Offa’s Dyke Path – Carreg-y-big – Wern Isaf – 21.06.2011

It rained all night. The sound of rain on the roof woke me a few times during the night, worrying me about the weather for our next day’s walk. Despite my initial fears, the rain did subside, so we were able to set out without the fear of being completely drenched. We followed the path from the farm which led up to what is known as “Selattyn Hill”.

I have discovered that Selattyn hill, has a monument built one side of it known as the “Belevdere tower”. Unfortunately as we were so busy walking we did not see the building. The tower, was constructed by Mr Crewe of Pentrepant to commemorate Prince GwÊn, a 6th century British prince. According to legend, he was killed in a battle when he was fighting the Saxons near to the Morlas Brook, which was somewhere north of the hill. It is shame we did not see it ðŸ˜Ķ . However, Selattyn Hill did provide some beautiful views 🙂 –

From 2011 – 21.06.2011 – Offa's Dyke Path- Carreg-y-Big – Wern Isaf Walk

Leaving the monument to the Prince behind, the path descended down the valley, into a road. The path led us back onto fields, and we found ourselves walking the actual Dyke again. We seemed to be quite high up as we could see for miles, but not as far as the previous day. We were even rewarded with a view of Chirk Castle in the distance.

It was not long before we were on the descent again and we faced with our first real challenge of the day. “Dirty Dingle” or what was officially known as “Nanteris ravine”. Not quite the ravine in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, but it certainly seemed as bad! It was was about 80 or more steps down, which were very steep. I think our worst enemy was not how steep the actual steps were, but *MUD*. This was because steps are not constructed from concrete, they are only wooden steps enabling walkers to get down the slope.

The rain had seeped through the trees and it was very, very muddy – consequently we both slipped! Ouch! Only our rucksacks prevented us from falling to far, after that, we held on very tight! After climbing the steps out of the ravine, we had to face a muddy slope on to reach the top of the hill on the other side. I needed to use a rough branch to steady myself up the hill. Unfortunately, I had usefully lost my walking stick at some point ðŸ˜Ķ so I had to improvise!

Once we had passed the dangers of the “Dirty Dingle”, we really had a great view of Chirk Castle. This was looking a lot larger and made me ponder who would have dared to have cross the owners of this castle in the past!?!. I must admit, it looked very well preserved, after having just visited Hopton Heath castle which needed a full restoration (and how wonderful it looks now 🙂 ), from what I could see it seemed very intact. I could even see that the flag was flying – but I don’t think it was about the Queen being residence!

From 2011 – 21.06.2011 – Offa's Dyke Path- Carreg-y-Big – Wern Isaf Walk

The route took us on down through the fields and eventually out onto a roadway. We continued our walk along Offa’s Dyke Path, which took us up what began to seem like a very steep climb… (Please note, however, if you do reach this point, and you should so wish to do so, there is a route available through Chirk Castle Grounds and you are able to walk this route e during the summer months.)

We were beginning to feel exhausted when a voice came out of the blue… “Would you like a cup of tea?” Shocked, we had not heard it wrong, we had been asked by an extremely kind lady for a cup of tea, which was a complete shock to the both of us!   They were very kind, and were able to watch the clouds roll across the valley just for a a while.  I think a bigger surprise to us was that these two lovely people turned out to be going to Greenbelt this year!   If you manage to read this blog, firstly a MASSIVE Thankyou for the lovely drink and see you at Greenbelt 2011!

