Sunday, August 19 – HorseShoe Pass – Llangollen

This morning I felt fit for anything after breakfast – except perhaps, the bill, which came to 16/9d for two, and we were in the usual kind of place, which, if it were in a CTC Handbook would have been about eleven shillings.  Well, one pays for experience, and in future we shall keep to the handbook.  Anyway we had a walk with my uncle, and in coming to the bikes I found mine punctured !   Seven minutes wasted.  It was 11.30 when we left, and crossing the Dee bridge we turned towards Llantysilio.  After following the Dee for one and a half miles, we turned towards the mountains.  Soon we were climbing, until, suddenly we came upon the path to Valle Crucis Abbey, which we decided to explore.  A great door was passed through and we stood facing a neatly clipped lawn, pillars up each side to the High Altar, before which are five stone coffins belonging to past Princes of Powys etc, one is dated about 1290.  This part of the Abbey is the site of an old Benedictine monastery, built about 950, but the present ruins are Cistercian and founded about 1200.  We wandered through Norman doorways, into the dormitory, onto the roof – everywhere in fact, even following a winding dark passage underground.

Coming out after about half an hour, we proceeded on, only to be interrupted by a little excursion to Eliseg’s Pillar, a round column eight feet high, standing on a mound, beneath where, a stone coffin bearing a human skeleton was recently found.  It was erected in the year 607 after the battle of Bangor Isycoed.  Its Welsh name is Llwyn-y-Groes.  A brass plate on it tells of its reinstatement by Mr Lloyd of Trevor Hall in 1779 after it had been knocked down by Cromwell’s men who thought it was a Popish symbol.  Anyway, to get on with the story, we started to climb in a valley.  Soon our coats came off, and with sleeves rolled up we plodded towards the hills.  Just to show how fickle the weather is, in ten minutes a mountain drizzle came upon us, and into the capes we went.  Soon we came in sight of the Horseshoe which is the road resembling the above.  Below us we saw Llangollen, clustered in a vale with the Berwyns forming a beautiful background.

The Eglwyseg rocks stretched round on the left like a chain of limestone, cut and hacked.  It was a beautiful scene, peaceful and sublime. The rain cleared and again the sun came out, flooding the drenched hills in a welcome warmth.  The air became as clear as crystal whilst the rest of the climb to the head of the Pass became easy, and soon we stood on the summit 1,353ft high.  I can hardly describe the magnificent panorama that lay before us.  An undulated, wooded land with Llandegla and a few hamlets scattered about stretched 400ft below, and beyond was a rolling mass of heathery moorland.  Westward a higher jumble of rocky peaks stood out clearly defined, range after range until it terminated in a haze.  And winding, twisting in and out, now disappearing, reappearing, climbing, dropping, ran the road, beloved of all real wayfarers.  Then we dropped swiftly, climbed again, and we stopped opposite the Crown Inn.

Inside we met some Warrington Wheelers at lunch.  A look inside the visitors book revealed a host of known clubs and names in the cycling world, including ‘Wayfarer’, W.P.Cook and such clubs as the Anfield BC, CTC, NCU, etc.  Anyway, we ate a hearty lunch in an old fashioned place, leaving at 3pm.  The road climbed slightly until it reached the elevated position of 1,114ft, from where it almost continually drops for eight miles.  It was a fine moorland way, not too good, not too steep.  Heather and gorse grew profusely, and we had ever in view splendid views of the Dee valley, the Wirral and we could even see Frodsham and Helsby hills in the low lying Cheshire district.  Rhydtalog was soon passed and at Leeswood we passed through a lovely glen.

Beyond Hope, we ran into the main Holywell road near to Broughton, and soon reached Chester.  It was a toss up whether we had tea at Chester or Mickle Trafford or Sutton Weaver, and after some debate we decided to push on to the latter.  Helsby and Frodsham behind us, we soon reached the cottage at Sutton Weaver, where a hearty welcome awaited us at 7pm.  We left at 7.45, and after Daresbury we skirted Warrington, coming to Latchford for Thelwall.  A bylane brought us into Lymm from where we took the lanes via Heatley, Carrington, Urmston and Barton for 9.15pm.  After lighting up we parted, each decided that it has been a glorious weekend.  I got home at 10.15pm.

85 miles, 13 hours

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