#157 – Cyrn y Brain on the Ruabon Moors

Cyrn y Brain looking towards Moel y Faen and Llantysilio Mountain

Cyrn y Brain looking towards Moel y Faen and Llantysilio Mountain

Having a Border Collie means plenty of walking!  ‘Mist’ is a real mountain dog, happy on the high hills of Snowdonia, but unfortunately we can’t fit in a high level walk every day, so we often look for new ground nearer home.  Which is how we came across Cyrn y Brain on the Ruabon Moors of North Wales.

Setting out from the Horseshoe Pass

Setting out from the Horseshoe Pass

Looking south towards Llangollen

Looking south towards Llangollen

The view west across the Horseshoe Pass to Moel y Faen

The view west across the Horseshoe Pass to Moel y Faen

The Ruabon Moors don’t exactly get a lot of visitors.  Sat between Wrexham and Ruabon to the east, Llangollen to the south and the Clwydian Hills to the north, the moors are largely ignored.  Ideal dog walking country!  We’ve been out this way before (see posts #144 and #122) and they are near enough to be a good alternative to our local Clwydian hills (see post #146).

The service track to the transmitting masts

The service track to the transmitting masts

Trig point on Cyrn y Brain at Sir Watkin’s Tower

Trig point on Cyrn y Brain at Sir Watkin’s Tower

‘Mist’ and the author on the remains of Sir Watkin’s Tower

‘Mist’ and the author on the remains of Sir Watkin’s Tower

The two transmitting masts

The two transmitting masts

There was an extra plus for the route we had chosen for the day, taking us to Cyrn y Brain – the start from the Horseshoe Pass was almost 400 metres in altitude, saving a bit of height gain on foot. Another bonus, saving some serious ‘heather bashing’ across the moor, is a rough track heading up to two transmitting masts.

Looking southeast towards the limestone escarpments of Eglwyseg Mountain

Looking southeast towards the limestone escarpments of Eglwyseg Mountain

To make the day a bit longer, we decided on a visit to the strangely named Sir Watkin’s Tower, before cutting across the moor to join a short section of the Offa’s Dyke Path.  Apparently Sir Watkin could see across seven counties from the tower, which was handy as he owned land in all seven – the fact that he built the tower right on top of an ancient Bronze Age cairn didn’t seem to bother him much!

Remains of an ancient cairn on Cyrn y Brain

Remains of an ancient cairn on Cyrn y Brain

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

The bit where we were supposed to cut across to the Offa’s Dyke Path didn’t quite work out though – we wasted time looking at a couple of options through calf-deep heather before finding one that seemed to work.  Having run short of time we decided to call it a day and to come back again some other time.

The route we nearly took on the first visit ….

The route we nearly took on the first visit ….

…. and how it looked two weeks later!

…. and how it looked two weeks later!

Looking southeast towards ‘Worlds End’ (post #144)

Looking southeast towards ‘Worlds End’ (post #144)

We came back about two weeks later to find that nature had been busy – the uniform drab green of the heather had turned to a riot of purple!  This year the colours are more vivid and vibrant than I can remember in the past, and the photos barely capture the reality

 ‘Escaped’ fir trees

‘Escaped’ fir trees

More escapees ….

More escapees ….

…. and the forest they escaped from

…. and the forest they escaped from

Our path took us through the deep heather without any bother, in fact the problem of navigation never arose, it was simply a question of following a ‘trench’ through the purple carpet.  The only sound was the quiet droning of honey bees ….

Joining the Offa’s Dyke Path

Joining the Offa’s Dyke Path

On the Offa's Dyke Path, with Llandegla Forest in the distance

On the Offa’s Dyke Path, with Llandegla Forest in the distance

On the edge of Llandegla Forest

On the edge of Llandegla Forest

We followed the Offa’s Dyke Path to the edge of Llandegla Forest, where we turned off to make our way back towards the two masts. Heading down the track again, we found out how busy those honey bees had been – three bee-hives near the track contained the most aggressive bees I have ever come across!  You’ve probably never seen two people and a dog move so fast!

Heading back to the masts ….

Heading back to the masts ….

…. and the winding road for home

…. and the winding road for home

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
This entry was posted in 5. North Wales, Border Collies and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to #157 – Cyrn y Brain on the Ruabon Moors

  1. MrsBoardwell says:

    You’re on our home turf here – the twins & Maisie go walkies here every Thu or Fri :)))

  2. Love the Heather! Looked like a great walk. . Until the killer bees chased you! 🐝 Hope everyone got out unstung!

    • Thanks Plant Girl – just a couple of stings to let us know they meant business 😉
      I bet that honey is good, if anyone can ever get at it!!

  3. Great post Paul…doesn’t the heather look particularly vibrant this year? I haven’t seen it like this for many years…and deep too. Wonderful!

    • Cheers SP – I think you posted something about the colours a few days back, but I’m still wading through emails/blogs/etc following atrip away 🙂

  4. The heather is particularly good this year isn’t it? Good that there were so many bees but shame they were so aggressive! I’ve never actually been bothered by any kind of bee – just wasps.

    I’m sure you know the Eglwyseg Hills above Llangollen too – they’re really lovely walking. Love that valley photo back down to Llangollen early in your post.
    Carol.

  5. That’s the first time I’ve been stung by a bee, but apparently the hives had been moved just a couple of days earlier, and the occupants were not too impressed 😀

  6. LensScaper says:

    The Heather looks brilliant, as it did in the last post from James (Smacked Pentax) in Yorkshire. Maybe the summer has been to its liking. This looks beautiful walking country, nothing to taxing just beautiful rolling countryside.

  7. jimmykranke says:

    That looks like a great route Paul.
    Might have a closer look at that. Many thanks.

  8. Pingback: The God of Broken Things – Cae Hawksmoor

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