Velvet Hill 2018
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Llangollen Circular via Velvet Hill: 19th July 2018

This was my last full day in Llangollen and the weather, which was hotting up again, still promised to be OK for walking. After a good hotel breakfast, I headed for Geraint Hill, south west of Llangollen. This was where some folk had built houses with nice views over Llangollen. The path above Berwyn had done a disappearing act, but I managed the descent through the trees and the summer undergrowth! It was time for a quick drink at the Berwyn Hotel, located in a very scenic position on the bank of the Avon Dyfrdwy (... err ... River Dee). Telford's Berwyn Falls and the village of Llantysilio were next on the route.

View from Velvet Hill across to Castell Dinas Brân.

Then I rose to higher things on the path around the hill to the Britannia Inn. After this it was a short distance to Vale Crucis and the steep climb up to Velvet Hill to enjoy the good views. Then there was a steep descent to the Llangollen Canal. This took me back to Llangollen itself, past the Motor Museum (alas closed) and the white Eisteddfod Tent. Time for an evening repast.

Starting out from the Hotel

In the hotel I filled in the time before breakfast by searching out aspects such as prints which had previously escaped my notice. I made some new discoveries and also soaked up a bit more of the elegant ambience which the hotel exudes. This section bears witness to my modest pre-prandial activities.

Hotel Print: Beddgelert. Detailed investigation suggests that this looks like a print of a print, but it's a nice scene! In addition, it's a good reproduction.

Stow House in Buckinghamshire from the equestrian statue (of George I?) in the Park.
What's this doing in Wales?

"French Half-Bred Government Stallion"
I think a "Government Stallion" is (or was) used for breeding purposes!

Elegant carpet on the first floor.

"The Kite"

Carved bench in the lobby.

Llangollen Bridge from the terrace.



Breakfast over, it's time to start my circular walk to Llantysilio and Velvet Hill.

Geraint Hill

Geraint Hill (AKA Barber's Hill) is an easy way to get out into the countryside away from Llangollen. I had good views back over the town and towards Castell Dinas Brân, and those that built their houses (des res style) on the hill thought so too. I got talking to a local farmer, who, from the way I pronounced "Corwen" thought I was Welsh. However, my knowledge of the Welsh language is very modest indeed! The only challenge on this part of the walk was finding the path off the hill down to Berwyn; the map and the path marker said the path should be there. The official path through the trees seems to have got lost in the summer undergrowth! So, some improvisation was needed.

On the way out of Llangollen there are good views back over the town and beyond.
This of course, is our familiar friend the Castell.

Instead of taking the path to the left, which is the North Berwyn Way we took on Saturday to Vivod Mountain, we follow the quiet road that will take us around Geraint Hill and on to Berwyn.

Another view over Llangollen.

View in the direction of Vale Crucis.

It's that Castell again ...

... and yet again.

This "des res" is perched on the hillside and has been built not to roll down the hill.

The residents of this "des res" can see
the Castell almost every waking moments of their existence.

More views ...

... and yet more views ...

... and yet more views ...

... and yet more views!

Here is another "des res" ...

... and here is another view. The Castell is determined not to get away.

Berwyn - Station and Chain Bridge

Berwyn lies in a narrow part of the Dee Valley, and therefore, as expected is very scenic location on the Llangollen Heritage Railway. Not only is the station attractive, but the old road bridge and the newly restored chain bridge add to the charm of the location. I arrived in time to see the Llangollen-bound train, hauled by the Standard 2-6-4 Tank, stop at the station. I also decided it was time to stop for a quick beverage at the hotel, before continuing to the Horseshoe Falls and Llantysilio Village.

Part of the official path down to Berwyn was overgrown,
so a sense of direction had to take over.

Finally, I reached Berwyn Station, ...

... which has been nicely restored "in every detail" ...

... down to this GWR poster, which was a greeting from yesteryear.

A Llangollen bound train came in, ...

... headed bunker-first by the standard 2-6-4 tank, ...

... which I had seen in the morning two days ago at the Llangollen "engine works", ...

... and which was built in Brighton in 1953.

These pistons and connecting rods, one set on each side,
together have to be able to pull or push trains of at least 200 tons.

On this occasion, the train is actually tailed by number 5199 which we have met previously.

The train is therefore going, not coming!

Here's the chain bridge and part of the hotel.

Here's the road bridge coming off the A5 on the left.

