Driving down towards Ruthin a few weeks ago, en-route to our short break in south Snowdonia, the road cut through a pass in the Clwydian range of hills. An AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Although I’ve driven through these attractive hills many times in the past, I’ve never explored them , and we decided that after our holiday we’d have to put that right. So on Saturday we drove over to North Wales to go for a walk up to the highest of the hills – Moel Famau.
Checking out the AONB website we decided to follow the circular route starting from Loggerheads Country Park, which is a few miles south of Mold and only just over an hour’s drive from home (traffic on the M6, M56 and A55 willing!)
The weather was a little mixed. It was overcast with some short lived rain showers and the occasional period of sunshine. But overall not a bad day for walking. The light was very flat, however, so not so good for photography.
We parked up in the country park and had a quick brew in the excellent café. It was busy with a group of cyclists, indulging in what looked like a very tasty cooked breakfast.
Refreshed, we set off, initially along a quiet country road
but we were soon on a footpath through the fields – a glimpse of our objective above the trees.
Our route took us through a forest – initially along a narrow path amongst the vegetation
After a climb up through the forest we came out onto open moorland with our objective ahead.
A short, steep final climb and we reached the summit, crowned with the Jubilee Tower – a ruined monument built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of George III.
As the highest point for some distance there were excellent extensive views over the Clywdian hills, over to the coast, across to Liverpool and beyond with the mountains of Snowdonia on the horizon to the south.
Looking over the Clwydian range
Down towards Ruthin
looking over Moel-y-Gaer Llanbedr, one of several of the iron age hill forts which are dotted along the Clwydian Range.
Although the Snowdon range of mountains was obscured by cloud, looking south we could make out Cadair Idris, which we’d climbed only a few weeks before.
After spending some time taking in the views and finishing off our sandwiches, we started our descent down a steep path to the west that cut sown through heather covered moor land with views over the Clwydian hills
After a short while we reached a bridle path which we followed back down towards Loggerheads.
Looking back to the summit of Moel Famau
It was a gradual descent over relatively easy ground (with a short boggy stretch)
with views over pleasant countryside
At the bottom of the hill, after walking along a short stretch of a quiet lane we took a footpath through a field, across a bridge over the River Alyn and up a slope, reaching the Leete path which would take us back to our starting point.
The path follows the former course of an artificial watercourse which drew water from the River Alyn near the mill at Loggerheads and carried it three miles to Rhydymwyn along a much shallower gradient than the river itself, meaning that for most of it’s length the Leete was well above the river bed. The water was needed to drive water wheels used to pump excess water from the lead mines that lined the valley, providing a reliable water supply particularly during the in summer, when the river itself vanishes into swallowholes in the limestone riverbed.
We passed several former mine entrances as we walked along the path
eventually reaching the Country Park
We passed a wheel pit which had originally housed a waterwheel used to drain water from one of the mines
Eventually we reached the Florence café and “tea gardens”. It was a pleasant afternoon so we enjoyed a pot of excellent tea sitting outdoors before returning to the car for the drive home.