Although overcast and a little windy on the ride out to Hawarden the omens for the day were favourable. I had come with a route to The Blue Lion Inn at Cwm, having checked the previous evening that they would be open and serving food. By 10:30 a small band of seven were ready to leave and with no other suggestions the default destination of Cwm was agreed even though no one knew were it was!
With the group comprising Martin, Liz D, Dave H, Ivan and Dave & Liz P, I led out along the B road taking the direct route to Northop. Within a few minutes Ivan was alongside. “I’ve left my reading glasses at the café” he says. “I’m going back to get them and I’ll catch you up. Are you going along the A55?” “No” I reply, “We’re going straight over the Halkyns”. “Brave choice” is the comment from someone behind and Ivan decides to collect the glasses on the way back.
In Northop we take the left at The Green and start the climb up to the Blue Bell. At the top the views across the Wirral to Liverpool are magnificent and I get to wondering what it must have been like for the kids watching their home city being bombed while billeted out to families up here during the war. Then we continue west across the moorland through Windmill and Brynford to Gorsedd where, aware of the time and the need to get back in daylight, I shorten the route by taking in a short section of the A5151. The best bit starts as we turn off the main road to take the narrow lane past Llyn Helyg and on to Cwm where on the final descent we are rewarded with a spectacular view across the Vale of Clwyd to Snowdonia.
The Blue Lion proves to be the pub ‘find of the year’. A warming open fire and an even warmer landlady to greet us. Marston’s bitter on tap and an excellent choice of food from light snacks to a three course lunch for £10. This is definitely one for future visits. A very well run pub that deserves to succeed.
Photograph by Martin Donaldson
All too soon it was 14:00 and time for us to leave. We dropped down to the Dyserth to Rhuallt road and contoured along the side of the Vale of Clywd stopping to take in the views: not forgetting a photo. The back lane out of Rhuallt started steeply up to the A55 footbridge and continued upwards thereafter. Halfway up Dave P gets a call. It’s from the Landlady of The Blue Lion to say they have found his wallet. The thought of going back and doing the hills again is just too much, so Dave wisely decides to drive back in his car later in the day after returning home. We continue on to Babell where I surprise the group by taking the narrow undulating track to Lixwm. At Pentre the notorious entrance to the farm track is even muddier than the last time I did this section so we take the alternative route to Rhes-y-cae instead, before the climb over Moel-y-crio. With the hills behind us now we descend quickly to Rhosemor and Northop where with darkness coming on we hurry on towards Hawarden to make it back by 16:30.
What a wonderful day: 43 miles done or 58 for those cycling from Chester.