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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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
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 ….
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!
Text and images © Paul Shorrock