AHNE Bryniau Clwyd / Clwydian Range AONB

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Clwydian Range

The Clwydian Range is an unmistakable chain of summits, clad in purple heather moorland and topped by Britain’s most dramatically situated hillforts. This is the imposing upland frontier of North Wales, visible from all directions, inviting discovery and exploration.

View of the Range

The delightfully varied countryside here embraces impressive limestone cliffs and grasslands, magical wooded valleys and gentle pastureland. Breathtaking views from the Range take in everything from Snowdonia to Merseyside. They are a reminder of this area’s unique perspective, at the heart of rural Wales but with strong links across the nearby border to England.

The Clwydian Range covers 160 square kilometres and rises to 554 metres at the summit of Moel Famau. The hills stretch from the Vale of Clwyd in the west to the foothills of the Dee Estuary to the east; from Prestatyn Hillside in the north to the Nant y Garth pass on the edge of the Dee Valley in the south.

Seen at its best from the Vale of Clwyd, the open heather moorland of the high ridge dominates the small hedged fields and coppice woodland of the lower slopes. This highly fertile farmland gives a soft pastoral foreground to the hills.

Impressive limestone outcrops burst through the surface in a number of places down the eastern side of the range – most notably at Prestatyn Hillside, Llanferres and Loggerheads which boast rich grasslands of orchids and other wildflowers that provide a haven for butterflies.

The hills are cut in places by deep valleys carrying the area's two main rivers, the Alyn and the Wheeler, often disappearing under ground into hidden water courses among the limestone. 

This varied “semi-natural” landscape of heather moorland, limestone grassland, rivers and woodland means a rich diversity of wildlife species and habitats.

Panoramic view

The AONB also has a wealth of archaeological and historic remains which date from the early prehistoric period right through to the Second World War. Sites range from the massive Iron Age hillforts to the less conspicuous crop marks and finds in the lower areas. 

Many of these archaeological sites are Scheduled Ancient Monuments protected through Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments. But many other historic features such as boundary stones, village wells and milestones are not protected and are much more vulnerable.

Many of these archaeological sites are important components of the wider landscape – the evidence of past mining and quarrying, settlements and burials form a familiar backdrop to our life today.

The archaeological imprints left on the landscape show us that people and communities are as much a part of the landscape as flowers and wildlife. The Clwydian Range has a particularly rich and diverse culture. Eisteddfodau are held all over the region to celebrate Welsh language, music and poetry.

The Clwydian Range has traditionally been a day-trip destination from Merseyside and Cheshire, and receives large numbers of visitors, particularly at its two country parks of Loggerheads and Moel Famau. Offa’s Dyke National Trail follows almost the entire length of the ridge crest before heading into the Dee Valley.

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