"Short distance - Big history" Clwyd by Elena77

Clwyd Travel Guide: 224 reviews and 706 photos

Land of Fortresses

The borderlands of North/ East Wales have always been a frontier zone. Lying between the Cheshire Plain to the East and Snowdonia to the West, between lowlands and high mountains, they are cut through by natural barriers - like the Clwydian Hills and the rivers Dee, Clwyd and Conwy - which any army marching from England to the Welsh heartlands must cross. Throughout many centuries, therefore, the borderlands have been successively fought over by Britons and Romans, by rival native rulers of Gwynedd and Powys, by Anglo-Saxons and Welshmen, by the forces of Norman barons, Welsh princes and English monarchs, and later by the Civil War armies of King and Parliament. Thus for more than 2000 years the Welsh borderlands were a region of fortresses and castles, often sited to reinforce existing natural strongpoints. The ramparts of ancient hillforts were sometimes re-used by subsequent fortress builders, including the Anglo - Saxon kings of Mercia who during the 700s raised great frontier dykes as defences against the Welsh. Offa's Dyke, which extended from Llanfynydd North of Wrexham to Chepstow on the Bristol Channel, can still be traced in the Clwyd region, most dramatically around Chirk Castle and near Bersham. So too can the region's own Wat's Dyke, less well-known but equally well worth exploring. Nearly all its 38 mile course from Holywell on the coast to South of Oswestry lies within the borderlands, with particularly fine stretches between Wrexham and Ruabon, around Erddig.

Mountains and Passes

The Horseshoe Pass (Bwlch yr Oernant) is a mountain pass leading you on steep wooded slopes from Llandegla to Llangollen (or vice versa :)). The road travels in a horseshoe shape around the sides of a valley giving the pass its name; this route dates from 1811 when a turnpike road was constructed across the area. The road is frequently closed in Winter due to heavy snowfall or landslides.
Wild Wales begins in the Berwyn Mountains. The highest peaks of this mountain range are: Moel Sych, Foel Wen, Bryn Du and Moel Fferna. The Berwyn Mountains also played their part in causing King Henry II to turn back during his invasion of Gwynedd in 1165. Rather than taking the usual route along the Northern coastal plain, his army invaded from Oswestry and took a route over the Berwyns. The invasion faced an alliance of Welsh princes, but there was no fighting - endless days of heavy rain forced the army to retreat.

Our Clwyd experiences

Clwyd was the 1st piece of Wales that we got to see and it greeted us with some really bad weather, it was rainy, foggy, windy and cold. All of this did not keep us from exploring the area, of course. We climbed up the steep path to Dinas Brân Castle even before we brought our suitcases to the B&B. :) We also visited Llangollen and Valle Crucis Abbey that day. And the moodiness of Welsh weather proved already the next morning: when we awoke we found a bright, sunny day and a cloudless sky! We left the B&B early to set out for the Isle of Anglesey. And on our way there we've explored the beautiful Clwyd towns of Ruthin (& castle), Denbigh (& castle), Rhuddlan (& castle) and Rhyl.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Beautiful landscape, great castles, lovely people, ...
  • Cons:Moody weather
  • In a nutshell:Exercise your minds as well as your legs! ;)
  • Last visit to Clwyd: Apr 2007
  • Intro Updated Oct 17, 2007
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