“ North Wales „
Just 45 minutes drive from where I live in Merseyside but it is like another world. Beautiful views with refreshing walks by the stream and around 30 minutes up to the top of the hill following a simple pathway. There you will see a wondrous view into what appears to be a valley. There are birds that you will not see most other places, if you are into nature, there is an abundance of plants and wild flowers. After the walk you can even enjoy the little cafe where you can eat or drink inside or out. I have been going to Loggerheads for 50 years and it still excites me seeing everything again. Don't think it is just for the old though, the children love it too, I did as a child and they they still do now.
The title I have chosen for this review basically says it all. I have lived in the same area for the past twelve years and it is only very recently that I have come to realise how lucky I am in having such a beautiful, tranquil beauty spot a mere 10 minute drive away.
Loggerheads has been a constant, and quite often daily, walking spot for me and my dogs over the years and I find it hard to believe that I have only just considered writing a review on it in the hope that other people, who may be unaware of this place, can enjoy it. Truth be told, I would prefer to have the place all to myself, but that wouldn't be fair would it?
I have been in two minds whether to write this review myself, or allow my two dogs to put paw to paper and share their views on Loggerheads. After all, it's a very thin line between who enjoys going there the most: them or me. There is nothing more enjoyable on a hot sunny day than mooching through the forest, finding some nice refreshing mud to roll in and then jumping into the crystal clear waters of the river to cool off - and the dogs quite enjoy doing this too!!
Joking aside, this really is a fantastic place and I do hope that it will encourage readers who find themselves in the area to take a little look around this very pretty country park.
And so, on with the review.
A Little Loggerheads Information
Loggerheads Country Park forms part of the Clwydian Range, which is one of only eight protected landscapes in Wales. The 80 acres of Country Park was created down in the limestone valley and accessible walking areas include both the gentle pathways on the valley floor, or up to the top of the rock through the cool forest.
Loggerheads is approached via a fairly narrow driveway which can be a little daunting if you meet a car coming the other way. Fortunately, this only stretches for approximately 30 metres so it is certainly not a death trap. This pathway leads you directly into the car park where you will find the usual pay machines (more on that later) and fairly large information boards detailing the various species of birds you may see whilst in the park. Despite the somewhat formidable driveway leading up to the park, once inside the grounds, this really is a very attractive area and you find yourself surrounded by trees and rock, the rock face itself towering above the mere mortals who come to visit.
Basically, you have a choice of two directions in which you can go off to explore. The first direction I will cover is the one that I use most often, and takes visitors to the lower section of the valley and is, in my opinion, the prettiest. This area is accessed by walking across the small bridge which crosses the stream, and on past the cafe and picnic area which I will cover in greater detail later in the review. Crossing a second bridge, this time an old stone offering, you find yourself on one of the main pathways that lead through the Country Park. To the right hand side of the path, walkers are dwarfed by the magnificent limestone rock, and to the left, the path follows the river which is always low enough at this point to bubble over the rocks below. Further along, there is a very low point down to the water's edge which is a favourite for people with young children to go paddling (and when it's quiet, I usually let the dogs take a dip here). The path then takes a right turn which leads to a fairly dense wooded area, and I would warn people to be wary when walking through here due to the amount of mud which is usually present! At the time of writing this review, this area, together with many others parts of Loggerheads, appears to be in the midst of a major thinning out and tree felling period which I assume is with the intention of maintaining the natural environment and preventing everything from becoming too choked up with greenery. As you continue along this route, it begins to become obvious that you are getting a little higher as the river suddenly appears to be much lower down than before. In fact, you could probably call it a fairly huge drop! Suddenly, the path stops! Now here, you can either turn round and go back the way you came, cross the river to get to the other side, or if you are feeling brave (and believe me, you do need to be energetic and fit to do this) you can climb the extremely high set of winding stone steps which will take you to the top of the cliff face. This is still very pretty and surrounded by some nice old trees, but for anyone with breathing difficulties, I would strongly advise again this. I used to do this route a lot when the dogs were younger, but even they cannot manage this anymore. The park authorities are obviously sympathetic with the walkers because they have very kindly put a bench at the top, which I assume is to allow people to get their breath back. So, once at the top, it's all downhill from here as they say, and you continue your walk through a very large forest, before arriving back onto the main road just a couple of hundred yards from the main entrance to the Country Park. I would add that, once at the top of the rock face, the view is magnificent and you can appreciate just how high you are because you can look down onto the car park and the cars look like small dots. The surrounding landscape is magnificent and you come to realise that the climb really was worth the effort.
On many occasions whilst travelling along this route, I have noticed that the park authorities have arranged old logs and tree trunks to mimic natural habitats in order to encourage the wildlife.
The alternative route to this is approached via the left hand side of the car park and I will not go into as much detail here, simply due to the fact that there is not as much to see. This route basically runs parallel to the previous route, but takes its visitors a little higher, a little sooner. The pathway along this route is a little more dangerous because, unlike before, there is no concrete footpath, but merely a 'trail' cut out of the hillside. In addition, there is no barrier between the pathway and the huge drop on the other side, so this is certainly not suitable for anyone with a fear of heights. If you have curious dogs and/or children who are prone to having a look over the edge, keep them on a short lead (dogs AND children!) As I mentioned earlier, there is not a great deal to see along here, and if you continue along, you cross a small section of the river and simply meet up with the path on the other side which meets the high stone steps.
