The Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a protected area located in the north east of Wales. The AONB largely consists of a narrow ridge of undulating hills (the Range) stretching some 35km southwards from the coastal town of Prestatyn. The area covers approximately 160 square kilometres and rises to a height of 554 metres at Moel Famau in the centre of the Range. Most of the AONB lies within the county of Denbighshire, with a smaller area in Flintshire.
The richness of the landscape comes from a combination of undulating upland, including open heather clad moors and rocky outcrops, gently rolling farmland and wooded valleys. The area is blessed with extensive views in all directions. Attractive hedgerows, stone walls and a number of picturesque small villages add to the striking visual appeal.
The varied geology, topography and past land management practice within the area has resulted in a rich and varied geodiversity and biodiversity. This includes the heather moorland with its distinct range of bird life including grouse, stonechat and whinchat. There are numerous sites within the AONB that are of high nature conservation value including eight Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSS1), one Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Regionally Important Geodiversity Sites (RIGS) and Nature Reserves (NR).
The rich landscape of the Clwydian Range is the result of geological processes acting over 500 million years. The landscape of heather-clad uplands, ice-carved valleys, rocky limestone, rolling farmland and wooded valleys are a unique and spectacular resource. The area has been influenced by human hands for thousands of years. The Range contains Early Stone Age sites and many Bronze Age burial monuments.
The Iron Age hillforts which crown the Range, are the most obvious and best known archaeological features of the area. Their function, both defensive and as sites of display, probably varied from controlling centres for territories stretching down the Clwydian Range, across the Vale and up into the hills beyond, to tribal gathering places and summer grazing or sites of ritual.
Craig Fawr over Prestatyn : The Clwydian Range starts in the north on the coast at Prestatyn where limestone based geology has played a central role in shaping the landscape. In this image, the ancient carboniferous limestone outcrop of Craig Fawr dominates over the town of Prestatyn. Craig Fawr along with Moel Hiraddug (another limestone outcrop) are easily accessible from Penisar Mynydd Caravan Park and provide a lovely walk.
Rolling hills of the northern Clwydians : the northern Clwydian Hills are characterised by rolling heather covered hills that provide stunning views down to the North Wales coast and down into the Vale of Clwyd. Navigating is easy as the long distance path, Offa's Dyke, follows the course of the hills and is sign-posted along the way.
Iron-Age Forts : one of the most striking aspects of the Clwydian Hills is that they contain the very visible remain of six iron-age forts. In this image, the remains of one of these forts can be seen distinctly encircling the summit of Moel Arthur. This image is looking north from Moel Llys-y-coed over Moel Arthur towards the north Wales coast at Prestatyn. All these areas are readily accessible from Penisar Mynydd.
Looking south : In contrast to the previous image that was looking north, this image is looking south across Coed Llangwyfan towards the highest point in the Clwydian Hills, notably Moel Arthur.
Moel Dywyll : this image is once again looking north towards Moel Dywyll and shows the predominantly heather uplands, and the occassional dry stone wall. Navigation here is simple as the Clwydian Hills are essentially a ridgeline of hills with the path along the summits very clearly way marked.
Moel Famau : Standing at 554 metres, Moel Famau is the highest point in the Clwydian Range. It is easily recognisable given the presence on its summit of the Jubilee Tower, an iconic monument visible from all directions, and a wonderful outlook across North Wales and North West England.
Easy Navigation : navigation in the Clwydian Hills is relatively straight forward given the hills are essentially a ridge of rounded summits. It is also helped given an abundance of way marked posts. Lastly, the long distance path, Offa's Dyke, follows the summits of the hills so there is plenty of opportunity to get your bearings. Having said this, a good OS map is always recommended.
Limestone scenery : to the south of Moel Famau (in the distance in this image), the landscape once again become dominated by the underlying limestone geology. In this image, the typical limestone pavement at Bryn Alyn (near the town of Mold) shows the typical characteristics of exposed limestone.
Eglwyseg Escarpment : the southern reaches of the Clwydian Hills are dominated by the stunning limestone escarpment of Eglwyseg, near Llangollen. This has to be some of the finest limestone scenery to be found in the UK.
Llangollen : finally, the southern end of the Clwydian Hills is marked by the town of Llangollen, known the world over as the home of the Eisteddfod (the welsh singing, poetry and culture festival). The town is split into two by the waters of the River Dee, whilst on the outskirts of the town are the ruins of a castle, Dinas Bran.