Andrew Galloway is transported back in time to Castell Dinas Bran in a Welsh valley.

Castell Dinas Bran, the ruined medieval castle sited upon a steep-sided hill above the town of Llangollen, has an association with crows. Today the rampart ruins offer a bird’s-eye view over the River Dee, just as they would have done when they were constructed in the thirteenth century at the behest of the Princes of Powys Fadog. From these heights the eagle-eyed can pick out the Vale of Eglwyseg, site of the ruins of Vale Crucis Abbey, a Cistercian Monastery also dating from the thirteenth century.

Beyond these, on a raised mound in the middle of a meadow, stands Croes Elisedd (Eliseg’s Pillar). The monument, which pre-dates the Abbey by 400 years, holds an important place in the national identity of Wales. It was erected by Cyngen ap Cadell in honour of his great-grandfather Elisedd ap Gwylog, once King of Powys, who died in the year 755. That’s 1,268 years of history visible from the walls of Castell Dinas Bran. The crows were there then as they are there now, their beady eyes seeing all. At 12km this walk is ideal for an autumnal day when daylight hours are limited.

Castell Dinas Bran & Vale Crucis Abbey from Llangollen: route description

Start/Finish: Market Street Car Park. (GR: SJ215421 and Post Code: LL20 8NB) | Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles) | Ascent: 480m/1,575 ft | Duration: 4 hours | Maps: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Sheet 255 Llangollen & Berwyn

1. SJ215421: Start from the medieval bridge in the centre of Llangollen. This majestic stone structure is believed to date from the fourteenth century, commissioned by Bishop John Trefor of St Asaph, although it has undergone much restoration in seven hundred years, most recently in 1968. There is ample parking nearby on Market Street. Cross the bridge to the north, taking the minor road to the side of the Bridge End Hotel. The road crosses a canal. Ahead, take the footpath northwards for 600m passing beside a school and recreation grounds. At a crossroads continue north to the information board at the gated entrance to the castle (there is no admission fee).

Castell Dinas Bran, Llangollen. Credit: Andrew Galloway

Castell Dinas Bran, Llangollen. Credit: Andrew Galloway

2. SJ217429: Follow the zig-zag path up-hill to the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran. Spend some time taking in the majestic setting. The view of the Eglwyseg escarpment to the north is more than worth the effort of the climb. From the north-east corner of the old ramparts a path descends to a minor road.

9. Dyffryn Dyfrdwy Dee Valley from Castell Dinas Bran

Dyffryn Dyfrdwy Dee Valley from Castell Dinas Bran. Credit: Andrew Galloway

3. SJ227432: Beneath Trevor Rocks take the minor road westwards, the route of the Offa’s Dyke Path, for 1.7km to a signpost at a junction. Keep westwards towards World’s End for 150m. On the left a footpath branches away from the road. Follow the footpath through fields for 850m, until it re-joins the road. Follow the road northwards for a further 300m to a junction. The view to the north of Craig Arthur, the limestone crag standing proud above the Eglwyseg Valley, from this location is particularly breathtaking.

10. Craig Arthur Eglwyseg Llangollen

Craig Arthur Eglwyseg Llangollen. Credit: Andrew Galloway

4. SJ215458: Take the minor road to the left heading westwards for 750m to a fork in the road where a rough track branches away to the left. Follow the track for 1.3km through the forested slopes of Fron Fawr. Where the track splits into two, keep right for 100m to Abbey Cottage. Follow the margin of a field southwards for 150m. At a fingerpost take the path descending through the woods to a footbridge. Cross the river, following the track through the farmyard for 300m to the main road (A542). Turn to the right, walking northwards for just 100m. In the field to your right stands Eliseg’s Pillar.

1. Eliseg's Pillar

Eliseg’s Pillar. Credit: Andrew Galloway

5. SJ202445: Retrace your steps to the footbridge. Keeping to the margin of the field once again head to the south for 200m. A path through woods to the right leads to a further footbridge. Cross the bridge to reach the ruins of Vale Crucis Abbey.

11. Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen

Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen. Credit: Andrew Galloway

6. SJ204441: Head back to the footbridge and into the field once again. 200m to the south the footpath branches away from the river, crossing fields for 500m to reach the main road (A542). Turn to the right, walking along the road for 100m, locating a bridge over the canal. Cross the road, cross the bridge to the towpath.

7. SJ207435: Follow the towpath for 1.7km, passing the International Eisteddford Pavilion, to the Bridge End Hotel. In front of the hotel cross the road to arrive back at medieval bridge of Llangollen.

Further information

Public Transport: The number 5 bus runs from Wrexham to Llangollen every 30 minutes during the week.

Tourist information: Llangollen Tourist Information Centre, 01978 860828,

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