It is a positive feature of CLOG away breaks that there are generally a number of parallel activities. This accords with the tried and tested CLOG philosophy of "multi-activity away breaks". So, on our away break in Llangollen, while our walks were an important focus, our agenda also included some sightseeing activities to provide that cultural dimension. Indeed, some of our walks also had a sightseeing element built in. Our weather was mainly warm and sunny. However, the temperature, while pre-heatwave (heatwave to come in a week's time), favoured shorter low-level walks and the sightseeing element.
On our circular walk on Saturday from Llangollen, we enjoyed the shade of the woods on the Clwydian Way before we reached the Offa's Dyke Path and Castell Dinas Brân.
There were twenty-nine in our away break party and there was plenty of variety on offer. Indeed, it is likely that there were yet more parallel activities, but you see here the activities of which I am immediately aware. They give a flavour of what we did. The links to more detailed descriptions are for the activities in which I was directly involved - leading or participating.
Here is Plas Newydd, 18th century home of the Llangollen Ladies.
Castell Dinas Brân towers in the background to about 320 m.
Early birds had the chance to look around Llangollen to start to get an appreciation of the many things that this home of the annual Welsh (well, now international) Eisteddfod has to offer. In the evening, we took advantage of the choice presented by the numerous hostelries and "eateries" dotted around Llangollen.
- Plas Newydd and Llangollen Railway (sightseeing).
Having arrived early in Llangollen, I spoke to the staff at the hostel who suggested that I could pay the Ladies of Llangollen a visit - after all, it was only ¼ mile up the hill. This turned out to be a very interesting dip into 18th century history and far better than sitting around twiddling my thumbs! A quick look at Llangollen Station, present terminus of the heritage steam railway, rounded up the "sightseeing" bit of the day.
- Our First Evening in Llangollen (dining). A few of us managed to get a table at the ever popular and excellent "Corn Mill" restaurant on the banks of the Dee. Some others "decamped" to "The Hand" restaurant - slightly away from the main street but also on the banks of the Dee - for their first evening meal of our CLOG away break. Yet others sought other Llangollen hostelries to me unknown!
Here are some of us on the Offa's Dyke Path through the scree,
which was created by weathering through the ages.
On Saturday, we had the option of at least three walks and some sightseeing. Two of the walks used the Llangollen Steam Railway to reach their respective starting points further west along the Dee Valley. The walks varied in length and height to give participants a choice in the warm weather. In the evening we again had the "agony of choice" which the many hostelries and eateries in Llangollen presented to us.
- Group Pictures. Before we set off on our respective walks and activities, we thought that a group picture in front of our hostel might be nice. Because, as we know, a group of Cloggies being photographed is a dynamic entity, I have produced three separate pictures.
- Llangollen Circular via Castell Dinas Brân (walking). The weather was quite warm and humid today, so a "shortish" 10 to 11-mile walk, espousing the lower ground, seemed a good ploy. This was appreciated by participants. We started along the Llangollen Canal, turning off onto the Clwydian Way near the Motor Museum. The wooded Clwydian Way took us past Vale Crucis which was interesting to visit. We eventually came on to the more exposed Offa's Dyke path, from which we reached Castell Dinas Brân, which towers over Llangollen, and at 320 m, was the highest point on our walk. For his sins, Eric was the nominal walk leader!
- Corwen Station to Llangollen on Dee Valley Way (walking). The 13½ mile stretch of the Dee Valley Way from Corwen to Llangollen has a lot of scenic turns and twists but proved a tad gruelling for some, given the warm weather. At the start of the walk, detours were made (1) to the historic centre of Corwen with its statue of Owain Glendŵr and then (2) to Caer Drewyn (294 m), regarded as one of the best-preserved Iron Age hillforts in Wales. John's walks would not be John's walks without a visit to a watering hole or two, so the ever popular "Grouse Inn" at Carrog duly featured in the schedule. The walk also gave participants the chance in the morning to ride to Corwen on the present full length of the Llangollen Steam Heritage Railway. As just implied above, John E. did the honours by leading this walk.
