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Ruabon Moors 2 days / 16miles (26km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 13 Sep 2019
Start: Coedpoeth / Finish: Llangollen.
Maps: Explorer 256 Wrexham and Llangollen.

Day 1Minera Mine, Esclusham Mountain & Ruabon Mountain9.0miles / 1491 feet (14.5km / 454m)
Day 2Eglwyseg Mountain & Trevor Quarry7.0miles / 644 feet (11.3km / 196m)
View to Cyrn-y-Brain from Esclusham Mountain

A 2-day route traversing the Ruabon moors to the north-east of Llangollen, an extensive area of high heather moorland forming the eastern fringe of the Dee hills.

The approach to Esclusham Mountain from Coedpoeth visits the Minera lead mines and skirts the extensive Minera limestone quarries, a geological site that is now an important conservation area at varying stages of recolonisation.

The southern section follows the high level traverse of Eglwyseg Mountain above the superb line of incised crags that we saw from below on our last backpack three months ago, giving excellent views to the west. This section is part of the Llangollen Round and occasionally waymarked.

The final section passes through Trevor Quarry, discovered quite fortuitously, and joins the Llangollen canal for an easy finish in Llangollen.

Both days of this trip were in almost constant sunshine, chilly nights and warm days giving excellent views.

Day 1 - Minera Mine, Esclusham Mountain & Ruabon Mountain

From the main road in Coedpoeth we followed Assembly Road to the good footpath that descends to cross the Afon Clywedog and ascends to the site of the Minera lead mine and visitor centre, closed today. At the upper end of the site we joined the dismantled railway heading north-westwards to the buildings at SJ259519 where we crossed a bridge and located the footpath ascending into the trees. Careful mapwork required here: being a country park there are inviting little paths that lead to dead ends, but we emerged from the trees at a stile and waymark indicating the way westwards following a little walked faint line.

The path improves as it curves around the edge of the Minera limestone quarry conservation area, giving a good overall view of the quarry faces and later passing the striking remains of another mine.

Minera lead mine and engine house
Minera lead mine and engine house (13 Sep 2019__10:22:10)
Minera limestone quarries
Minera limestone quarries (13 Sep 2019__11:54:13)
Disused mine
Disused mine (13 Sep 2019__11:56:51)

The path reaches a minor road and a track continues easily to the 456m trig point of Esclusham Mountain with extensive views eastwards over the plains of Denbighshire and farther afield into Cheshire. The ever prominent Cyrn-y-Brain and its masts stand out to the west across an ocean of heather, rather muted in colour compared to the vibrant vistas we remember from years ago, partly because we were past the optimum time of year for purple blooms and partly because the heather is suffering this year as described by the National Trust. It was however heartening to see the large numbers of bees browsing the flowers.

View east from Esclusham Mountain 456m trig point
View east from Esclusham Mountain 456m trig point (13 Sep 2019__12:33:40)

We followed a good track southwards and branched off right down a side track towards a prominent old mine site and on to the minor road.

Beluga Airbus Super Transporter

A short walk along the road we took the footpath north-westwards crossing the Aber Sychnant to the edge of Llandegla forest, a very wet line beyond the stream. On this traverse a large odd-looking aircraft approached us from the north and slowly made a 90° turn at low altitude above us: it turned out to be a Beluga Airbus Super Transporter plane for outsize cargo. We managed a hand-held zoomed snapshot.

The wet path reaches the forest where the direct line along the edge was far too rough to contemplate. Fortunately there is a forest track a short way inside the trees that forms a section of an off-road bike trail, one of several such trails that are extremely popular in Llandegla according to one of the cyclists who stopped to chat to us. The track passes a wooden hide where the black grouse might be observed and roughly parallels the forest edge to meet the Offa's Dyke trail giving an easy walk back over the moor to the minor road.

A short way down the road there was a second Beluga freighter pass following approximately the same course.

Disused shaft on flank of Esclusham Mountain
Disused shaft on flank of Esclusham Mountain (13 Sep 2019__12:56:57)

Approaching Worlds's End we branched left on a side track ascending south-eastwards towards Ruabon Mountain. Where the track curves around the forest corner, we continued in the same direction on another track to an intersection at a local high point of the moor - here the adjacent track would be our return route tomorrow.