Here's the Chain Bridge end on.

At Berwyn there three bridges:
the rail bridge which does not cross the Dee,
the road bridge which does cross the Dee, and
the foot bridge (Chain Bridge) behind me, which does cross the Dee.

Behind the hotel, on the north side of the Dee,
is the link between the navigable canal (which starts in Llangollen) and the
Horseshoe Falls, where some of the water from the Dee is diverted into the Llangollen Canal.

Tourism is writ large in the Llangollen area,
as these three way/path/trail signs indicate.

The Trevor and Chirk Aqueducts are some way distant along the canal.

Here are the man-made, Telford-engineered, Horseshoe Falls.
They were completed in 1808.


Llantysilio's church was built in the 15th century and dedicated to Saint Tysilio who lived in the 7th century. The church was "restored" by the German-born Charles Beyer in 1867 and he is buried in the churchyard. Charles Beyer (1813-1876) was co-founder of the well-known Beyer, Peacock and Company. He lived in nearby Llantysilio Hall which he rebuilt between 1872-1874. Howzat for a potted history! I found the monuments in the church very interesting. The monuments seem to suggest that, from at least the early 1700s, in this part of Wales, English was regarded as the lingua franca with Welsh taking a back seat. That, and the Latin inscriptions on some of the monuments, must have been quite interesting for the native Welsh speakers of the day.

The 15th century church is dedicated to Saint Tysilio.

Looking towards the altar.

Looking towards the back.

I found the inscription on this monument to be
a nice interesting challenge for my little grey cells.
Below you can see the Latin inscription more clearly
- as well as my humble attempts to make sense of it.
It's just one my strange hobbies. "It takes all sorts", as the saying goes.

I find translating from Latin one of the ways of trying to prevent my brain seizing up with advancing years. Those of you who have expertise in the language are more than welcome to correct my own humble linguistic efforts. Of course, translation is often, as in this case, not a question of substituting exactly one word in the source language by exactly the corresponding word found in a dictionary. Here I have used square brackets to denote what I assume the writer of the original was abbreviating, although "obij" may well be a spelling mistake, and should probably be "obiit". Oh, what linguistic enjoyment, even if the original message in 1722 had an undoubted serious dimension.

As regards the subject of the inscription, we can note the age of the husband's demise - the year was 1722 after all and the average age of death was lower at the time than it is today. Also note the word "Armiger". I would humbly suggest that "Arm" is an abbreviation of "armiger and not "armifer". "Armiger" means "bearer of arms" AND/OR "squire". The latter shows that the title denotes a particular social status (i.e. "squire"), and suggests that the English or Welsh squire was originally a "bearer of arms". We noted what appears to be the same usage on a mediaeval brass in the Wrotham Church of Saint George in Kent, which we visited on our CLOG Walk on 4th September 2016.

A Table of Benefactions
to the Poor of the Parish
of Llantysilio
set up in the year 1753

Mrs Anne Roberts late of Rhydonnen left by will the
interest of 80 to be distributed to the poor on Good
Friday by the heir of Rhydonnen yearly the same
secur'd upon ...

Dear visitor to this web page, I'm sure you get the idea!
I better get on with the rest of this web page!

Now I take a back seat and let you, dear visitor to this web page,
read the inscription!

This monument is interesting for various reasons.

It looks nice artistically (subjective statement), ...

... but what about the inscription?

I remain to be corrected, but this inscription seems
to be inscribed in rather confusing English, even if it is 18th century English!!
Note also that Flintshire was probably quite a distance away in days before good transport.
How did prospective marriage partners meet in those days?

"Here lyeth ye body of Elizabeth ye Wife
of Edward Jones Junior of Bwlch Gent.
& daughter of John Jones of Clomendŷ
in Hope Owen in Flintshire Gent. by
Mary his Wife. Who
[Elizabeth] was interred
March 24th 1761
[it looks like 1761 !] aged 26"

The stained glass above the altar looks Victorian.

The stained glass above the back of the church looks Victorian.

This stained glass looks much more recent.

Here's a last look at Saint Tysilio's church, nestling in the landscape.

Then my route passes Llantysilio Hall. Charles Beyer (1813-1876, and of Beyer Peacock fame) built this hall in the years 18721874. However, he did not live long enough really to enjoy the fruits of his considerable labours during his life. That's how things can happen!

Llantysilio Hall seen from the gate.

Here's the actual gate.

