We start in the middle of Llanarmon village, situated in the upper Ceiriog Valley. The walk takes in some of the best views the County has to offer, and we recommend it for people who particularly enjoy long walks.
Start, Parking and Public Transport
Directions to starting point by car: From Wrexham, take the A483 south to the junction with the A5, take the third exit at the roundabout to the next roundabout and then the first exit into Chirk.
Turn right to the railway station, where you turn left, and then right onto the B4500, go through the beautiful Ceiriog Valley to Glyn Ceiriog. Stay on the B4500 and drive the nine miles onto Llanarmon, DC.
Parking: There should be sufficient on-street parking in Llanarmon village, so please don’t park in the area next to the public toilets.
Public transport: call Traveline Cymru on 0800 464 0000, text 84268 or visit traveline.info.
This walk follows the upper reaches of Afon Ceiriog, across wild moorland, forest and more heather moorland to return via an old drovers’ road. You may see black grouse or hear them. If you are lucky, you might also get sight of a hen harrier or hear a curlew.
The walk is 8½ miles long and should take you about five hours. It starts from the centre of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog and traverses moorland where the path may not be apparent at times. There is also a stream to cross, so be prepared with good boots, a map and a compass (and know how to use them).
It is quite a strenuous walk, and you should allow at least five hours.
There is a signpost In the centre of the village. From here, leave the village by the road for Swch-cae-rhiw. You have about two miles of walking along this lane, however, there are beautiful and varied views along this road. It is wonderful in autumn when the leaves are turning colour.
Although there is very little traffic, take care as there is some farm traffic, and at weekends you may meet off-road vehicles. When the lane becomes a stony track, turn right indicated at the footpath signpost. This way is Swch-cae-rhiw.
There is a steep-sided valley off to the right, containing several waterfalls, but we are not going this way. A track climbs up the hillside. The trail ends soon after passing a small plantation and some small crags. You are now on a large area of moorland.
There is also a faint path and waymarks on the posts. Set a bearing of 345 degrees. Further on, the trail descends across eroding peat to a footbridge and then cross a stile. Continue across the marshy ground until you reach a waymark that points ahead. Turn right and at the next junction of tracks, bear right towards the forest.
An Interesting Monument
Ford a small stream to a stile by a gate. A short distance to the left is an interesting monument to local mining engineer James Darlington. Follow the forest track (the trees have also been cleared from this area), bear right at the junction of paths, and bear right again after a slight rise.
After 70 metres, look right for a post with a blue bridleway waymarker and a small gate in a fence. Turn right off the track and onto the moorland. The path is clear and rises steadily.
There are good views over towards Vivod. After about 1.5km, a post with two waymarkers marks a fork in the path. Take the right fork with the yellow waymark. At first, this is a clear path through the heather.
There is a stile to cross by a boundary stone. The path might be a bit boggy in places. Keep the fence to your right and head towards a plantation. Eventually, the path meets an old drovers’ track.
Moreover, turn right and go through the gate. Follow the track due south. It has been badly eroded in places by off-road vehicles. The view has changed again. Now prominent is the ridge of Mynydd Tarw with Cadair Berwyn and Cadair Bronwen beyond.
Lastly, the track joins two sealed lanes on reaching a white cottage. Bear right. It is all downhill now, with views across to Llanarmon. On reaching the road, turn right, cross the bridge, and you are back in the village.
Points of Interest
To download the map that shows the following sites, click here.
Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.
The village takes its name from Saint Garmon, a fifth-century French bishop. St Garmon’s churchyard contains a “preaching” mound which may have been for this purpose. The site is near two yew trees dated at over 1,000 years old.
Sarffle Farm (SJ1433; LL20 7LH)
In 1920, 500 Roman coins were found here and were also sent to the British Museum. In 2003, aerial photography showed evidence of a Roman marching camp above Swch-cae-rhiw, suggesting this road may have been an old Roman road.
Dolwen Farm (SJ112347; what3words: abstracts.disposal.focus).
Dolwen is an ancient farmhouse associated with Owain Glyndwr, the Prince of Wales. During the 1400s, he led the rebellion against an English invasion. Owain Glyndwr’s sister Lowri lived at Blaen Nantyr, a previous hall dating from the middle ages which stood within a few hundred yards of the existing one at Blaen Cwm.
Dolwen farm has an old toilet as found in medieval castles. It is now a vast and highly-regarded lamb and beef farm.
The farm has been in the hands of the Edwards family for over 1,000 years.
Special Area for Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA)
This area of land is part of the Berwyn Ranges designated as an SAC and SPA. The Berwyn is the long spine of moorland stretching from Llangollen to Dinas Mawddwy and is one of the largest and also most attractive areas of upland heath remaining in Wales.
Moorlands are uncultivated areas with short, rough plantlife, usually on poor soils. Heather, grassland and bracken cover the steep slopes while crowberry and the occasional lesser twayblade grow here.
Moreover, the heathland is of very high quality and has heather at many different growth stages. The Berwyn also supports the most extensive area of near-natural blanket bog in Wales. The gently contoured ridges are blanketed with deep wet peat dominated by heather, heathland mosses and cotton grass.
The attractive white-flowered and orange-berried cloudberry is present here, close to the southernmost limit of its British range. The Berwyn has one of the most diverse moorland breeding bird populations south of the Scottish highlands, with red and black grouse birds that take cover and feed on the heather. Birds of prey like the merlin, hen harrier and peregrine falcon soar high above it.
Ffordd Saeson (Saxon Way)
In 1165, legend had it that Henry II crossed the Ceiriog Valley at Tregeiriog (LL20 7HY) and marched along Ffordd Saeson (Saxon Way) to the bleak open moorland west of Nantyr. The ground is boggy here and offers no shelter or fuel. He fought a rearguard action with the Welsh at Offa’s Dyke at a spot called Tir y Beddau (Field of the Dead). This land also has an open access land designation.
Penybryn Farm (SJ1533; LL20 7LD)
Lastly, this farmhouse overlooking Llanarmon was the birthplace of John “Ceiriog” Hughes, one of Wales’s most famous poets. He was born on the 25th of September 1832 and died in April 1887. The Ceiriog Centenary Hall, Llanarmon DC, was built in 1932 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Hughes.
In 1923, authorities threatened to submerge the upper part of the Ceiriog Valley with two large reservoirs to supply water for Warrington. The area was to cover three villages (Llanarmon, Tregeiriog and Pentre Bach). Understandably, there were massive objections and protests from all over Wales. The protesters also raised a defence fund, and Parliament debated the matter. Lloyd George, the prime minister, was probably the one to save the day, and the government dismissed the plan.
To view our previous walks, click here.
The “Minions” feature photo is courtesy of local photographer, Chad Malcolm.