Just past the intersection is a horizontal memorial cross fashioned from stones marking the site of a WW2 aircraft crash of a Bristol Beaufighter in which the Polish pilot was lost. Ruabon Mountain bears a grim wartime toll: 13 aircraft crashes, including 4 Spitfires, and an estimated 2000 bomb drops that ravaged the moor.

The red painted stone in the centre of the cross is inscribed "Cofiwch Dryweryn" which translates as "Remember Tryweryn". According to the reference, this was an angry protest against the flooding of Treweryn Valley to form the Llyn Celyn reservoir and the phrase has become a symbol of Welsh nationalism.

We made an excellent pitch on an oasis of cropped grass with fine views eastwards over the plains. The full moon cast its glow on the tent as we experienced an almost constant low-level cackling of grouse throughout the night. The red grouse has declined in recent times but the much rarer black grouse has increased - whether these were red or black is unknown. Ruabon Mountain is still the one and only place we have seen the black grouse previously.

Memorial cross on Ruabon Mountain
Memorial cross on Ruabon Mountain (13 Sep 2019__17:29:07)
Pitch on Ruabon Mountain
Pitch on Ruabon Mountain (13 Sep 2019__17:55:35)

Day 2 - Eglwyseg Mountain & Trevor Quarry

The dawn was crystal clear and the unseen grouse were still cackling intermittently as we broke camp and picked up the track back towards the forest. Rounding the south-eastern corner we branched left on a track ascending south-westwards up the flank of Eglwyseg Mountain. This was a superb easy walk above the Eglwyseg crags with grand views westwards to the Llantysilio hills and into the incised ravines below.

Farther south the path approaches the edge where the excellent rocky lip can be seen edge-on and Castell Dinas Bran is well seen from an elevated viewpoint.

World's End upper crag
World's End upper crag (14 Sep 2019__09:25:57)
Llantysilio hills from Eglwyseg Mountain
Llantysilio hills from Eglwyseg Mountain (14 Sep 2019__09:35:43)
View west over Eglwyseg crags
View west over Eglwyseg crags (14 Sep 2019__10:28:22)
View west over Eglwyseg crags
View west over Eglwyseg crags (14 Sep 2019__10:43:00)
View west over Eglwyseg crags
View west over Eglwyseg crags (14 Sep 2019__10:52:17)
Edge of Eglwyseg crags
Edge of Eglwyseg crags (14 Sep 2019__11:25:36)
Edge of Eglwyseg crags
Edge of Eglwyseg crags (14 Sep 2019__11:42:13)
Castell Dinas Bran
Castell Dinas Bran (14 Sep 2019__11:50:44)

At the southern end of the edge path we descended back right on a zigzag path to the minor road where several cars were parked, though we were not quite sure exactly at which point. We saw an unmarked though prominent and well walked path continuing onwards towards some crag scenery that looked interesting and we took it. This was an excellent walk, descending through attractive woodland to a stream and emerging into what we later discovered was Trevor Quarry, a site often used by climbers and forming a very fine craggy landscape.

Descending from Eglwyseg edge
Descending from Eglwyseg edge (14 Sep 2019__11:59:46)
View back to Eglwyseg crags
View back to Eglwyseg crags (14 Sep 2019__12:10:21)
Entering Trevor Quarry
Entering Trevor Quarry (14 Sep 2019__12:21:04)
Trevor Quarry
Trevor Quarry (14 Sep 2019__12:24:05)

At the end of the Trevor Quarry site near the old buildings, still not being at all sure of our position on the confusing map, we spotted a footpath sign immediately below on the road pointing downwards through the fields and woodland. We took this footpath and at the first waymark, the way ahead looked instantly familiar: it was the same route as our previous backpack a few weeks ago at Bron Heulog.

Thus we followed the same path to the Llangollen Canal and westwards to the town, once again heaving on a very warm sunny Saturday.

Llangollen canal
Llangollen canal (14 Sep 2019__13:20:01)
The Dee at Llangollen
The Dee at Llangollen (14 Sep 2019__13:47:26)