The Panorama Walk is misnamed as it is actually a road that runs beneath the limestone escarpment to the south of Ruabon mountain. However it does offer some good spots to park the car and have a picnic with great views over the Dee valley, a popular past time on this hot and sunny day.
Total distance – 21 kilometres with 830 metres ascent
I left the car amongst the picnickers and walked along the narrow strip of tarmac, following the route of the Offa’s Dyke Path. The views over rolling lush green hills was idyllic, the stature of the hills growing in the west towards Snowdonia.
The road soon drops sharply to the left leaving the Offa’s Dyke Path to cut a sinuous path below the limestone cliffs. This must be one of the most scenic couple of miles in all of Wales, in comparison to the effort it takes to walk. A couple of times I sat for a while in the warm sun to watch the clouds cast shadows in the fields below. I could tell that the wind would be keen up on the moors and would need to seek shelter later on that evening when looking for a place to pitch the tent.
It was tempting to follow the Offa’s Dyke all the way to World’s End but I wanted to bag the Dewey of Cyrn-y-Brain, a prominent hill bristling with radio towers. It was a steep drop down to the valley bottom and an equally steep climb up the other side. One particular field was teeming with hungry horse flies, one managing to bite me on the back of the hand. A week later I was still left with an angry itchy lump.
I played a game of fantasy house hunting when passing the isolated house called Glyn on the map. There is not even a track that leads to it, just a footpath. Despite this it looked like it is still used, possibly as a holiday cottage. I wouldn’t turn it down as a weekend retreat.
I finally picked up a hard track to the top of Cyrn-y-Brain, bagged the summit and quickly picked up a path heading east. Although the views are extensive it is not a very pretty place and I was glad to have it behind me.
The path led to a minor moorland road which I crossed before heading towards some disused quarry workings high above World’s End. They gave some sheep cropped grass amongst all the heather and bracken, along with shelter from the wind. Unfortunately there was not much in the way of flat ground.
It was the first time that I had used the Enan and was surprised at just how easy it was to pitch. It is pretty snug inside but still enough room without feeling claustrophobic. It was a warm and muggy night, the sound of light rain on the thin flysheet soothing me to sleep.
It was a warm and humid morning, the remnants of the nights rain in the air when I woke up. The first thing that I heard was the unmistakable sound of a quad bike, quickly followed by another. It soon became apparent that I was in the middle of four farmers who were rounding up their sheep by quad and dog. My heart sank and I prepared myself for a bollocking. I heard one say to the other, “bloody hell there is a tent there, I only just spotted that”. I popped my head out and waved and got a wave back. I was asked if I could zip myself back in so that their dog did not go for me (it was sniffing around and had yet to spot me). One actually said, “sorry for disturbing you, we’ll soon be on our way”. I was then left alone once more. A bit of a surreal experience at 8am on a Sunday morning.
I quickly packed and was soon walking along the edge of the moor with great views back to World’s End.
Narrow sheep paths led through thick vegetation to the rocky little top of Craig Arthur. Although only a small pimple on the hill it overlooks the limestone escarpment, giving a bit of drama, especially with thick clouds drifting past.
It was a heathery bash to gain the summit of Ruabon Mountain itself, really just a dull moorland lump. Heading west then south brought a succession of paths high above Trevor rocks and looking out over Castell Dinas Bran. Holes were quickly being torn through the clouds revealing patches of blue skies. The light was superb and I found myself frequently lingering, trying to put off the last short walk back to the car.
I had previously only given this part of Wales a cursory glance when driving along the A5 to Snowdonia. I think that I will have to stop more often to see what the area has to offer.