- Carrog Station to Llangollen. (walking). This walk started along the Clwydian Way and led to Moel Morfydd (550m) (excellent 360° views) and Moel y Gaer. However, the combination of the warm humid weather and the exposed conditions on the tops of the mountains was not everyone's "cup of tea". So, from Moel y Gaer the party descended to Rhewl, returning from there via the Horseshoe Falls and the Llangollen Canal to down-town Llangollen.
- Plas Newydd and Horseshoe Falls (sightseeing). Jan and Melissa were of a more leisurely persuasion, and having listened to my description of Plas Newydd, felt that staying local, with a visit to the "Ladies of Llangollen" (who made Plas Newydd their home), would be the focus of their morning activities. In the afternoon, they strolled along the Llangollen Canal to the Horseshoe Falls which were constructed by Telford to provide water for the Canal.
- Our Saturday Evening in Llangollen (dining). In the evening some of us managed to get an early table at the ever popular "Corn Mill", but quite a few of us dined "late evening" in the "Cottage Tearooms & Bistro" in the main street.
Here are some of us enjoying a high-level walk along the Chirk Aqueduct
high above the valley of the River Ceiriog.
On Sunday, we had at least one main walk (two versions) and some interesting sightseeing. In the evening we enjoyed our communal evening meal at the hostel.
- Llangollen Circular via Trevor Aqueduct (Walk 1) (walking). The outward part of this walk went via Castell Dinas Brân, the Trevor Rocks and the Panorama Path to Trevor and Telford's famous 18th century Pont Cysyllte aqueduct. The return to Llangollen was along the 4½ mile stretch of the Llangollen Canal, via the "Sun Trevor Inn" at which a stop for suitable beverages was duly made. This walk was skilfully led by John E..
- Llangollen Circular via Trevor Aqueduct (Walk 2) (walking). This walk went via Castell Dinas Brân and then took the towing path of the Llangollen Canal to reach Trevor and Telford's famous 18th century Pont Cysyllte aqueduct. After lunching at the Trevor Canal Basin and visiting the nearby "Telford Inn", it was time to catch the bus back to Llangollen. This walk was ably led by Sue.
- Chirk Castle and Aqueducts (sightseeing).
This had been the destination of one of my planned walks, but I did not anticipate many takers, especially in the hot weather. Melissa and Jan's suggestion to motor across to Chirk Castle (National Trust) seemed therefore an opportunity too good to miss. Chirk Castle dates back to 1295 and was the home of the Myddleton (no connection with Kate) family until 2004 (apart from WW1 to shortly after WW2). The Castle and its grounds thus provided for us a splendid and educative morning dip into British history. There was also the attraction, in the afternoon, of visiting Telford's famous 18th century feats of civil engineering, namely the aqueducts in Chirk and in Trevor (Pont Cysyllte) and the canal tunnel in Chirk.
- Our Sunday Evening Communal In-house Meal (dining). Adrian and assistants did themselves proud by creating quite a healthy "DIY" dinner at the hostel. One could see that Adrian was well versed in the culinary arts (from both gastronomical and organizational aspects), and we all enjoyed his "creations".
As we descend into Glyndyfrdwy we take in the scenery towards Llantysilio Mountain.
The clouds and mist are building up, but we get to Glyndyfrdwy, in the valley below, before the rain.
On our last full day, we had the option of at least two walks as well as some sightseeing. In the evening we enjoyed our communal evening meal at the Bridge End Inn.
- Llangollen - Vivod Mountain (550m) - Glyndyfrdwy
The weather was cooler than on previous days, so a high-level walk was entertained. Indeed, I had promised Adrian that I would lead another walk (instead of visiting Erddig Hall). Our Monday walk started conveniently in Llangollen and followed the North Berwyn Way (which actually was south of Berwyn) via Vivod Mountain (550 m) as far as Ceiriog Forest - which was seemingly full of Christmas Trees of all shapes and sizes! As we got to the Forest, it started to cloud over with rain anticipated, so we took the metalled logging road to Glyndyfrdwy in the Dee Valley. We had a good time. After a nice walk and plenty of exercise, we reached Glyndyfrdwy Station just before the rain came, and then enjoyed a ride on the heritage steam railway "into the bargain"!
