Photographs by Bryan Wade
The day had started with a look at the map when I noticed a road down to Llanfair Dyffryn in the Vale of Clwyd from Llanarmon-yn-Ial. “Was it doable?” I asked myself: the middle section was a white road but it was worth a go I thought. The alternative would be to go up “the steps” across to Llandegla and then down from there. I’ll put it to the group over elevenses at Caergwrle and see what they say. At Caergwrle he weather was good but there still only three of us having tea by ten to eleven. Brian texted to say he had a cold and wouldn’t be joining us and then Dave P arrived. None of us had done the Llanarmon route but it looked a lot more interesting than the alternative so we all agreed to give it a try.
Bryan led off over the shoulder of Hope Mountain to Pontybodkin crossing the main road and up the climb (two chevrons) to Treuddyn. By this time we had settle into the pattern for the day: as each hill came I changed down to the lowest cog while the others surged past and we regrouped at the top. We continued on the narrow lanes down to Cae Gwyyd and up the other side (two chevrons) before emerging at Eryrys for a quick check of the map. It was southwest from here but with another climb (two chevrons) before dropping down to the River Alyn and into Llanarmon-yn-Ial. The new lane lay straight ahead and we climbed gradually up to the pass with a photo stop at the top looking over the Vale of Clwyd with dark clouds gathering overhead. Then within 50 yards we were descending on the white road (a rough track), great for mountain bikers but testing the bike handling skills of us roadies to the limit. Safely down the steep rough section we were soon back on a surfaced lane for a fast descent through biting hail to the valley bottom – great! A short ride to lunch at the White Horse in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd was followed by bitter disappointment when we discovered the pub was closed on Thursday lunchtimes. No problem; with Ruthin just up the road we set off at top speed and made for the first hostelry we could find. The Anchor Hotel did us proud with a wide range of meals for £5 a head and Young's ale on tap.
Photographs by Dave Pipe
It was already late when we set off into the town centre so that Clive could refill his wallet while the rest of us admired the townscape. Then we were back riding northeast on the lanes to reach Llanbedr Hall for another track up to the Woodland Trust site of Graham’s bench, a little quite contemplation and some photos. Leaving the tranquillity of the woodland behind we were soon struggling uphill on the lower slopes of Bwlch Penbarras where there were too many cars coming down for comfort. Two of us chose to walk the hairpin (only one chevron) before remounting round the bend to continue on to the summit at a steady pace. More photos at the top before Caffi Florence at Loggerheads beckoned and we started the fast descent. After coffee Dave decided to make his own way back “staying in the hills” he called it while we went up the nearest hill (one chevron) towards Cilcain. I had planned to cross the river at Maes-y-groes but my shouts from the back of “take the track on the right” went unheeded and it was Cilcain before we gained the other side with a climb up from the valley floor (one chevron), and the first sign of complaint from the troops. In truth it was all over: Gwernaffield-y-Waun, an easy climb up to Soughton, Buckley, Bilberry Wood and a nice descent down the Warren to the Cheshire plain at Broughton. It was getting on for 18.30pm when we arrived back in Chester after a superb day: it just doesn’t get better than that.
Nine chevrons of ascent (if you’ve been counting) but no doubles today.
See route map and/or gpx file download.