This month’s walk is a 7.5 mile (12.2 km) hike around the beautiful Minera Quarry.
To get there, take the A483 and exit at junction four onto the A525 towards Ruthin. Follow the road through Coedpoeth and turn left onto the B5426 (signposted Minera/World’s End) as you leave the village. Take the right turn directly opposite Minera Aided Primary School, continue past St Mary’s Church. Take the first left onto Maes-y-Ffynnon Road and follow it until you come to the reserve car park (SJ 258 519).
You will encounter exposed moorland, uneven ground and steep slopes. Watch out for bikes around Llandegla Forest!
This is a walk of diverse habitats and landscapes, including flower-rich limestone grassland and panoramic views from Esclusham Mountain.
Enter the reserve, walking past the kilns on your left and through the hazel, birch and willow. Carry on past the footbridge and the Aber Sychnant (Welsh for dry river). Continue along the track through the gate and enjoy the summer orchid displays.
Keep walking on the track towards the cliffs at the back of the quarry, passing a stone cairn and heading towards the limestone gorge. The path passes a big boulder and wet area and starts to climb. Notice the quaking-grass beside the path, which loops round the back of the quarry. This sheltered grassland is full of wildflowers, butterflies and colourful five-spot burnet moths. Follow the path back down, passing the cairn again to rejoin the main track.
At the two large boulders, turn left and leave the quarry, following the wide track through the woods. Notice the wild garlic and coppiced hazel mixed with ash and willow. Stay on this track, climbing uphill underneath some power lines. When you reach the thickly hedged lane, carry on until a finger-post directs you left into a field. Walk uphill through the field, to the right of the trees and bracken area. From the top, head to the bottom right-hand corner, where a stile (before the buildings) leads onto the lane.
Turn left and continue for one mile, following signs to Llandegla Forest Visitor Centre. To the left of the visitor centre, follow the walking trail signs to the Black Grouse Trail (purple). Follow the trail as far as the power lines and take the left-hand path through the pine forest. Walk along this track for ¾ mile until you see a wooden post on the left (with ‘9 km’ on the back) and several other marker posts opposite. Turn left here. On reaching the black grouse sculptures, climb over the stile onto open moorland. This forest edge is prime habitat for seeing black grouse, but you’ll have to be lucky!
When the path forks, take the left-hand route. Notice the mix of typical upland moorland plants: bell heather, ling, cross-leaved heath, gorse, bilberry and tormentil. Watch for stonechats perched on top of gorse bushes. At the stone wall, follow the waymarker along the wall to Tŷ Hir Farm.
At the farm, turn right along the track (the footpath largely follows the fence line on the left). Look out for red kite and swifts. Follow the waymarkers over a stile, through a field with a dip and stream to another wooden stile. Once over the stile, head towards the track which ascends the next hill between two pylons. In the grassland, notice harebells and listen for linnet and goldfinch. The wet area contains meadowsweet and forget-me-nots.
The path winds through willow, mountain ash and hawthorn. Cross the plank over the stream and continue along the narrow path, over another footbridge, a stone stile and a wooden stile through the wall. The next field slopes steeply uphill and there is a leaning way marker post at the top. Follow the arrow on the post along the fence until you hit the track. Turn right onto the track, passing a tin-roofed stone ruin on your left. Continue along the gravel track.
Cross the tarmac road and take the grassy track up Esclusham Mountain, turning right to reach the trig point and its panoramic views over Wales and England. Retrace your steps to the tarmac road and turn right.
Continue along the road, ignoring the first footpath sign and walking beneath the pylons. Take the next footpath on the left. As you walk downwards, enjoy views of the church opposite and, in autumn, the rich colours of leaves and berries.
Pass two large hawthorns and turn left over the wooden stile through the wall. Turn sharp left and immediately right downhill through the path in the bracken. Once in the woods, turn left when you hit the track (following the yellow arrow) and follow the path downwards, through a meadow with orchids, black knapweed, red campion and birdsong. Exit by a big wooden gate and turn left, walking straight along the dismantled railway, past the house and to the car park.
Many thanks to Mark Roberts of the North Wales Wildlife Trust for providing us with this walk and the accompanying photos.
Become a member or sign up for their monthly newsletter at www.northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk