Part 3: Hiking in Wales

So there was one hike that I forgot to mention in my brief series of Hikes in Wales. On our very first night, we drove out to the Welsh town Llangollen (pronounced Clan-gloughlin). The town is next to a river near green soaring hills. There are canals where you can actually be towed by a horse.

We stayed at a little bed and breakfast where our hosts gave us tea and banana bread as a welcome. It was exactly what we wanted without us even knowing it was. While we feasted, we met these Australian hikers in their 50s and 60s who were doing a 100 mile (or maybe kilometer) hike through England. They’d hike several miles per day, moving from town to town along this path (not Hadrian’s wall but something like it.) That day was a  rest day so they were going to just explore the town. They were good folks.

We decided that we were going to go up to Castell Dinas Brin just before the sunset. The Australians applauded this and told us it would be about a 10 minute hike. Well, it took ups about 30-45 minutes.The Austrialians and the locals were much more savvy hikers than us. But it was a stunning hike. To get to the foot of the hill, we found the path between farm fields with sheep grazing in them. At one point, we did wander through a field with sheep munching away at the grass. They all had greenish/blue markings on their wool, presumably so farmers would distinguish their flock from others. They moved slowly away from us.

We got to the base of the hill and took the slightly winding path. It was a bit steep but nothing too hard for us. At the top, we were breathless, both from the hike and the view. We could see for miles of Dee Valley, full of the red and green hills, brilliant green fields, dark forests and the small towns of Wales. We could see all of Llangollen with its river and railroads. In one direction, it seemed misty as if a fog was moving in (and it was!). There were livestock all over the place and we could occasionally hear a “Moo” or “Baa” from cows and sheep.
The Dee Valley Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

The Dee Valley
Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

At the top of Castell Dinas Brin, there was actually the ruins of hillfort. According to one source, Dinas Brin means “Crow Castle.” There were just a few walls of rough rock jutting up. It kinda of looked like a mouth with missing teeth from below. The guidebook made the snarky comment that these weren’t the trip but the view was. We disagree; it was totally worth it. I think I finally understood the Romantics obsession with ruins.

Castel Dinas Brin Elisa Shoenberger (C) 2013

Castel Dinas Brin
Elisa Shoenberger (C) 2013

According to the Clwyd-Powys Archeological Trust, “The castle was built towards the later part of the 13th century by the princes of Powys Fadog and was the site of a meeting between the sons of Gryffydd Maelor in 1270 when they granted the lands of Maelor Saesneg for the upkeep of their mother, Emma Audley. During the wars between Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales and Edward I of England the castle was burnt by the Welsh before it was captured in 1277 by Henry de Lacy, earl of Lincoln. It was not repaired and ceased to be used after the 1280s.”
On the way down, we met some folks who were walking with their dog. It was pretty apparent that this was a daily activity of hiking up Dinas Brin everyday. It’s very impressive how easily they did it.
I hope that we’ll make it back to Llangollen one of these days. It seemed like a lovely town and I’d love to attend the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
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