The Trelawnyd and Gwaenysgor Millenium Trail
This walk is taken from “Walking with History” by Roger Hadley which contains seven other walks within the network of paths covered by the Trail all of which describe the historical features you will come across on the way – for a copy of the guide, £5.00, ring Dave Smith on (01745) 571085.
Follow the blue discs!
Each of the stiles or kissing gates used is referred to by the initial letters of the walk (e.g. Main Trail = MT) and a number corresponding to numbers on the relevent map. These are marked by blue discs. For example, where the Main Trail from Trelawnyd to Gwaenysgor leaves the road and passes through the first kissing gate, this is marked by the blue disc, MT1.
This walk is about one and three quarter miles long
Start in Trelawnyd from the high Street Car Park.Turn right up the high street and follow the road up the hill and out of the village. The last house but one in the village, on your left, is the former Wesleyan Chapel.
Carry on a short distance until you come to a kissing gate on your left, MT1. Go through this gate.Follow the arrow up the hill to another kissing gate, disc MT2, in the stone wall in front of you. The walls marks the boundary between the parishes of Trelawnyd and Gwaenysgor.
Go through the gate. Gop Wood is on your left. For the Main Trail to Gwaenysgor follow the direction of the arrow down the hill, alongside the wall between the field and Gop Wood. (ignore the permissive footpath to Gop Cairn on the top of Gop Hill which starts here, on the other side of a kissing gate. On this section of the Trail you have a magnificent view to the north of the fine Elizabethan manor house of Golden Grove and its gardens on the other side of the valley below you.
There is evidence of settlement here going back to Neolithic times. The house was mentioned in the Domesday book as Ulversgrave, which it has been suggested may have meant ‘Wolves Grove’. The present house dated from 1578. From the 16th-19th century Golden Grove belonged to the Morgan family. About 300 yards down the hill, where the wood comes to an end, you will find the next kissing gate, MT3, let into the stone wall on your left.
Go through this gate and down a steep bank into the next field. On the horizon ahead of you is the village of Gwaenysgor.
The Trail runs north westwards, alongside Gop Wood for about 50 yards and then turns into the wood itself through a kissing gate, blue disc MT4, let into the hedge next to a farm gate.
Inside the wood follow the track from the gate to the right for a short distance and then to the left for about 30 yards up the hillside. At this point, follow the direction arrows, turn right off the path leading up the hill, into another track or ‘ride’ which leads down the hillside some 400 yards or so to the next kissing gate, blue disc MT5. Pass through this gate.
Today Gop Wood belongs to Golden Grove Estate. Until1804, when the commons and wastes of the parish were enclosed the whole area was part of the commons of Gwaenysgor where commoners could graze their stock and collect fuel. It is unlikely that there would have been many trees there at the time.
Continue to follow the track down the side of the wood. A short distance further on you will reach a further kissing gate, blue disc MT6, behind the buildings of Carn Ychain Farm. Passing through this gate you will see a sign post in front of you. As this post indicates, the Main Trail turns right at this point and goes through the farmyard and down the lane beyond. (the other track, on your left, is the Main Trail Link which continues round the bottom of Gop Wood towards Gop Farm. See note at end of walk 1).
Carn Ychain farm is another ancient settlement and was described in the Domesday book in 1086 as Cancarcan. It has been suggested that the name derives from ‘Cairn’(the cairn on the top of Gop Hill) and ‘Uchan’, an old personal name, or ‘Ychen’, Oxen. This is still a working farm today.
Pant Y Coed Wood
Follow the lane below the farm for about a quarter of a mile until it dips steeply down the hillside to join the Meliden-Llanasa road at the valley bottom, on the edge of Pant y Coed Wood
Pant Y Coed Wood in local legend is the sight of a civil war skirmish between Royalists and Parliamentarians in the 1640’s. Part of the area, now under trees, was previously known as the Field of Bones because, it was said, when it was ploughed human remains would come to the surface. Some local people claim that on a dark night the passer-by can still sometimes hear the clash of swords. However, there seems to be no firm evidence from any documentary source to support the story that there was a battle at this place.
The more recent history of the area as a site of lead mining, in contrast, is well attested and the head of one of the old shafts can still easily be seen to the north of the road to Llanasa, A few hundred yards east from the point where the lane from Carn Ychain joins it.
To continue on the Trail to Gwaenysgor turn left on the Meliden-Llanasa road and walk for about 75 yards until you reach a flight of steps up a steep bank on your right. Climb these steps and go through the kissing gate, MT7, at the top.
The Trail goes diagonally across the centre of this field which rises above you, as indicated by the direction of the arrow on the gatepost. If the field has recently been ploughed and the path is indistinct, follow the direction of the arrow, make for a lone tree in the hedge on the horizon. When you reach this follow the hedge along to the left. You will see the next kissing gate, blue disc, MT8, in the corner of the field ahead of you.
Go through this gate:Following the direction of the arrow on the gate you will see the next kissing gate, blue disc MT9, across the field ahead of you with the lower end of the village of Gwaenysgor behind it. On the Gwaenysgor side of this gate you will find yourself standing on the remains of a Tumulus. This was probably a Bronze Age burial mound. There are signs in the hollow on the north side that the site has been excavated but nothing is known about what, if anything, was found.
