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A night at Llyn Rhys Campsite, Llandegla

Camping, for me, is done in a tent which can be stuffed  in a rucksack and pitched in a field or woods with basic (if any!) facilities.  This time I was to be camping in the Vango Woburn 500.
There’s always room for comfort.
Well no, that’s not entirely true. There’s not much room for anything when you drive an Abarth 124!
First mission was to find a way of getting a tent, sleeping bag, mat, Jetboil, change of clothes and walking boots in the car. The solution was a Boot-Bag.

This is a large waterproof bag that sits on the boot lid and securely held in place with webbing straps.
I had the ‘original’ which gave me  50 litres of space or, put another way, it easily took the tent.
On first use, I was apprehensiveBoot-bag on Abarth 124 Spider about putting too much in there, however, I could have stuffed a few extra things in there without any trouble.
The other stuff went in to my large rucksack.
My day sack was also loaded in to the boot. I’d be using it to hold a couple of drinks, waterproofs etc for the two walks I had planned.
In retrospect, perhaps just the smaller rucksack may have been better with everything else stuffed around the  boot and Boot-Bag.
I had no seating (the floor would have to do) and no food (I hoped there would be a table free in the pub) but I had my accommodation and a bed for the night.

The Boot-Bag was slightly lopsided but seemed secure enough as I pulled off my drive and carefully made my way to the motorway, getting used to only using wing mirrors as there was zero visibility out of the back.   As I gained more confidence in the Boot-Bag, I increased the speed, it remained stable and I arrived at the camp with everything intact.
I had booked my spot at Llyn Rhys Campsite on their website.  £8 per person per night (as of July 2018) which included use of the showers. Kids cost just £3.
I was met by the friendly owner and given a choice of places to pitch, anywhere I wanted as long as I left 6 meters between my tent and others. I wanted to be as far away from others as possible , that wouldn’t be a problem!
The site was fairly quiet. I’d arrived a week before the school summer holiday started, I suspect it can get a lot busier.  I drove my car down the track in to the large field I pitched up on the side of the field, close to the stream. I didn’t want to venture too far from the track in my rear wheel drive car!

The tent had been pitched in the garden a coupe of times, the first time, just after getting the tent home, resulted in part of a fibreglass pole snapping. After an email to Vango another pole was posted out to me.
Needless to say, Vango don’t send out poles every time one beaks, however, I argued that they should last at least one pitching and, fair enough, they agreed.
Out in the real world, the tent went up relatively quickly, although the little hooks to attached the ground sheet were a bit awkward to fit.
I think Vango say it will take 15 minutes to pitch. Seems a little optimistic to me but perhaps with more practice.

The tent is described as 5 person, I wouldn’t like to fit more than three in there. The Cotswold Outdoors promotional video describes it as a good tent for couples and young families, which seems more accurate.
There’s lots of room in the bright, airy living area. Plenty of space for a couple of chairs. Shame there wasn’t the room in the car!
Comparing it with many of the other tents on site, it did look dinky!
Vango Woburn 500 tentWith the tent up it was time to head out on a walk.
Leaving the campsite, I  headed up to the road junction next to the Crown Hotel Pub. Continuing virtually straight ahead on the A5104, the path started just after the junction to the right. This path was quite well signposted  until I reached a farmers field. Whatever had been growing here had been recently dug up and the route across the field to the road wasn’t clearly defined.
At the road I took a left, before rejoining the same field higher up. There were no signs here either and at the end, it was almost impassable. A large, over grown, prickly hedge hid a fence with no easy way to climb.  If it wasn’t for the large footpath sign at the other side of the hedge, I would not have realised this was the route.

The next path I wanted should have been straight over the road according to the Ordnance Survey map and my GPS but there was nothing obvious so I decided to follow the road back in to the village.
The village has a great little community run shop and cafe, at the front was all the supplies you need for camping, pasties, scotch eggs, wine, jam etc and at the back is the cafe. I just had a cafetiere of coffee but the food looked good.
Offas Dyke sign in LlandeglaHappily caffeined up, I left the cafe for the second loop on this walk. After the poorly maintained paths on the first loop, I decided to take the Offa’s Dyke section at the end  knowing it would be the easiest part of the route to navigate.
I needn’t have worried. This walk was also well signed and I followed it up to the narrow road. From there it’s an easy walk back along the Offa’s Dyke to the village.
Both loops of the walks are available in on one GPX file, downloadable from Viewranger.