One good thing about both of these routes is the fact that there are numerous benches positioned along the pathways, so if the walk is getting a little too much for you, you can rest your legs for a little while and get your breath back.
Parking (or not)
I think the main disadvantage of the car park is the minimal amount of spaces. It is fairly easy to navigate in that it comprises approximately four rows of bays, each bay accommodating around ten cars. That may seem quite a large space to some, but come the summer and, hopefully, nicer weather, it is amazing how quickly this becomes full to the brim. Many visitors park along the main road just outside the Country Park, but in the height of summer, even that gets busy. I suppose it goes to show how popular this place is.
The car park itself has two pay machines. Now, one advantage of living in this area is parking prices. Loggerheads is no exception, and the parking fee for up to one hour is 20p. Charges rise in small increments and, if I remember rightly, I think the charge for up to three hours is in the region of 50p. For people who intend to visit on a regular basis, an annual parking permit is available from Denbighshire County Council. I have just purchased my first one for £25 and this allows me unlimited parking for the next twelve months. I would add that, although I am not covering it this review, the pass also includes parking for the adjoining beauty spot 'Moel Famau'.
For regular visitors like myself, educational parties can be a bit of a nightmare at times. Put it this way: two soggy dogs and a party of excitable youngsters don't always go hand in hand! (Though, it is funny seeing everyone jump to one side when the dogs want to say 'hello') However, I do appreciate that Loggerheads is a great place for nature trails and school trips. There are some really good services available to help children learn about the environment, such as learning packs for teachers who take their class on a guided walk round Loggerheads, self guided interactive tours and guided tours with park rangers. There are also various activities going on throughout the year, though you need to check with the park itself to see what is on offer at any particular time.
The most important thing I want to mention first in this section is the ice-cream! Is it Welsh? No! The ice-cream kiosk, which incidentally forms part of the cafe, prides itself on selling Cheshire Farm ice-cream which is renowned in Cheshire (obviously!) for its creaminess and rich flavour. The cafe itself sells a fairly wide variety of both hot and cold food, though as I have never eaten anything (apart from the ice-cream) here, I will not comment on how good it is. However, I can confirm that the cafe is always busy in the summer months so I suppose that is a good enough recommendation in itself.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a fairly large picnic lawn opposite the cafe and this is very popular with families and is ideal for younger children who want to have a kick about with a ball. Picnic benches are dotted around the lawn and it really is a pleasant little area in which people can sit and relax. Dogs are now allowed on here.
Just opposite Loggerheads is the Loggerheads Pub. This does wonderful food and has plenty of tables and benches outside so that you can eat your lunch and take in the scenery. I would add that this does not form part of the Country Park and you do need to leave the park itself to gain access to the pub.
Where To Find It
Loggerheads Country Park is situated on the main Mold to Ruthin Road (A494) and is clearly marked by the usual brown tourist signs. The turning can be a little confusing to strangers due to the fact that the sign directs you up a side road, but does not tell you that you have to bear immediately right once on this road. It is very easy to miss the entrance so, to any visitors arriving for the first time, this is something to bear in mind.
My personal opinion is that the good points far outweigh the bad. This is a wonderful place for people of all ages to visit due to the fact that you can choose whether you take the easy, scenic walking route, or whether you don the hiking boots and climb to the top of the cliff. Either way, the scenery is fantastic and you can even smell the wild garlic which grows on the valley floor. The water in the river and streams is crystal clear and ideal for children (and dogs!) to have a quick paddle.
There is only one real bad point that comes to mind and that is the lack of dog waste bins available. I always make sure that I clean up after my dogs, but there is nothing worse than trying to enjoy a nice walk with a bag of **** in my hand. Therefore, the only improvement I think that could be made is to increase the number of bins available. However, it has just occurred to me that there also seems to be a short supply of general waste bins too. There is one fairly large one outside the cafe, but I cannot recall seeing any more along either of the routes that I have mentioned.
Overall, I would highly recommend Loggerheads to any potential visitor to the area. This is a lovely place to visit, whether you are out with your children and/or dogs, or whether you simply fancy a leisurely stroll. I know that it is extremely popular with local people like me, but I have heard of people travelling miles to visit. There is nothing I could really fault with this place, maybe with the exception of the lack of waste bins, but all in all Loggerheads provides a wonderful, atmospheric environment for all.
A Final Point (not relating to Loggerheads)
I would just like to add that although I live in this beautiful part of the country, I am not actually Welsh so apologise to any Welsh readers if I have made any spelling errors in relation to the place names. I am sure I have got them right, but please feel free to correct me if not!
Thanks for reading.
(Also on Ciao under the name 'matthewsmum')
80 acres of a tree lined limestone valley with riverside walks & a history of lead mining