Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here reporting on a hike that I took with my dad in February 2019. We didn’t write blogs way back then but, my dad has lots of photographs from our hikes and a sketchy memory. On this day we took a drive to Llangollen to hike to Castell Dinas Bran and Eglwyseg Escarpment. It was a chilly day with a fresh northerly breeze which meant that my dad wrapped himself up in his winter outdoor clothes. I wore my harness without my waterproof coat because there was no rain forecast for the day. With his rucksack packed, full of all the essentials, off we went to Llangollen. When I say essentials, I mean a flask of soup, a flask of coffee, sandwiches (cheese and pickle) and numerous Snickers and Trail Bars, all for the big feller. My food, treats and chews were in there too. He does consider my needs as well, sometimes. It took us about fifty minutes to drive to Llangollen while I saved my energy by sleeping all the way there while my chauffeur did his bit. We parked in the centre of the town in the main car park.
There had been quite a lot of rain on the days preceding our hike and so the River Dee was raging over the rocks under the road bridge that leads into the town. We climbed the short stretch of road that led us over the Llangollen Canal to join a narrow path passing the school buildings. The route to the castle is well signposted from the town so we followed the fingerposts. We passed a few houses on our way up the hill with one having a beautiful carpet of snowdrops in the garden. Another had a large dog in the garden which barked crazily at us. I ignored it and carried on walking. Ha!
Why does my dad have to sing? ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ was todays little ditty. As usual, only the chorus as he didn’t know any more of the song. I think that I will start howling to see how he likes it!
After some steep inclines we came to a cast iron gate with a raven or crow mould on its post. Dinas Bran means ‘Crow Castle’ hence the significance of the crow moulding and crow wood carving further along the path. The castle is in ruins now but dates back to the 1260’s when it was built by Gruffydd Maelor II on the site of earlier hillforts, including an Iron Age fort from 600BC. Legend says that a silver harp lies underneath the castle and will only be found by a boy with a white dog with a silver eye. Unfortunately, I am a black dog with two brown eyes and my dad has not been a boy for a long, long time!
The path splits at this point and gives the choice of different routes to the hills summit. We chose the middle path that joined the zig zags rising to the top of the mound. My dad made me go on my lead because there were sheep grazing on the slopes and he knows what I am like around these woolly beasts. After a bit of puffing and panting, from my dad and not me, we were soon at the top. The ruins form fantastic frames for photographs of the Dee Valley with Llangollen straddling the River Dee. The Cambrian Hills roll on in the distance and the mass of the Eglwyseg Escarpment dominate the northern aspect in another view. For 360 degrees the scenery grabs your attention and it is obvious why a fort or castle was built on this site.
My dad took some photographs of the surrounding views and of me, as usual, while the cold wind whistled through the ruins. We were alone except for the birds soaring above us and gliding in the wind. That was until be spotted a model aeroplane above us battling against the gusts of wind. I barked at it but, it continued to fly over our heads.
We dropped down the grassy northern slopes of the hill until we climbed again to the Panorama Walk. The narrow road walk took us east to a sharp left turn onto the Eglwyseg Escarpment. I was allowed to run off-lead for a while until my dad decided that the cliffs were too dangerous and I was running too close to the edge. These carboniferous limestone cliffs form a dramatic viewing platform back towards Castell Dinas Bran. We hiked a few miles along the top of the escarpment until we stopped for a break at Craig yr Adar. We sat above the Eglwyseg River while we ate our lunch. It was a lovely place to rest for a while and enjoy the peace.
Our plan was to continue along the path for a few yards until we came to a right-hand path taking us over moorland back to the Panorama Walk. Instead, my dad decided to retrace our steps along the top of the escarpment. He said that the views would be more dramatic. He was right. Even though we were treading the same path the views were different and stunning. We joined the Panorama Walk after dropping down a steep slope path about half a mile before the point that we left it earlier. We walked a further half mile along the minor road before turning off it at Wern Road. We left the road after a few yards to skirt the Dinas Bran hill. This path, albeit the first muddy section of the day, joined the path that we had used to approach the hill on our outward journey. We followed the route past the school again back into Llangollen.
It had been a good four hour walk with some great scenery. I had spent a lot of time on my lead because of sheep grazing on almost all of the trip. Fortunately, my lead extends to eight metres long so, I do get to run around. Oh yes, and to pull my dad up the slopes. I feel like I am being used! Till next time!