Back in the tent, I got changed ready for dinner. It is nice being able to stand up in any part of the tent, something you don’t get with the backpacking one and two person tents!
The Crown Hotel is a short walk from the campsite and serves real ales, wines and has a good whisky collection along with the usual stuff and the food is fantastic!!
I started with the spicy chicken wings. Main course was a perfectly rare steak with chips  and peas. Their monster of a  mixed grill looked and smelt great and, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, they’ve a good choice of deserts and local ice cream.

Suitably fed and watered, I walked back to the tent where I took down the divider to make one large bedroom,  got in to my sleeping bag and settled down for a reasonable nights sleep.
The Vango has a slightly darker bedroom, while not a black out, it did a reasonable job at keeping the morning light out.
Next morning the tent was moisture free, the vents under the main window had done their job. I opened the ‘curtains’ sat in the porch, fired up the jet boil and made a coffee.  The tent is really bright and airy with plenty of large windows. A very pleasant place to be.
Packing up was easy and (amazingly!) everything fitted in and on the car.  The first rule of any camping, ‘leave no trace’!

Breakfast was taken at One Planet Adventure, just up the road. Already the car park was filling up. I paid my £4.50 and  made my way to the overflow car park.
The breakfasts at their cafe are good and the slices of toast are huge!!

I was one of the odd ones, I wasn’t cycling, instead I took the longest of their walking trails, the well marked ,7 mile Moorland trail.
Moorland Trail route One Planet Adventure Llandegla

A pleasant walk through woodland and offering great views.

So, in conclusion…..I love to be miles from anyone and anywhere with a small backpacking tent. This was quite different but still a great trip although I must admit the very un-British sunny, warm weather helped make this such a pleasurable camp!
I’m looking forward to getting out in the Vango again soon….but maybe after a trip in the smaller tent 🙂

Misty Minera Mines

I was nearing the end of my week off work.
The first walk I had done during my annual leave was lovely. Blue skies, sunshine and fantastic views. This walk however was a complete contrast.

I parked up for free at the Minera Mines car park, an interesting open access site containing an the remains of the old mine. Amazingly, despite being about 35 minutes drive from my house, I’ve never been here before and only discovered it by accident looking at an OS Map on my laptop.

Misty MinesIt was very misty when I got out of the car and headed up towards the old mine which had stood on this site since 1845.
The remains looked imposing in the mist which suited the scene.
The first written record of lead mining at Minera dates back to 1296, however it wasn’t until 1845, when a steam engine was built, that the Minera Mining Company was created.
Sadly, by 1900, the price of lead  had fallen while the costs of running the steam engine rose and by 1914 the mine had closed.

Face in the treeAnother piece of history around here is the old disused railway line which now forms a pleasant footpath but was once part of the line between Wrexham and  Brymbo.
Funnily enough, like my last walk, this path also took me past a disused quarry, once once the largest lime workings in the north of Wales.
The path skirted along the northern side of the quarry before I turned right to join the quiet, narrow road to Llandegla Forest.
Although primarily geared up for cyclists,  a number of footpaths criss-cross the forest and it’s well worth downloading the walking map from their website.

I took the Reservoir trail initially, up to and around part of the Pendinas Reservoir. From there, I joined the Black Grouse trail. The end of this trail was easy to spot!

Black grouse trail Llandegla

The paths through Llandegla are well marked and easy to follow, however, I was about to leave the dense woodland and onto the misty moor beyond.
All went well initially, two finger pointers marked where two routes split and I headed off to the right along a clearly defined (albeit narrow) path . Soon, however, this path disappeared.  In front of me was water and boggy ground. I put my left foot down in to a stream nothing too deep….then my right leg plunged in to  knee high icy water. It soaked through my boots, gaiters and trousers. As I backtracked, my left leg went in to deeper water.
Misty moorsI returned to dry land and checked my map, compass and GPS. Yes this was the route I wanted but I couldn’t see a way through that wouldn’t require a flotation device!
Consulting the map, this path followed parallel to the water course for some distance – that would not be pleasant on a cold, misty January day!
There was another possible route about 200 metres to the East.
I made my way over the boggy ground until I hit  another obvious path going in the right direction. I followed before it too disappeared.
There is nowhere as lonely as  a misty, featureless moor with no obvious path and little viability. I knew I wanted to head south towards the road. I was armed with map and compass but (sorry purists ) I was very grateful for my GPS as a picked my way through.

