I had hoped to be on the higher hills on Friday but with wind speeds up to Force 8 (40mph), I decided for a more leisurely stroll on the hills surrounding Llangollen, which are well worth a visit if you have not been before.
I parked in the long stay car park in the centre of town and made my way up to Dinas Bran (Castle of the Crows), which is an ancient hill fort and prominent landmark just to the north of Llangollen. The original iron age hill fort dates back to 600BC and was constructed with an earth rampart and wooden palisades to protect a village of round houses. Unfortunately, records suggest that the original structure caught fire and it was replaced with a new castle. The remains of the castle visible today date back to 1260 and was built by a local Welsh ruler Prince Gruffydd ap Madog. However, the castle had a short working live and was abandoned in 1282.
The walk up to Dinas Bran is on good tracks and I was soon on the top seeking shelter from the wind, which just seemed to buffet me in all directions so I decided to make the short descent to the minor road to the north of Dinas Bran.
Once at the minor road, it seemed appropriate to make my way to Trevor Rocks, which are now a popular climbing venue, with a mixture of bolted and traditional routes for all abilities. Trevor Rocks is an old limestone quarry that was used up until the late 1800’s. If you look carefully, you can find small patches of fossilised coral, which suggests that the area was was covered by shallow and warm sea 300 million years ago.
From Trevor rocks, I made my way over to the locally named graffiti crag, which is a popular bouldering venue before making my way down to Trevor Uchaf Quarries. Like Trevor Rocks limestone was quarried here and for those who wish to explore you can find a number of disused lime kilns which were used to make both agricultural and industrial lime for iron production. The kilns were operational from 1830 and were closed in the early 1900’s when lime production went into decline
From the quarry, I passed by the Sun Trevor pub and crossed the A539 to join the Llangollen Canal, which I would follow back into town. The Llangollen Canal runs was opened in 1808 and runs from the River Dee at the Horseshoe Falls to the Froncysytle Aqueduct, which incidentally were both built by Thomas Telford.
Plans drawn up as early as 1791 show that the canal was to be part of a much bigger network to link the River Dee at Chester with the River Severn at Shrewsbury but due to escalating construction costs the plans had be to be scaled back and much of the network was not built. Fortunately, the Llangollen Canal was built as a much needed feeder for the Ellesmere Canal System and to transport limestone from the local quarries for the production of fertiliser. In more recent years the canal has provided water for Hurleston Reservoir and today is one of the busiest pleasure waterways on the network.
The walk along the towpath is extremely pleasant and sports a variety of flora and fauna. It is also a good location to find a few bushcraft goodies such as the Daldinia Concentrica (cramp balls) which is a great tinder fungus.
I had a great walk and with an enquiring mind found a walk stepped in history that I had not discovered before. This just goes to show what we can discover when we truly walk with our eyes open.