This month’s walk takes you along a stretch of the Llangollen Canal before heading north and east around the amazing Fenn’s Moss on the Wrexham and Shropshire borders.
The walk is flat throughout and covers about eight miles. You will experience a variety of landscapes, including canal towpaths, mixed woodland and open marshland. The paths are all well-defined and easy to follow. Dogs should be OK as you do not pass through many fields containing livestock, although at least one stile is not canine-friendly. You will hear and see many different birds, including buzzards, pheasants and cuckoos.
Please note that biting insects abound in the parts running adjacent to Fenn’s Moss and that insect repellent is a must on bare skin.
I started the walk at Morris’ Bridge on Moss Lane (1), Whixall, Whitchurch SY13 2RT. There is a car park on the Wrexham side of the canal there.
Walk up to the canal from the car park and turn right along the towpath. Go straight on for about a quarter of a mile until you reach the Roving Bridge (2). Here, the canal splits two ways, south or to your left towards the Whixhall Marina and north-west or bearing slightly right along the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. We will be heading straight on.
You’ll see a sign saying “Welcome To The Mammoth Tower” on your right after about three-quarters of a mile. There is a splendid view of the Fenn’s, Whixhall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve from the top of the “tower” (3).
Go back to the towpath and continue in the same direction. A short distance further on, you’ll notice a wooden post on the left-hand side of the towpath with the Welsh dragon (4) on it. You are now entering Wales!
As you reach the two-mile mark, you’ll notice the canal starts to bear left or in a westerly direction. After a short while, you’ll come to the Cornhill Bridge. Go under the bridge and turn immediately right. Go through the wooden kissing gate onto the Shropshire Way. Turn left, follow the fence on your left, and go through the metal kissing gate. Take the well-trodden path across the field and exit using the metal gate.
You’ll see the Taraloka Women’s Buddhist Retreat on your right.
Hop over the stile on the other side of the drive. Take the path diagonally right or northeast towards the dead oak tree (5). Once past the oak tree, exit the field through the metal gate in the far corner.
Turn right or northeast onto the disused railway track, now a well-maintained path with limestone chippings. You’ll pass Cambrian Cottage on your right after about half a mile. Go through the gap to the right of the metal-barred gate ahead of you. You’ll see the signs indicating that you’re heading into the nature reserve.
About a quarter of a mile further on, take the grassy path (6) that leaves the disused railway diagonally to the left just before the next metal-barred gate.
The track you’re on runs between two lines of silver birch trees. Ignoring the path you see on your left, go straight over the “crosspaths”, walking between the two blue stakes.
There are tremendous views of the Moss over to the right at points along this stretch.
Notice how the path has now become almost sandy underfoot. Walk past Moss Villa, noticing the mixed woodland and pink rhododendron. Go through the gap in the fence by the metal-barred gate.
You’ll see a metal-barred gate when you reach the point with the single slender silver birch tree (7) in the middle of the path. Turn sharp right here (due east) and follow the path. Walk past Lodge Farm on your left. Go through the wooden gate to the right of the large metal one.
The impressive Moss stretches out either side of you here. You’ll eventually cross the disused railway you were on a little while earlier. Carry straight on, keeping the information boards to your right. The soil underfoot is quite peaty along this stretch.
There’s a line of small silver birch trees on your right, and you’ll see signs on your left saying “Jack’s Ride” and “Bull Ride”. Shortly afterwards, turn right at the “crosspaths”, so you’re now heading due south.
Walk along the grassy vehicle track. You’ll pass a sign on your left saying “Azulox Ride” and then some information boards on your right. The grassy path meets a stony one. Carry on in the same direction, and you’ll pass a grass car park on your right.
Pass the “21 History Trail” wooden post on your left. Continue along the road with the grass strip down the middle. You then go through the metal-barred gate to the left of the white house. Walk down the lane past the houses on your right and the small football pitch on your left. Turn right at the T-junction.
There are now houses on your left. Turn left after passing the 10mph and the “Restricted Byways” signs (8). Walk past Higher Moss House on your left. Continue along the land for about a quarter of a mile and follow the road to the right.
You should see the canal on your left as you turn the corner. Walk as far as the Roundthorn Bridge just after the Marl allotment (9). Do not cross it, but walk straight on with the farm on your right. The bridge you started at is about half a mile along the canal towpath.