Loggerheads, North Wales Sunday 5th January 2014

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Andrew Mayer   Distance: 8.5 – 9 miles

Leaving Loggerheads car park we head out along the river bank towards Devil’s Gorge. Crossing the river we slowly climb up towards Moel Famau. Working our way round til we reach the top (Jubilee Tower) – 554m/1800ft) where we stop for lunch. From the top we set off down through the woods, heading to the car park at Moel Famau, from where we head back towards Loggerheads car park, approx 2 miles, walking on ‘B’ roads and footpaths, taking us back to Loggerheads.

Moderate Leader: Selwyn Williams   Distance: 8 miles

A varied walk covering woodland, riverside, quiet lanes, with some lovely views over the surrounding countryside. We start off with a walk along the Leete Path high above the River Alun, passing quarries and caves, before descending towards Cilcain (we might visit Cilcain for lunch if we feel like a short steep climb!). Otherwise we follow a riverside path to emerge at Pentre where we begin to climb gently to Cae Newydd and a lovely track along the side of Ffrith Mountain with splendid views over the valley. Circling round to Brithdir-mawr we descend over tracks and field paths to finish along a riverside path and lane back to Loggerheads.

Leisurely Leader: Philomena Walker   Distance: 6 miles

We cross over the road from Loggerheads Country Park, walking down lanes and paths to the village of Maeshafn, passing the ‘Miners Arms’ (??). We then enter and circle round Big Covert Woods, leaving by Ty Hir and returning, and retracing steps, back to Loggerheads.

Easy Leader: Derek Lee   Distance: 5.5 miles or less

We start off on the Leete path for a short way before turning left and climbing a short way up the hillside to make our way as far as Cilcain. There is more road walking than is usual here but that is because the planned footpath would involve crossing very difficult stiles. After lunch in Coed y Felin Woodland Trust park, we take the mostly woodland footpath towards Pont-Newydd and return along the Leete path. There are several options to cut this walk short if weather or conditions are unfavourable.

Notes On The Area

Loggerheads Country Park is a long established beauty spot, popular with those seeking rural peace and those whose interest is industrial archaeology. Loggerheads was a pioneer of the concept of a country park. Industry had virtually ceased here by the turn of the century, and in 1926 the Crosville Motor Bus Company bought the land to develop as a tourist venue for their bus trips. A tea house, bandstand, boating lakes and kiosks were installed and gardens were laid out in the style of an urban park. It was extremely popular in the 1930’s when the hourly bus service brought the crowds from nearby towns. The land was bought by Clwyd in 1974 and turned into a country park proper, with a fine nature trail and an industrial trail. The area got its name from an acrimonious dispute over mining rights in the 18th century between the Lords of Mold and Llanferres. The block-headed behaviour of the parties involved was satirized in the sign of the inn across the road from the park entrance. It depicts two figures back to back, clearly not on speaking terms.

This is limestone country, covered with woodland. Ash, alder, hazel and sycamore favour the riverside area, with ferns, lichens and woodland flowers growing beneath the tree canopy. Treecreepers, jays and nuthatches live in the woods, while grey wagtails, dippers and grey herons haunt the river. On the steep slopes of the valley sides oak, beech and silver birch mingle with conifers, while shrubs and undergrowth provide a healthy environment for a wide variety of wildlife.

The River Alun runs a glaciated valley through the heart of the country park, and at one place the water disappears into swallow holes, natural fissures in the limestone that have been enlarged by erosion, and runs underground through caves, Along the section known as the Leete Walk, you can see great caves and fissures in the rock. Some of these features, which may have been natural originally, have been exploited by man, because the area was a centre for lead mining up to the 1870’s. Mining in this type of rock presented some problems, as water seeped down through the cracks to flood the deeper levels. One answer was to use pumps powered by water-wheels. However, the wheels themselves needed a constant supply which the disappearing river could not provide. The answer was to build the leat (spelled Leete locally). This artificial channel took its supply from the river above the swallow holes and carried it downstream to the wheelpits working the pumps.

Moel Famau, which rises to 1817 ft, is the highest peak of the Clwydian Hills and is easily recognisable by the ruined Jubilee column on the summit, which commemorates the 50th year of George III’s reign. There are extensive views over the estuaries of the Dee and Mersey, the Cheshire Plain, the Cumberland Hills, the Vale of Clwyd, Snowdonia and Anglesey.