LLangollen & Berwyn - Explorer 255
I had heard Alan "Captain Hook" Sloman mention that he had been to this area a while back with Robin of Blogpackinglight fame, so when casting around for a weekend's walking within sensible reach of Suffolk & Cambridgeshire, I dragged the name from the back of my memory and looked for it on the map. Hey, an easy run of less than 170miles - should be under 31/2 hours - and so it was.
I set off on Friday evening with my Brother in Law and ex Challenger, David, and we arrived at Llangollen in good time for a barmeal followed by a few pints of Robinson's Unicorn at the excellent Bridge End Hotel which, incidentally, seems to be the only source of real ales in the town.
The Berwyn Mountains are very close to a lot of the UK's population so, given the accessibility, I expected a sort of mini Peak District / Black Mountain level of activity. Not so. In fact the area seems to be something of a backwater. The only disadvantage of this is that, unlike more popular areas where lay-bys and small parking areas abound, it is difficult to park a car in some of the (to me) obvious jumping off points, so having dropped the car on it's belly a couple of times in soggy verges, we decided to drive on to a Tourist attraction with a car park and risk the crowds. So Saturday's walk started at Pistyll Rhaeadr waterfall (which at 240ft is the highest in Wales, and probably England too).
By the end of the day we had met one backpacker and three or four day walkers like ourselves - in glorious weather too. Although we spotted quite a few cars in the little pay and display car park on the way down, it appears that few stray beyond the falls. It's a great little area to walk, and ours was quite short (under 12k) but with about 625m of ascent there's enough to leave you feeling that it is a worthwhile excursion. Take time to enjoy the views, have a little lunch as we did perched out of the wind on a ledge at the top of a cliff overlooking Lyn Lluncaws, and enjoy a bit of solitude away from the honeypot areas. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
No sooner had we got a pint in hand than the golfers burst in - and all of them ordered a WKD Blue, and reminded each other constantly to 'mind your language' and waving score cards. Something odd going on here. As the Bridge had been vacated we went back there and settled in.
"What's going on with those golfers?" I asked the barmaid.
"Oh, they're not golfers - it's the rugby club on a night out. They're playing Pub Golf".
"How do they play?"
"Well, in each pub they all have to drink whatever is marked on the scorecard for that pub. But each pub has a rule too, and if they break the rule they have to pay a forfeit" (I guessed this was an extra drink) "and lose a point. For instance, in here none of them was allowed to go to the toilet, and in the next pub no one can swear ... and so on."
"So what happens at the end?" I asked.
"Dunno, love. I don't think any of them have ever lasted the course".
Well, at least now we could settle down for a quiet pint. Wrong. Through the door burst about twenty fairly large girls in very small dresses wearing 'birthday girl' sashes, and it was party time all over again. Llangollen may be a small town, but the people there know how to have a night out!
|Up to Offa's Dyke Path|
For the more dedicated walker wishing to explore the hills in this neck of the woods, why not pop over to the Pieman's blog for a review of the local Hewitts? But for us ambling flatlanders these excursions made for a really enjoyable weekend. Not too taxing - just relaxing.