Esclusham Mountain.Eventually, I hit the road, it was nice to feel tarmac under my extremely wet feet.
I took a left, following the road until a crossroads of paths and roads. I had a route back whichever way I went but continued on the path straight on.
This also followed moorland but the path was slightly easier to follow.  Again, there were a couple of routes further along; one down Minera Mountain or the one I took to Esclusham Mountain.

 

RubbishFrom the trig point, I descended Esclusham to the road, where I walked East along the  back towards where I had parked the car.
The weather was still very misty and there was little in the way of views…apart from litter. Surprising considering it was a quiet, single track there was a lot of rubbish, even more surprising was the car radio I found left on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

I soon grew bored of walking along the road, so turned off to my right following a footpath through a farm. I reached a muddy area containing a feeder surrounded by sheep and a lama!
Cows blocking the path
The stile is behind her bum!

Their field led to another far, far, far muddier field. I assumed that this field contained cows, however, I couldn’t see any.
I made extremely slow progress through this quagmire before discovering the cows.
They were standing in a group, in the corner, right opposite the stile…a sneaky climb over the fence was required!

From here, it was an easy walk back to the Country Park where I had left my car.
I trudged the final stretch. I was cold, wet and extremely muddy.
This walk came at the end of a week off walk and was in complete contrast to the first walk of the holiday.  I really like the country park and will be returning and I’m sure this route would be nice in the summer but, I definitely don’t recommend it on a cold, wet, misty day!

Download the route as a GPX file

The Pendinas reservoir

9.30am, Sunday, the sun is out and a quick decision on what to do with the day is required.
It ended up as  a case of putting a pin in a map then a route was quickly drawn up and I headed to Llandegla Forest.

After the turn off from the main road, the route to the car park is a singe track road with passing places which lead me to believe that I’d be pulling up in a small car park perhaps containing a little hut  selling snacks….how wrong I was – the place is vast!
Not only that, it was extremely busy. Where everyone went, however, I don’t know, a few yards from the car and I hardy saw another person.

Worlds EndThe area is predominantly for cyclists but there are lots of footpaths for walkers and, on the whole the two are kept separate.

There are four signed trails;

  • orange at 2.5 miles around the reservoir,
  • black grouse/purple at 2 miles,
  • turquoise intermediate at 2 miles
  • the brown long route at 7 miles.

I started on the brown route, following it to the spruce plantation then took a left where it crosses the Offa’s Dyke path. This path goes through heather on a narrow path, occasionally on wooden planks.

Footpath

When this path comes out to a road, take a right and follow it along to World’s End. It’s a quiet road so you shouldn’t see much traffic.

Just after a river passes over the road, it takes a sharp bend, this is where you leave the road and get back on to the Offa’s Dyke footpath.

This path does become quite narrow with quite a steep rocky drop to the right hand side but offers some great views.

Leave the Offa’s Dyke by taking a path down to the right hand side through woodland, this can be quite difficult to spot.
The path drops down on to a road below but you’ll soon leave the road, taking a path to the left which climbs to Eglwyseg Glen.

The route continues through fields, follow this and you will briefly join the Clwydian Way, however when this forks to the left, keep to the right.
ViewsWhen reaching a track heading towards the phone mast,cross the road and the path continues virtually directly opposite. It’s quite difficult to find initially but easy enough to follow once on it.
Once this reaches the road, take it to the right, eventually taking a right back in to the Llandegla forest.
Follow the Clwydian Way back to the crossroads with the ‘brown path’, the path on the right leads back to the car park.

There’s nothing better after a long walk than a decent cuppa and the coffee served up in theLlandegla cafe cetrainly didn’t disapoint.  Unfortunately the kitchen was closed by the time I got back but the cakes looked good (and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth at all!) There is also a vast array of energy bars and gels.

All in all, a great day and I’ll definetely return, will have to try out some of the bike trails.
At the time of writting, all day car parking is £4.50
For more information, visit their website: http://coedllandegla.com/

Download a copy of the route

 

 

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