Sun 11th Apr, 2010
Llantysilio Mountain Traverse
Members: Mark Garrod, Michelle Harvey, Iain McCallum, Christine Beeston, Dave Wylie, Bob Kelly, Sandy Gregson, Jim Gregson.
Guests: Laura Collier, Julia Partington, Katie Harvey, Julien Bodard, Ding Koy.
The day was beautiful, to match the area so it was an enjoyable eye-opener for those who had never walked in the Llangollen hills before. After an abrupt start we went smoothly over Velvet Hill, peering down on Valle Crucis Abbey (now sadly closely neighboured by a hideous caravan park) then up the road past the Britannia for a bit of collar work to get back onto the hills. A suitable pause allowed the heat to dissipate then on in leisurely fashion to intersect the Horseshoe Pass at Cwm Oernant before crossing over to contour into the Ponderosa for morning coffee. All of our rucksacks did not cut quite so much of a dash as the ranks of gleaming motor cycle machinery worth many thousands of pounds but we had the moral high ground of having walked there.
Another leisurely stop for lunch was made before a saunter along the Llantysilio Mountain ridge took us west with sundry ups and downs, enjoying a superb panorama of nearly all of North Wales' high mountains (only Cadair Idris refused to show) with a few snow remnants on the Carneddau. Those new to the area were suitably impressed with this outlook. Just after Moel Morfydd we dropped off the ridge to follow an intricate route through varied rural surroundings to eventually approach the banks of the River Dee in very warm sunshine. Yet another halt was called by Horseshoe Falls, and within minutes those in the party who were obviously Charles Kingsley fans (Literary allusion for the well-read) were stripping off and desporting themselves in the gently flowing waters of the river. It would be true to say that all these were naiads (mythological allusion for the very well-read) as the male contingent of the party confined themselves to a spectating-only role.
When the ladies were sated of water we decamped the short distance to the car park at the end of a very pleasant day's walk, leaving Dave to go urgently in search of diesel in the fleshpots of Llangollen. [NOTE: There is currently NO FUEL to be had in Llangollen! WebMaster.] The meet was well-supported so thank you to all who came for splendid company.
Best Map: OS Explorer 256
By the time this date arrives I will only be back home for a few days from a month in the white winter wilds of Norway and looking forward to some greenery, so try joining me to spring into Spring on the hills NW of Llangollen for a fine walk.
Meeting Point (car park and start): Grid Ref SJ198434. This is the slightly hidden car park for Horseshoe Falls, easily reached by leaving Wrexham bypass onto A539 at Ruabon. Continue to Llangollen, straight on past station on A542 for 2km, take first L onto minor road and follow for 3/4km to a fork. If you go L there is an entry to the carpark amongst trees. If you go R then in less than 100m there is a more obvious entry.
Meet 0915 for prompt start at 0930. (Driving time from Sale is approx. 1hr 15mins- adjust for own start location - take M56/Chester bypass/Wrexham bypass to Ruabon).
From car park, NNE up and over lovely little hill of Coed Hyrddyn till you meet fence above Abbey Grange Hotel - nice bird's-eye views of Valle Crucis Abbey. Cut back sharp R at fence and follow to rejoin road A542 by phone box. N up road, climbing to Britannia Inn. Just past pub enter field L, then head NW between plantations. Ignore right of way line on map (not obvious on ground), cross stream near L side plantation then climb on intermittent tracks towards some old quarry tips - may be a bit of bracken-bashing. Beyond tips contour more to W to rejoin A542 just before biggest bends of Horseshoe Pass at GR SJ186467. Cross road, drop into head of Oernant cwm then climb out NE just above trees to rejoin road. Tracks lead off vaguely NE then N to go over end of moor to Ponderosa Café - optional tea and toilet stop (motor cycle leathers not compulsory).
Leave Ponderosa GR SJ194482 to climb up onto ridge of Moel y Faen, then SW to Moel y Gamelin, W to Moel y Gaer (hill fort) and so up to trig point at Moel Morfydd. (All this section forms Llantysilio Mountain). Drop off Morfydd to W for only 400m then turn sharp L, head SE through heather, all obvious track and work into grass saddle at GR SJ164451. Turn L, go due E for just over 1km, join minor tarmac road, which is followed to a hairpin bend. Exactly at the apex, take track by stream N, then R and L onto farm track. By corner of wood find winding path up to farm at GR SJ175454 (long Welsh name). Turn R then head E past pheasant-rearing area then surfaced track downhill to hamlet of Rhewl. Just past buildings climb into field on L on right of way track to Llandynan. Follow minor road for 1km to church on R at GR SJ195436. Take track by church to drop down to the Dee, proceed to Horseshoe Falls (optional swim!) then to rear of hotel and back up to car park to finish.
Very varied, with some intricate route finding, hence extra info as above. Distance: only 16 or 17km but a fair bit of up and down. NO DOGS please - sensitive Welsh area. I hope some of you will be tempted to try it.