50 Walks in Snowdonia

A circuit from Berwyn

Try this sample walk from the latest edition of 50 Walks in Snowdonia.

About 50 Walks in Snowdonia

Walking is one of Britain's favourite leisure activities, and this guide to Snowdonia features 50 mapped walks from 2 to 10 miles, to suit all abilities.

The book features all the practical detail you need, including:

  • fascinating background reading on the history and wildlife of the area,
  • clear OS-based mapping for ease of use,
  • every route has been colour coded according to difficulty,
  • annotations for local points of interest and places to stop for refreshments,
  • summary of distance, time, gradient, level of difficulty, type of surface and access, landscape, dog friendliness, parking and public toilets.

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Sample walk: A circuit from Berwyn

  • Distance: 3.5 miles (5.6km)
  • Minimum Time: 2hrs
  • Ascent: 902 feet (275m)
  • Gradient: 2
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Paths: Field paths in valley and on hillside, many stiles
  • Landscape: Rolling hillsides, woodland and riverside pastures
  • Suggested Map: OS Explorer 255 Llangollen & Berwyn
  • Start Grid Reference: SJ198433
  • Dog Friendliness: Farm pastures – dogs should be on lead
  • Parking: Picnic site and pay car park at Llantysilio Green on minor road north of Berwyn Station
  • Public Toilet: At car park
Background reading

At the picnic site at Llantysilio Green, just outside Llangollen, there's an idyllic spot where the Dee, enshrouded by trees, squeezes its way between the beautifully named Velvet Hill and the wooded hillside of Bryniau-mawr Bank. Yet the moment you leave the site and descend to the banks of the Dee you realise you're not quite in the countryside yet. Through those trees you can see the back of the Chain Bridge Hotel, the paraphernalia of the rejuvenated Llangollen Railway at Berwyn Station, and the Llangollen Canal. The Horseshoe Falls The canal ends after a short distance and you cross the meadows by the banks of the Dee. Just upstream are the Horseshoe Falls. Though they're an impressive and maybe graceful piece of engineering, many visitors feel a bit let down that the falls are just a weir and not nature's own creation. Set on a natural curve of the river, the weir was Thomas Telford's solution to harnessing the waters of the Dee to feed and control the levels of the Llangollen and Ellesmere canals. Beyond the falls the walk climbs to Llantysilio's little church, which has its origins in the 7th century, though much of the structure was added between the 18th and 19th centuries. There's a plaque in memory of poet Robert Browning, who worshipped here in 1886 with his friends, the Martins of Bryntysilio Hall. At the time he was staying at The Royal Hotel in Llangollen. A tractor track takes you above the tree tops, then a sheep track leads you along the hillside of Pen-y-bryn, with views of both the Dee and its tributary the Eglwyseg opening up before you. A recent disaster A section of remade path beyond a quarry incline gives you a hint of something from the recent past. November 2000 saw violent storms all over Wales. This hillside was subjected to a massive landslide following days of torrential rain. Eyewitnesses reported that an 8ft-(2.4m) high torrent of mud came tumbling down the hill. It carved up the main Horseshoe Pass road, causing a blockage that would last many months, and engulfed the Britannia Inn, leaving the landlord with a £200,000 repair bill. Hill with a view On Velvet Hill you should see wondrous landscapes in a hundred shades of green. The Dee, now far below, meanders in crazy horseshoes. It's joined by the Afon Eglwyseg which flows beneath the gleaming terraces of limestone that shares its name. In the valley bottom beneath the crags, the Cistercian abbey of Valle Crucis seems diminutive in this big scene, as does the romantic castle-topped hill of Dinas Bran. It seems a shame to ever come down.

  1. From the car park walk down to the lower road, turn right for a few paces, then descend some steps to the back of the Chain Bridge Hotel. Turn right to follow the path between the river and the canal. Through a kissing gate at the end of the canal you follow the riverbank past the Horseshoe Falls and climb to Llantysilio Church. On reaching the road, turn left through the hamlet of Llantysilio to reach a junction.
  2. Continue a few paces further to find a stile on the right and then head towards the trees on the left, where a rutted track then climbs north on a high pastured hillside.
  3. Over a broken stile at the top left of the field the path swings right above a plantation. Keep right at a fork and later cross a stile before eventually descending to round the cottages at Pen-y-bryn. Follow the drive, which leads out to the Horseshoe Pass road at the Britannia Inn.
  4. Turn right along the road, then right again when you get to the first junction. At a bend, mount a stile on the left to head south across the fields. Reaching a farm track briefly go right, leaving at a fork over a stile on the left onto a narrow lane. Go left here to meet the Horseshoe Pass road again.
  5. Go over a stile on the right-hand side of the road, signposted to Velvet Hill, and ascend by quarry workings.
  6. Later, swing right along a wide grassy track, climbing steeply through bracken to reach the ridge, and go left for the summit.
  7. Descend south on a narrow footpath to reach a fence above some woods. Do not cross (as many have done), but follow the fence down left to a stile. After crossing the stile go right, along a path that leads back to the lane near the car park.
While you're there

From the refurbished Llangollen Station you can take a ride on one of the vintage steam trains that operate along an 8-mile (12.9km) stretch of the Dee Valley to Carrog. You can plan a pub lunch or a picnic from any of the stations, which have been restored to their early 1950s liveries. Berwyn Station lies close to the start of the walk.

Where to eat and drink

The famous Britannia Inn, halfway along the route, is a bustling pub serving Theakston's ales and a good selection of bar meals, including many old favourites like rump steak and chicken. If you're looking for a cosy evening meal, wander down to Llangollen for The Corn Mill.

What to look out for

On the hill slopes above Pen-y-bryn you pass the remains of a slate quarry incline. Quarrying has been carried out on the Llantysilio Mountains for many hundreds of years and the Berwyn Slate Quarry, over the hill near the Horseshoe Pass, still operates. You can see the remains of the old pulley houses and the ramps, which plummet down to Abbey Grange.

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