Here's Llantysilio Hall seen from higher ground.

Britannia Inn

North of the village of Llantysilio I branched off the Dee Valley Way, over open country with good view to the south and west. Eventually I reached the Britannia Inn, which despite its name and its strategic position on the A542, is closed during the afternoon. This is not that beneficial to walkers! Anyway, from there I headed south to Velvet Hill.

Climbing up the hill from Llantysilio Farm I get this view to the south west.

Further over, a fire has broken out on the distant slopes of Llantysilio Mountain.
This explains the fire tender I saw.

These fires can be very serious and frightening.
To think that some of our party were on the ridge above that slope on Saturday.
The fire indicates that the heat of the last few days probably made the vegetation tinder dry.

View towards the south west.

View towards the railway.

View towards Castell Dinas Brân.

Another view towards Castell Dinas Brân.

View towards Avon Eglwyseg, near where some of us were on Saturday.

"The Britannia Inn" lies in a strategic position,
strategic because it is all on its own, away from any town or village.
As such it could afford to be closed over the afternoon, which it duly was!

So, there was no beverage here, other than my very own H2O
of which I duly partook, as I relaxed at one of the inn's outside pub tables.

Velvet Hill

There was a reasonable mostly off-road path south of the Britannia Inn. This I took to a point close to Vale Crucis which we had visited on the circular walk from Llangollen to Castell Dinas Brân on the previous Saturday (14th July). From here there was a very steep, but doable, ascent on to Velvet Hill. Velvet Hill, at about 230 metres, was not the highest point on the walk but, as anticipated, offered good all-round views of the hilly landscape - so well worth the climb, and the subsequent steep descent to the Llangollen Canal!

Going on the steep path up Velvet Hill one could look back at Vale Crucis Abbey,
which some on us visited on Saturday.

Vale Crucis Abbey nestles "romantically" in the rolling green landscape.
Henry VIII destroyed the Abbey, and to really screw up the rural ambience right regally,
a new-age caravan site was established next door.

On the top of Velvet Hill, a "kind soul" took a picture of yours truly in the landscape.
Castell Dinas Brân is behind me.

Here is the same landscape without yours truly but with Castell Dinas Brân

From Velvet Hill there is a good view of Castell Dinas Brân and Llangollen.

Here is Vale Crucis Abbey
surrounded by the vehicular flotsam and jetsam of the 21st century.

On the descent from Velvet Hill there is still a good view
of Castell Dinas Brân and Llangollen (with the white Eisteddfod pavilion).

Goodbye Velvet Hill!

Llangollen Canal

My walk today was a "figure of eight", with Berwyn at the centre crossing point. So, after Velvet Hill I joined the Llangollen Canal at Berwyn. I had a level walk along the canal back to Llangollen. On the way I passed the Llangollen Motor Museum, which always seems to be closed, and the Eisteddfod Pavilion, which was also closed! However, the walk along the canal was a relaxing way to finish the day.

Here are two of the three bridges at Berwyn,
seen with summer flowers from the hotel terrace.

This is the "ghost stretch" of the Llangollen Canal between the Horseshoe Falls and the no entry sign to the left of Llangollen's "canal boat basin". "Ghost"? Well, no boats allowed by order.

People seem to say that the "Llangollen Motor Museum" always seems to be closed.
It was so today, and I was left with being able to see the colourful sign, which was at least something! I believe the museum is housed in a former canal-side goods shed. The foliage and the corrugated tin roof lend a certain rustic air to the establishment!

The Eisteddfod Pavilion was also closed, but then,
we arrived a week after the 2018 International Eisteddfod.

Here is the Llangollen "boat basin", the western limit of navigation on the Llangollen Canal

The "tea shop" was probably Llangollen's loading and unloading point
for canal boats - certainly judging by the crane.

This boat takes tourists between Llangollen and the Trevor and Chirk viaducts.


On my last evening I visited the "Bridge End Hotel", which we had visited on Monday. However, today my dining experience was definitely - and unfortunately - of lesser quality. Afterwards, I walked off the sad repast - or what I ate of it - by strolling around Llangollen before retiring for the night - my last night in July 2018 in Wales!

After my sad repast, I took a last stroll around Llangollen, and noted that the scaffolding on Saint Collen's Church was being dismantled. And so ended my last evening in Llangollen in July 2018.
The visit was a nice interplay of socializing, hill walks and cultural visits!