- Berwyn Quarries and Avon Eglwyseg. (walking). This circular walk, from Llangollen, took the Dee Valley Way via the Horseshoe Falls and then branched off to the Berwyn Limestone Quarries. Near the Quarries, the party enjoyed good views towards Colwyn Bay on the North Wales Coast. The return to Llangollen was via the Avon Eglwyseg and the Valle Crucis Abbey (unfortunately too late for the party to visit).
- Erddig Hall (sightseeing). Eight of us took the more leisurely option on the last full day, by motoring out to Erddig, a fine National Trust Property near Wrexham. Indeed, Erddig Hall is regarded as one of the finest National Trust houses in Wales. The house was originally built between 1684–1687 and is noted for its collections and its fully restored 18th century gardens.
- Llangollen Motor Museum (sightseeing). Dan led this visit to the Llangollen Motor Museum. This museum (established in 1986) is situated in an old canal warehouse on the Llangollen Canal between Llangollen and the Horseshoe Falls, so was easy to reach on foot from Llangollen. The museum houses more than 60 cars and motorcycles. The makes of cars include a Ford Model T, Austin and Citroen. Many of the motorcycles have famous brand names such as Norton, Triumph and B.S.A.. An interesting time was had by all in Dan's party.
- Last Evening Dinner
This was our last (Tempus irreparabile fugit!) communal meal. It was held at the "Bridge End Hotel", situated appropriately at the north end of Llangollen Bridge. Dan and Adrian made the arrangements, and at the event we were able to thank them in the usual way for organizing our trip.
On the way to Trevor Rocks and the Panorama Path,
we can look back to Castell Dinas Brân where we have walked.
Staying on a while had its rewards. There was so much to see and do in and about Llangollen, that it seemed a pity to rush back home immediately. Here you see the results. Essentially, there were two more walks sandwiching a dose of sightseeing in Corwen. All most enjoyable!
- Llangollen Circular - Castel Dinas Brân - Trevor Aqueduct (July 17) (walking). I stayed on and arranged a morning visit to the motive steam power department of the Llangollen Railway. In the afternoon I did a 10¼ mile circular walk from Llangollen, taking in Castel Dinas Brân (my second visit), Trevor Rocks, the Panorama Path, Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct (second visit, but this time on foot) and the Llangollen Canal (4½ miles) back to Llangollen. I got new impressions and had some good afternoon exercise.
- Corwen (July 18) (sightseeing). This was a day of relaxation, when I enjoyed the scenery of the Dee Valley on rides (with a day ticket) up and down the Llangollen Steam Railway. I had a look around Corwen with its connection with Owain Glyndŵr, who proclaimed himself Prince of Wales in 1400 and fought for 14 years against the English. The 13th century Church of St Mael and St Sulien was also interesting. There was also time for a short (1 mile) walk up to the viewpoint (the Pen-y-Pigyn monument) on the hillside south of Corwen.
- Velvet Hill (230 m) (July 19) (walking). This was an 8½ mile circular walk from Llangollen. From just south of Geraint Hill, I reached Berwyn Station and the recently restored "Chain Bridge". Going via the Horseshoe Falls, I took the Dee Valley Way via the 15th century Llantysilio Church. Then it was over the hillside (good views) to reach the Britannia Inn. From there I headed south over Velvet Hill (230 m) from which there were excellent views all round. Then it was down to the Llangollen Canal and so back to Llangollen.
- Goodbye (July 20). Before I left I had a last look around and took a few more pictures. The connection to Euston was good. First the number 5 bus to Ruabon to connect with the Holyhead train via Chester. From - and starting in - Chester there was a direct train to Euston, which was ready waiting. It was a good conclusion to some good days away.
So, as you can see, there was plenty to do! We generally had quite good weather and there was never a dull moment. We all had a good time! That's how we like CLOG away breaks!
Saturday, Sunday, Monday : July 14,15,16