre hill. But it’s well worth it, especially on a sunny winter’s day when the shadows from the scenic remains of the fortress spread across the summit, surpassed only by the incredible views.
A couple of miles further on is Valle Crucis Abbey. Those looking forward to an enormous Christmas dinner should try to imagine what festive feasts would have been like here. The hospitality during the Middle Ages was legendary, with ale ‘flowing like a river’. Today, it’s one of Wales’ best-preserved abbeys.
Finally, there’s Llangollen Canal, passed briefly at the start of the walk, then again towards the end, when you can enjoy meandering along the towpath now that all the ascent is complete.
And once the hard work is over, let’s hope one of Llangollen’s many pubs and cafes will be able to reward your efforts with a post-walk mulled wine!
AT A GLANCE
Where: Llangollen, Denbighshire
Distance: 5.7 miles
Start: The bridge over the River Dee, Castle Street, Llangollen
Grid Ref: SJ215421
Post Code: LL20 8NY
Map: OS Explorer 255 Llangollen & Berwyn
All maps ©Crown copyright 2020 Ordnance Survey. Media 052/20
1. Cross the road near the station entrance to take the footpath to the canal. Turn right alongside the canal past the cafe, then cross the canal bridge and take footpath opposite, sign posted Castell Dinas Bran / Offa’s Dyke Path. This crosses a minor road, then continues through several kissing gates to the summit and the castle.
2. Cross the castle remains to the east, heading for a wall. Take the path heading still east and downhill, left, between the walls, to pick up the path down the eastern side of the castle to the gate.
3. Go through this gate down a graded but steep path to another gate. Don’t go through this, but instead turn left to walk with the fence on your right. Follow this path as it eventually bends right to a lane.
4. Turn right along the lane. Continue ahead at the junction to emerge at the main road (A542).
5. Turn right along the side the road to the gate and footpath ahead. Follow this past the farm buildings until the path arrives at the edge of a small ravine with a caravan and camping site on the other side of the stream. Take the footpath down the steps and over the footbridge to the entrance to Valle Crucis Abbey.
6. From here, head south-west through the kissing gate and take the footpath across the field back to the A road. Cross the road to the footpath opposite. Follow the path as it now climbs steadily up the side of the hill. It then levels out and goes down to the B road.
7. Cross the road and turn left into the Chain Bridge Hotel car park. Walk to the far end and go over the canal bridge and onto the towpath. Follow the towpath east back to the café you passed earlier, then go right downhill back to the start.
This walk is courtesy of The Ramblers www.ramblers.org.uk
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The most recent castle at Castell Dinas Bran only stood for around 15 or 20 years. It’s believed to have been built in the 1260s by the Welsh prince Gruffydd II ap Madog and was destroyed by the English king Edward I in 1277.
- The Llangollen Canal was built by engineer Thomas Telford to connect Shropshire with North Wales and Merseyside. The arm of the canal featured on this walk was constructed to provide a water source from higher up the Dee Valley at Horseshoe Falls.