Walk report Penyffordd to Wrexham 21st November

Poppy cascade St Cynfarch’s Church, Hope near Wrexham

The East Cheshire Ramblers recently ventured slightly further afield for a linear walk just inside northeast Wales. Starting out from Penyfford, the group followed a section of the Wat’s Dyke Way, between the village and Wrexham before catching the bus back to the start.
The Wat’s Dyke Path is a 61 mile long way-marked recreational route running between Llanymynech, south of Oswestry north to the coast at Greenfield in Flintshire and follows the ancient earthwork known as Wat’s Dyke. For much of the way, the dyke runs parallel with its more famous neighbour Offa’s Dyke. The date of the earthwork is thought that it was constructed around the 8th century but scholars have often disputed its exact date.
Heading south, the group first stopped at the historic church in Hope where a cascade of poppies was still hung on display from the church tower. The present building was built on one of the earliest Christian sites in North Wales. The substantial church tower dates from the 16th century and was built later than the nave.
Continuing with the Wat’s Dyke Way, the next stop was Caergwrle and we entered the village by crossing the ancient packhorse bridge over the River Alyn before making to the ruins of Caergwrle Castle. A stiff but short ascent led to the ruinous walls which still stand quite high. The castle was one of the shortest lived in castles in Wales. Work on the castle begun in 1277 by Dafydd but was partially destroyed before it was finished. When work began again, a disastrous fire in 1283 broke out and work on the unfinished castle was abandoned. It is believed that the castle was only lived in for around six years. Quarrying in the 16th century undermined part of the building and it collapsed.
Leaving Caergwrle, we passed the former Caergwrle Spa. The heyday of the spa was in the early 20th century and the natural spring waters here were noted for their health giving properties. The adjacent bottling plant, which is a rather unusual building, is now a private house.
Continuing on field paths, we diverted into the Alyn Waters Country Park for our lunch stop before pressing on to reach Wrexham Bus Station for the return journey. Despite the gloomy skies of the day, the group enjoyed exploring an area with plenty of unfamiliar paths and much historical interest.