Newest Review: ... hill at the west with Mold lying to the east. Moel Famau, together with the Loggerheads country park lie just off the A494 Ruthin road... more
valleys, views and king size erections!
Moel Famau Country Park (Wales)
Member Name: pania22
Moel Famau Country Park (Wales)
Advantages: many different trails to suit all abilities, amazingly picturesque, peaceful and relaxing
Disadvantages: none really but mind the doggy doos on the lower section.
I have always been an outdoors girl, I've never loved anything more than being out and about walking or riding as a child and homework was very rarely able to compete with my yearning for the outdoors. I hadn't been out other than the occasional dabble until very recently when very sadly my friend passed away unexpectedly whilst working as a mountain leader, doing the job he loved in the environment that he loved and, lets face it, the mountains aren't a bad office. Since then I have thrown myself into hill walking, managing most weeks to get out and up a hill of some description in some part of the UK. Not only has this had the effect of improving my fitness it is also a way of feeling close to my friend and keeping him in mind. The peace and space of the hills is amazingly healing and reunites me with the natural world that I feel so at home in.
It was a result of one of these visits to the hills that I discovered the Clwydian ranges in North Wales and in particular, the highest of the bunch "Moel Famau" or "Mother Mountain" as the welsh translates.
Markos has already written an astounding review on the park and it isn't my intention to mimic that work here, however I took a different path to the summit than Markos and that path in itself is worthy of a new review.
To be honest I have always, extremely unfairly I now realise, dismissed North Wales as a kind of walian Bognor Regis, all buckets and spades and penny arcades. I now know that this area is astoundingly beautiful, the towns of Ruthin and Denbigh nestle in the valley at the base of the hill at the west with Mold lying to the east.
Moel Famau, together with the Loggerheads country park lie just off the A494 Ruthin road out of Mold and easily accessible to the majority of vehicles. Driving along the track I parked at the higher car park that Markos mentioned, also known as the "iron gate car park" and was immediately hit by the feeling that I had returned to a the lake district. A cattle grid and gate bars the path for loose sheep wandering the road, which snakes down through the hills to a picturesque valley below, the sun glinting off the tarmaced surface. I'm making it sound picture book because it really is. The surface of the car park and the pathways leading off and up are covered in stone chippings and give the impression of being suitable for all kinds of weather.
Standing at the far right hand corner of the car park is the entrance to the final 7 mile stretch of the Offa's Dyke National Trail and it was this path that we followed to the summit of Moel Famau and was a much gentler climb than some of the more hilly routes that really do go straight up!
I was fortunate enough to visit on a day that was perfectly still and clear with no wind and very low air pressure. This meant that the panoramic views were second to none. I was fortunate enough to be able to see, from the car park, straight across to Snowdon, the Dee and Mersey Estuaries and the wonderfully named "Hope Mountain."
Due to the time of year the heather that covered the sides of Moel Famau were a gorgeous deep purple in colour and contrasted amazingly with the almost lawn-like areas of cleared heather used for grazing. A part of the hillside from where we were standing looked as though a giant had flicked out a huge green and purple blanket over the rocks below, such was the smoothness of the grass and contrast between that and the heather. The surroundings were simply stunning and as a result I would certainly recommend a visit throughout the autumn months of the year.
The Offa's Dyke route to the summit winds gently around the outside of the mountain, which leads to a much gentler stroll to the top. Bearing in mind that I visited Moel Famau as a result of my friends idea of a "gentle stroll" whilst I was in the grip of flu, I made it to the top relatively unscathed with just a few short breathers on the many benches that line the path. Due to this I would say that although yes, a bit more than a gentle slope in parts, this path to the top would be suitable for people of many different fitness levels although not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs unless in a multi-terrain pushchair. The pathway is completely in the open with an amazing view across the valleys throughout. It took me over an hour sans flu to get to the summit and what a picturesque hour it was! The scenery across Wales, the pair of harriers that we watched circling for ages and the Hawk aircraft that zipped down the valley was almost like our own private show. The information boards boast of black grouse within the area but they are very secretive and best seen at dawn or dusk.
My big big big gripe on the path though is a good amount of puppy piles that inconsiderate and uncaring dog owners had failed to pick up. I am immensely for keeping areas accessible to dog walkers and this area is prime for an amazing walk with your dog (must be kept on the lead due to afore mentioned lambkins) but this area will be closed to dog walkers unless this issue is addressed. I do not recall seeing a dog bin within the car park area and perhaps this will encourage owners to do the honourable thing.
The summit stands at 554metres and boasts the remains of the Jubilee Tower, built to commemorate the golden jubilee of George 3rd in the highest location in the region. The somewhat phallic design of the monument coupled with the fact that he built it on the highest point of the highest most visible mountain somewhat indicates the size of dear King George's ego I fear. Unfortunately his marvellous erection was somewhat truncated during a storm and the ruins are all that remain.
Standing atop the ruin, closing my eyes, the peace that I could feel was immense. Only at the top of such a hill, out of prying public eyes and the hustle and bustle of life does the meaning of the term "silence is golden" truly take on meaning.
I sat, I closed my eyes, I listened to nothing, and truly felt relaxed.
Moel Famau is a designated area of natural beauty and part of the Offa's Dyke National trail. It is free to enter but car parking is a pound, essential for the maintenance of this grassland habitat.
Public transport runs from Mold and Ruthin to the bottom of the lane leading to Moel Famau, this would mean an additional 2 miles to walk to the base of the Offa's Dyke, although other paths are available for varying abilities. For further information on other trails please see the review by Markos.
Summary: gentle hill walking at its finest
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