Bryneglwys to The Grouse and back (8.2 miles)
The nearest pub to Bryneglwys is 3.4 miles away by foot, the most direct route being half on tarmac and half via fields and a forest. That route is detailed in a different article. This article looks at a slightly longer route that tracks up behind the village to where the Open Access Land begins, then follows the modern Clwydian Way as it joins the ancient Clwydian Way and on to The Grouse Inn at Carrog. As three-quarters of the walk is the same as the 6.8 mile version, much of the text below is copied from that article (by the same author) to save time.
As with the shorter route, the walk only has one slightly challenging section: the long and fairly steep forest path directly behind The Grouse, which needs to be climbed on the return leg of the walk (unless you opt to return via the road). The Grouse Inn is a traditional family pub with a large covered patio overlooking the River Dee. Because of its idilic setting, it is very popular with visitors and tourists on sunny weekends, but food is served all day long, so if you time your walk to miss the midday rush, you shouldn’t have to wait long to be served.
And we're off...
The walk begins at Bryneglwys war memorial in the centre of the village. Immediately next to the memorial is a narrow lane that tracks uphill in a south-easterly direction - take it. This leads to the old vicarage and as you get closer to the house, note the stream on your right. Somewhere along here, it is written, was sited one of the country's earliest hydroelectric generators, which provided electricity to light St Tysilio Church, the building that gives the village its name (Bryn means 'hill' in Welsh, and Eglwys means 'church').
Although you are following a public footpath at the moment, please be respectful of the privacy of the residents of the old vicarage. Keep to the right of their driveway and quietly walk a few yards beyond it and to the right, to a tall gate under the trees. Go through the gate and up the hill to your right, keeping roughly central to the field. Go through the tractor-sized gap in the middle of the opposite hedge-line, and then track up through the next field on its right-hand side. Go through the gate or over the stile in the far right corner of the field, and turn right onto the Bryneglwys/Glyndyfrdwy road. Walk up past Ty-Newydd farm and across the cattle-grid onto the Open Access Land. Now turn right and follow a sometimes muddy track to the south-west (shown above looking back towards Bryneg).
Keep next to, or within sight of, the boundary fencing between the private and open lands. After about a mile from the cattle-grid, having crossed a stream in a gulley, and passed through a few open gates, the path splits ahead of you. It doesn't matter which way you go, as long as you end up at a modern gate which is either to the right of the left path (shown below), or to the left of the right path.
Look for the white Llangollen Round waymarker disc on the gate's hinge-post. Go through this gate and head round and down to the right, all the way down to the Brynelglwys/Carrog road. The tractor tracks here are very muddy, so you'll be better off walking down atop the bank on the right of the track. Once through the bottom gate and onto the road, turn left and walk 40 yards or so along the road to a small metal gate on your left, next to a bridal-way signpost (shown below).
Go through this gate and head up the field and to your right, aiming for the nearest group of trees roughly in the centre of your horizon. Just past these trees and round the corner is a wooden gate and style - this marks the start of the ancient part of the Clwydian Way drover's path, with trees lining the trail all the way to Bwlch Coch (red gap). Just keep within the two lines of trees and you can't go wrong. The path can become a little overgrown in the summer, and patches of tall nettles are best negotiated in trousers, not shorts, but a regular footfall of walkers ensures that a visible path through the overgrown parts of the trail can always be found. As you pass the stone ruins of drover's huts and overnight sheep pens, you'll realise that you're treading a route that pre-dates most of the roads that make up the modern highway system. The peace and tranquility of nature envelops you as buzzards circle overhead and kites swoop low down in the valley to your right; for you are in the heart of the North Wales countryside now, far from busy roads and towns.
As you emerge from the ancient tree-lined section of the Clwydian Way, go through or over the gate ahead and keep to the left of the dilapidated dry-stone wall as it bends round to the left. Go though or over the first gate that you come to on your right, and walk towards the Dee Valley that should be opening up before you. If the weather is calm, stop and take in the silence for a moment - few places we know are quite this quiet. You'll likely hear the whistle of a steam train every now and then, and buzzards calling to each other across the valley sides, but other than that the silence is deafening. Look for the top of a Chestnut tree poking up from the field's horizon, and head towards it (shown below). Note the naturally-formed seat of rock below this tree, for this is where you'll take a break in a few hour's time. For now though, walk past the tree and down the path to the stile on the edge of the forest before you.
If this part of the hillside had a name, it would be called Silver-Oak Down, for growing out of the lush ferns all around you are hundreds of silver birch and oak trees, forming a high canopy and offering tantalising glimpses of the River Dee below and to your left. As you descend down the soft, loamy path, know that lunch and a cool pint of lager or Guinness is only minutes away now. Take care during the last short downhill section as it is steep and slippy underfoot where so many people have climbed before you in search of the views by the Chestnut tree. As you emerge from the path, the beer garden of the Grouse Inn (shown below) invites you to stop and take in the majestic River Dee in all its glory. Enjoy your lunch.
Before you leave the Grouse, psyche yourself up for the climb back up through the forest, and buy a bar of chocolate as an incentive to enjoy when you reach the top. If you're lacking the will-power to make the climb, you have the option of returning to Bryneg via the Bryneg/Carrog road. To do so, leave the pub via its front door, turn right, and follow the main road west through Carrog until you come to the church and school. Follow the road to the right of the church and left of the school, through what looks a farmer's yard, and onwards to Bryneg. Whilst taking the road avoids the 'big climb', the route is longer, there are still plenty of smaller hills to climb, and since when has walking on tarmac been anything like as satisfying as a peaceful hilltop walk with a fantastic view?
Assuming you've bitten the bullet and chosen the shorter route, retrace your steps up the hill and find the rock-seat by the Chestnut tree. Enjoy the views and your chocolate treat - you've earned it. At this point you'll be wondering how you can possibly find the energy to make it back to Bryneg, but worry not, for after the next short climb through the field behind you, it's all more-or-less gently downhill to Bryneglwys, which is far more easy-going in its entirety than the steep climb you just made.
Retrace your route through the ancient Clwydian Way, and head down the hill to the gate onto the Bryneg/Carrog road (shown above). From here, turn right and stay on the road all the way back to Bryneglwys. This road is only used by residents and farm traffic, so on a weekend it is quite normal not to see a single vehicle or person all the way to the village, only sheep, horses, cattle and buzzards.
If you complete this walk, please let us know what you think of it in the comments section below.