There are many such tumulii in both Gwaenysgor and Trelawnyd parishes indicating considerable activity in the area in the bronze age but here, as is so often the case with this period, it has not yet been possible to trace any kinds of settlement
The Trail continues from here in a westerly direction across the field to the facing right hand corner and the last of the kissing gates, blue disc, MT10, on the inter-village path. Go through the kissing gate, which is beside a farm gate, onto the road.
You have now arrived at the southern end of the village of Gwaenysgor. Facing you on the other side of the road is Ty Isa Farm, one of the oldest buildings in the village. Please take great care on this road and the stretch leading up to the village as there is no sidewalk. Ty Isa Farm is a Grade 11 listed building which is described in the original listing as ‘said to be about 1650’. Subsequent assessments have suggested that there are remnants of a medieval building within the house. There are two wall sundials at first floor level on the house, one dated 1734 and the other giving longitude and latitude.
The Tythe Wars
The farm was the scene of an incident in the ‘Tithe Wars’ of the 1880’s. Farmers at that time were objecting to the level of taxes (the tithe0 which they had to pay to the established Church of England. There was an agricultural depression and in many places the local vicar or rector refused to abate the level of payment. Where farmers refused to pay the tithes, the church authorities sent in bailiffs to distrain property. In 1889 the villagers of Gwaenysgor joined together to thwart the bailiff on each of three visits he made to its farms. At Ty Isa he was invited into the farmhouse only to find himself locked into a room. He was later rescued by a policeman who got him out through a window but he then came under a hail of stones thrown be villagers and had to retreat hastily to Rhyl in his pony and trap. Immediately next door to Ty Isa on the road up into the village is another old house, itself formally a farm, Ty Ucha.
Ty Ucha Farm
This is also a listed 17th century building. Amongst its many interesting features is a room on the first floor looking out on the church, known to generations of inhabitants of the house as The Room of the Cross. The barn to the north of the farm house is also 17th century.Follow the road on up the hill into the centre of the village where you will find a small green, an interpretive notice board erected by the village’s Conservation Group, and a comfortable seat. End of the outward walk from Trelawnyd via Carn Ychain Farm.
To return to Trelawnyd you can either return by the same route or take the road sout out of Gwaenysgor and return by Gop Farm. Please note that the Gop Farm Route uses stiles throughout and has no kissing gates. If you take this route please take great care on the stretch of road from Gwaenysgor to the first stile as there is no sidewalk and the road is sometimes very busy.
Return to Trelawnyd by Gop Farm(about one and a half miles; 2.4km) Follow the road south from Gwaenysgor going straight over the cross roads outside the village. After a further 300 yards or so you will reach a stile, blue disc MT11, on the left of the road. Cross this stile into the field beyond.
Gwaenysgor Bone Caves
In the scrub facing you is the sit of the former entrance to the Gwaenysgor Bone Caves, first discovered in the late nineteenth century by a mining engineer and rediscovered in 1910 by Henry Hughes, a Gwaenysgor miner and quarryman, when blowing up a fox’s lair for a local farmer. He and subsequent investigators have found the bones of several pleistocene animals including bison,reindeer, Irish elk, hyena, woolly rhinoceros and arctic lemming. The cave was shown to the public for a number of years before being closed as unsafe.
Follow the direction arrow on the stile to the next stile, blue disc MT12, in the dip below you and cross this stile.Make for the next stile at the top of the field which is just to the left of the farm buildings you can see on the horizon. On your left, part of the way up this field, you can see the remains of Fynnon Wen.
Fynnon Wen (White Well)
This is said to be an ancient well whose waters had medicinal powers. In the eighteenth century the Wynne family who lived nearby in a house on the site of Gop Farm, used the pool as a bathing place. The site is on private land and not open to the public.
At the top of the field cross the stile,blue disc MT13. At this point the path from Carn Ychain Farm to Gop Farm, the Main Trail Link, joins your path from the left. The entrance to the Main Trail Link here is not through the locked gate leading into Gop Wood but on the path a few yards below the gate. The Main Trail to Trelawnyd, however, is the footpath in front of you leading up the hillside on the left of Gop Farm.
Cross the stile facing you, blue disc MT14 and follow the path past Gop Farm and its Dovecote.
Gop Farm and the Dovecote
This is the site of the residence of John Wynne, the founder of Newmarket, (now Trelawnyd). The present house dates from some time in the eighteenth century, after his death in 1712. The dovecote, which stands just north of the farm, was possibly built in the late sixteenth century. The crows feet or stepped construction on the gables was introduced into North Wales by Sir Richard Clough of Denbigh in the 1560’s. It would have housed some 700 to 900 birds (pigeons or doves) which then provided a ready supply of meat and eggs.
Take the path which runs along the side of the hill, keeping above the level of the Dovecote, for about half a mile, making for the edge of Trelawnyd village. Cross the stile, MT15, in the stone wall ahead of you. The path leads into a lane back into the High Street and the Car Park.
End of Main Trail from Gwaenysgor to Trelawnyd, via Gop Farm Carn Ychain Farm-Gop Farm Path
Main Trail link
This is marked by two royal blue discs.
As noted, a path running along the bottom of the north west side of Gop Woods links these two farms and allows variations on the route suggested for the Main Trail. The path is about a quarter of a mile long. There are two stiles. Access at the Carn Ychain end is described at blue disc MT6 and at the Gop end at blue disc MT13.