Ruthin, North Wales Sunday 24th February 2013

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Dag Griffiths   Distance: 10 miles

From Ruthin we head in a NE direction to pick footpaths leading to Offa’s Dyke Path. Once on the path our objective is Moel Famau and it’s Jubilee Tower. We continue west for a short while on Offa’s Dyke Path before leaving it for footpaths through Moel Famau Country Park to the small village of Gellifor in the Vale of Clwyd. From the village footpaths will take us SW to the River Clwyd which we follow in a southerly direction back to Ruthin.

Moderate Leader: Peter Denton   Distance: 7 miles

Our walk today is heading for the foothills of the “Clwydian Range”. We managed to find a fair amount of mud on the day we recc’ed the walk, but it had been raining for days. If we have had some dry weather this will be very good underfoot and a wonderful walk. We will see some panoramic views of the Vale of Clwyd. The last part of our walk will be along the River Clwyd, and into Ruthin for tea and scones.

Leisurely Leader: Derek Lee   Distance: 7 miles

The walk sets out to the north west of Ruthin on field paths, over a gentle hill (only 150 feet) to the River Clwedog (2 miles). We turn left on Lady Bagot’s Drive which follows the river upstream in a steep sided valley. The Drive was laid out as a carriageway in the Edwardian era by Lord Bagot, so that Lady Bagot could enjoy her favourite drive after service in Llanfwrog Church and before lunch. A short sharp climb (200 feet) takes us out of the valley and we retrace our steps at the edge of the woodland back downstream to the village of Rhewl (5 miles). From here it is level field paths (impassably muddy when I did the recce) or mostly road walking back to Ruthin.

Easy Leader: Cynthia Prescott   Distance: 4.5 miles

5.5 miles if we decide to go to Rhewl. Height Gain 15 metres. This is an easy walk in the valley and is flat most of the way. There are no climbs. The first part of the walk follows the river. It is a pleasant path but there are lots of high wooden stiles to get over that cannot be avoided. We reach a road where we could have lunch, but we would be sitting on the grass so you may prefer to add a detour to the village of Rhewl and back. In Rhewl there is a bus stop, bus shelter with seats, a seat, a wall and a pub. (beware of –carpets!!. You cannot go into the pub with mucky boots on. We had Sunday lunch there but left our boots in the doorway). No footpaths and no stiles on the way back to Ruthin, but country lanes with good views.

Notes On The Area

Ruthin is one of finest small towns in Wales, rich in history, and endowed with outstanding buildings from every century between the 13th and the 20th.

The hilltop town centre is unique in its rich architectural mix and lofty views of the surrounding countryside. Behind the Davies Brothers magnificent 18th century wrought-iron gates, you find St Peters Church, founded in 1284 and famous for its spectacular 16th century carved oak roof. Behind the church is a beautiful group of buildings in a collegiate close reminiscent of Trollope’s Barchester Towers. On the Square, the multi-dormered roof of the Myddleton Arms (renamed recently as the Seven Eyes) and long known as the Eyes of Ruthin, dates from the 16th century, and the three banks are all housed in handsome, half-timbered buildings. One of these, the Natwest Bank, was once the Old Courthouse (built in 1401) and prisoners were kept in cells below the magnificent beamed court room. The beam used as a gibbet still projects from the exterior north-west wall.

Castle Street is an important part of the town centre conservation area due to its splendid examples of period houses, ranging from at least the 16th to the 19th centuries. Halfway down Castle Street on the right is Nantclwyd House one of the oldest town houses in North Wales. The present house is 16th century, but there are traces of a much earlier period. It was inhabited in Elizabethan times by Dr Gabriel Goodman, a very influential man who became Dean of Westminster for 40 years.

The Ruthin Craft Centre was opened in 1982 and is one of Wales’ premier arts venues, designed to house and encourage the applied arts at a regional, national and international level. There is a complex of ten workshops with tenants working in a variety of media – silver, textiles, pottery, painting, glass, and pewter, among others. In the gallery area prestigious exhibitions of pottery, textiles, ironwork, wood, jewellery and other media change regularly and attract connoisseurs from far afield.

Ruthin Castle, a baronial castle was built by Edward 1 around 1277. It consisted ot two wards and five round towers originally guarding the inner ward. All that remains today are three towers and the ruined double-towered gatehouse. According to local history, the lordship of Dyffryn Clwyd was given to the Grey family in 1282 after the defeat of Llywelyn, effectively ending the principality of North Wales.

Ruthin Gaol stands on a site that was first used as a prison in 1684. Until the Gaol’s closure in 1916 it was subject to many alterations and additions, including the wing based upon the Pentonville model, built in 1866. Today, part of it is used to house the County Record Office. After an intense period of building and restoration work, part of the site has been available for the public and educational groups since 2001. Much evidence of the Gaol’s former years remain. The building, acknowledged to be architecturally and historically interesting, is used to tell the story of crime and punishment in the area.