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August 2002


17 August

My first day out with Charles in ages, largely due to difficulties in both of us having the same Saturday free. We had a planning session in the Staff Club – assisted by my boot box full of maps – and in the end I gave him the choice of where to go. I even offered to do back o’ Skidda or Mungrisedale Common (greater love hath no man than that) just to help him with his Wainwrights. However he hadn’t done a walk since April and he picked up one of my suggestions. Moel y Gamelin, the highest hill in north-east Wales, near Llangollen. This proved to be a really good choice.

We parked over the river Dee from the Berwyn station on the steam railway. This was a good car park; free and with toilets that were open when we got there at 9am. There is a display board with short walks, mainly involved the route to Valle Crucis Abbey. We set off in that direction but the plan was to go over the top of Moel Hyrddyn rather than around the side. This was thwarted initially by a non-existant footpath but walking the side route for a while we then found a way up to the top. This is not a high hill but it is a good vantage point for the area and we could pick out most of our route for the day.

We walked along the top the path which skirts around the northern shoulder of the hill. However the westwards line was obstructed so that we had to go east and take the lane around it. We then had trouble finding the path of that. According to the map it went through a garden but it turned out to have been diverted (legally I suspect because there was a waymark, albeit obscured by the garden hedge) down the side.

This problem with the paths persisted for quite some time. We did find our way through but often with a lack of assurance that we were on the right line and in places it involved hacking through undergrowth. However when we did emerge we had wonderful views over the Dee valley. Charles was very taken with it all. I can still remember the first time I came here; it was a Worcester Ramblers coach trip (Aran Mountains 1977?) and I was stunned by just how lovely it was. It’s such a shame that it becomes so manky down on the Dee estuary.

Our route was taking us up the valley and we were gradually picking up height (with the occasional down section) as we went along via Llandynan and Rhewl. There is a lovely lane at Llandynan. It is narrow with houses packed in on both sides. But there are gaps providing view points and you emerge in a field with a pleasant path across.

The serious climbing started at Rhewl. There was a steep pull up by the chapel. Then a long level section to Cae Llewellyn farm and then more climbing up on to the open moorland. The heather and the gorse were in bloom so it was awash with colour. We were heading for the west side of Moel Morfydd. Once we picked up the col there was a savage pull up with 90m climb to the summit. We stopped and ate here but sadly the haze had thickened and this diminished the view. Arenig Fawr was just about visible but very faint. 

We were now on the main ridge but that was some of a switchback. The final climb to Moel y Gamelin is 150m which just about qualifies it as a Marilyn in itself without all the lower climb. This was a good spot to rest and reflect on the walk. I revised my route plan there. The map had shown the best line of descent to be a little track; however this wasn’t a public footpath and I had planned to keep to them even though they weren’t particularly straight. On the scene I could tell that the trail was likely to be far more visible and opted for it. It descended at a sensible gradient and in a reasonably straight line past the first set of slate quarries to an area of quarry refuse. The map shows a path descending to the left of the stream but there was a clearer path to the right. There was high bracket all round but it kept going. When the path was blocked by a wood, we found another trail marked on the bearing around it anticlockwise and we took that to the Britannia Inn on the Horseshoe Pass road.

Our first disappontment; it was closed. Another quick rejig. Instead of crossing to the path on the far side of the Eglwyseg river, we went down the road to the Abbey Grange Hotel which was open and they were selling Brakespeare’s bitter. I’d not had any since I left Reading 15 years ago. We had a pleasant interlude in the sunshine in the hotel garden. They were even good enough to provide iced tap water free of charge; I needed some so I could taste the beer.

We walked on briefly down the road past Eliseg’s Pillar and then crossed to the far side of the river and walked back along it (pausing to inspect the abbey) to the main road. We could then access the towpath of the Llangollen canal; this path sits right by the Dee but high above it. We followed this for half a mile or so back to the Chain Bridge where we climbed out to the car park.

Map                Photos

17 August

A Sunday walk with the Ramblers around Albrighton. I'm not too sure about the outward route; it was very flat and we went via Kingswood Common to Pattingham. It kept getting warmer and it was lovely for the lunch stop at Pattingham ie an excuse to stretch out and try to go to sleep. I was certainly the last to leave, knowing that there would be a queue to get over the style so I'd catch up.

They have done some walks around the village for the MIllennium and this has included new concessionary paths. We started walking back on these. The sun was very hot but I was getting quicker too (I'd been very dozey and at the back for most of the morning)

See also out Italian holiday photos


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