Restored and refreshed, we continued up the lane, which seemed quite a hike, we were once again faced with a field full of sheep! I don’t think they minded us this time. At the top of the hill, we were rewarded once again with a stunning view of Chirk Castle. If you get chance, look out for “Offa the sheep” sneaking in the photo below(a sheep’s chance of fame LOL)

From 2011 – 21.06.2011 – Offa's Dyke Path- Carreg-y-Big – Wern Isaf Walk

As we did not stop at Chirk Castle as we had originally planned, I was little bereft to find out more of what treasures that it may have held in store. The castle belongs to the Myddleton family – not to be confused with the “Middleton” family that has recently been involved with the British Royal family! The castle was built during 13th Century for the Lord Justice of North Wales for Edward 1. Although I did not officially see the coat of arms for Chirk, I think the legend of the “Bloody Hand” is quite fascinating. The Red Hand has quite a versions of how the red hand came about… all of them over the family inheritance of the castle. I will re-tell one of tales here (please click here for the rest of the murky tales 😉 )

… in the dark and distant past of Chirk Castle, two younger members of the family fought bitterly over who should inherit the castle. In order to settle their quarrel, it was agreed that the two family members should battle out in a race. It was simple enough, all the winner had to do was to touch the Castle gates at the finishing line. However, legend has it, that as rightful winner reached out to touch the castle gate, he was robbed of his victory by a supporter of his foe. The support took out his sword and sliced off his outstretched hand – hence the “bloody hand of chirk”

We were soon to leave Chirk Castle behind, as the path was on the descent through the fields. We were about to encounter yet another Canal. It was so different from the Montgomery canal we had just walked. This was the Llangollen Canal. The biggest difference – barges! It was nice to see that the canal was in use, unlike the Montgomery Canal which seemed so silent… 🙂

The Llangollen Canal, originally known as the Ellesmere Canal, built between 1793 and completed in 1805. The history behind the construction of the canal seems quite complex. The intention behind the canal was to link the rivers Dee near Chester and the Severn at Shrewsbury, but as many canal companies were involved with their separate ideas, the canal evolved, hence the change in name. This canal was built for industrial purposes, but no longer as it is merely used for pleasure cruises. I can’t say I blame them really – even Indiana Jones himself (Harrison Ford) has taken to these waters to sail one of the Narrow Boats we saw 🙂

In total the Llangollen canal is 41 miles long – although we were only going to explore a very small part of it. As we continued we were treated to the amazing sight of the “Pontcysyllte Aqueduct” – The word “Pont y Cysyllte” meaning – “bridge that links”

From 2011 – 21.06.2011 – Offa's Dyke Path- Carreg-y-Big – Wern Isaf Walk

This amazing bridge has stood since 1805 when it opened to the sounds of brass bands, a parade and thousands of cheers from crowds of people who come from all over the country to witness boats “fly” across the valley. It was Thomas Telford who had engineered this bridge, and it is now a world heritage site.

The path took us to the junction, we could either follow the boats across the aqueduct or the path under the bridge. The bridge is 126ft ~38m tall, not very high for us to walk, considering we have tackled Ben Nevis and Snowdon, but with our heavy rucksacks we decided that we would walk the bridge another time! Sorry to disappoint you all… Once we had reached the other side of the Aqueduct we had arrived at the Trevor Basin. This was a major mooring place – mainly for refuelling. There was also a great pub called “Thomas Telford”, named after the engineer, where we also refuelled for our final leg of our journey.

Instead of walking Offa’s Dyke to reach our destination, we walked Llangollen Canal instead. It was the same amount of miles – 3 miles on the flat rather than through the fields. Unfortunately I am unable to tell you what this section of the path is like, apologies for that. I would also point out that my knee had started to hurt at this point so I was glad of being able to walk along the flat! On reaching Llangollen, we need to cross the canal to reach the Campsite. We would like to point out that the Wern Isaf Campsite was not on the official list of campsites although it is on the website. I would recommend to stay here if you are camping while you are walking as it is not too far from the path, the owners are lovely!

All the photos (all be it not as many as the day before!) are as follows –

2011 – 21.06.2011 – Offa’s Dyke Path- Carreg-y-Big – Wern Isaf Walk

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One response to “Offa’s Dyke Path – Carreg-y-big – Wern Isaf – 21.06.2011

  1. Pingback: Grand Union Canal – Alperton – Paddington Basin – 23.02.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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