|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 21 Jun 2019
Start: Llidiart y Parc / Finish: Llangollen.
Maps: Explorer 256 Wrexham and Llangollen.
|Day 1||Moel Morfydd, Moel y Gamelin & Cyrn-y-Brain||8.6miles / 2905 feet (13.8km / 885m)|
|Day 2||World's End, Eglwyseg & Llangollen Canal||9.2miles / 923 feet (14.8km / 281m)|
A 2-day route across the Llantysilio hills to the north of the River Dee, returning via World's End and the excellent path below the western crags of Eglwyseg Mountain. The Llangollen canal provides an easy and picturesque finish.
A summer solstice backpack for 2019, a couple of days of fine weather was at last forecast after a cold wet spell and this was a most enjoyable trip, revisiting the hills in the west and including some new sections of trail on the eastern side, in particular the full traverse of the excellent path below the Eglwyseg cliffs that hosts a fragment of the Offa's Dyke Path (ODP).
In July 2018 the flanks of Llantysilio Mountain were ravaged by a moorland fire and this traverse of Moel y Gamelin was a sad affair, seeing the charred bare slopes that were once ablaze with the vibrant pinks of heather on our last visit in September 2002. Strategy for recovery is no doubt being discussed at length but full restoration will take years.
Alighting at Llidiart y Parc, a short walk down the road is Carrog and its bridge across the Dee, built in 1661 to replace the ford higher up the river as explained with more history of the village on an information board.
Our ascent route follows the Dee Valley Way eastwards along the lane from the bridge and departs steeply up towards the trees. The way climbs steadily north-eastwards to the pass road at Bwlch y Groes: if there was ever any doubt about the line before there is none now, a very well worn gritty track marks the line of traverse beginning with a climb to Moel Morfydd. The character of the views constantly changed today under a patchy sky of dark cloud and brilliantly clear blue.
The track continues over the hill fort summit of Moel y Gaer and quite steeply up the horribly eroded scar on the western flank of Moel y Gamelin, rendered even more stark today against the backdrop of dark, burnt-bare hillside. The views however were very clear extending from the distant Snowdonia mountains to Cheshire, if a little dim under the intermittent dark cloud.
Leaving the summit cairn of Moel y Gamelin the track swings north-east towards the next summit of Moel y Faen, perched above the expanse of a working quarry. The Ponderosa cafe is now in view below, beloved of bikers for the sweeping curves of the Horseshoe Pass road and the host for popular motorcycle gatherings. The descent path is now directed along a new line to aid the regeneration of the hillside flora.
We picked up some extra food and drinks and left via the metal gate behind the cafe leading directly to a path onto the open hillside. This path joins the access track to the masts atop Cyrn-y-Brain, a leisurely ascent to the 565m summit windshelter and first transmitter station with more extensive views.
The path continues to the left of the second transmitter enclosure and alongside the fence to reach a stile giving access to a thin path through the heather to a trig point and Sir Watkin's Tower, a grandiose name for a very small overgrown mound crowned by a tiny pile of stones, the remains of a folly built on the site of a Bronze Age cairn.
We made our pitch here on the only heather-free small patch of ground, a spot we used back in 2002, overgrown but very comfortable when flattened.
We returned to the main path that follows the edge of Llandegla Forest, doubling as a watercourse at times and reaching the ODP that heads south-east as a narrow path through the heather, well duckboarded across the boggy bits to a narrow lane. A mysterious oscillating metallic whine that puzzled us for a while turned out to be a drone, its operator parked just off the road, no doubt we feature in yet another section of film footage displayed somewhere.
The lane heads south down to the wooded valley of World's End, a fine prospect unfolding before us.
The ODP ascends on a fine woodland path to begin a splendid traverse on a thin path beneath the incised western cliffs of Eglwyseg Mountain that I have called "Eglwyseg crags". This clear sunny day was perfect to enjoy the crag scenery and great views across the valley.
At Rock Farm the glorious traverse is alas forced down onto the road, such a pity that the path can't continue at the same height. Passing Castell Dinas Bran we left the ODP on the right fork in the road and walked to the footpath descending at Bron Heulog. The footpath is waymarked and cuts back west through a narrow strip of woodland,crossing a stream at a footbridge. Emerging from the trees, a waymark points right back uphill but we followed the obvious leafy path down left directly to the A539.
On the south side of the road is the access point to the Llangollen Canal towpath, a surfaced track shared by walkers and cyclists. This track is a another fine woodland route with much scenery to enjoy, passing a drawbridge and arriving at the canalside tearoom where we descended to the Dee bridge in Llangollen. As we have noted several times before, Llangollen is always heaving but this was a warm sunny Saturday and it was something else!.