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  History in Stone above Penmaenmawr

In the footsteps of Neolithic Man
The small resorts of Penmaenmawr – “Head of the Great Stone” – and Llanfairfechan stand below old granite quarries laced by tramway inclines and backed by waves of hills rising to the high Carneddau Mountains . These industrial relics, which produced the millions of cobbles that paved the streets of Lancashire 's towns and cities, are newcomers compared with the long history that unfolds us this walk climbs steeply up to the lonely moors. We follow an ancient trackway richly endowed with stone circles and other traces of our stone-age ancestors. On these slopes at Graiglwyd was a Neolithic axe factory, one of the most important in Britain , whilst nearby is the sublime Druid's Circle (Meini Hirion), with thirty stones, ten still standing. Magnificent views draw the eye inland to the mountains and across the bay to Anglesey and the Great Orme.  This is a linear (one-way) walk. The best idea is to park in Penmaenmawr (there's a car park opposite the station) and catch a train (about one very 90 minutes, not Sundays) to Llanfairfechan or take a service 5 bus from the main street (every half hour, hourly Sundays) towards Caernarfon.

Route
The walk commences on Llanfairfechan seafront at the edge of the Lavan Sands and ends at Penmaenmawr, favourite resort of the Victorian Prime Minister W.E Gladstone. From the front (next to the gardens) walk up Station Road , beneath the railway and up to the town centre crossroads (bus stops nearby). Cross straight over and start up Village Road ; as this bends right across a bridge, fork left along Bryn Road . The beginnings of a long, steady climb are already apparent. In a further 200 yards fork left along Mount Road and simply remain on this. The housing soon dies away, replaced by the occasional farm and secluded house. Views open out across the Lavan Sands to Anglesey and inland to Llwytmor and Drum, lower peaks in the Carneddau range.

The lane eventually turns right and levels out. On your left you'll reach a house with an unusual conical roof. Here fork left along the right-hand of the two tarred lanes, climbing once again to pass a farm and then skirt cool oak and pinewoods dappled with bluebells in May. At the sharp bend go ahead through the gateway (marked by a “North Wales Path” fingerpost) and trace this rough lane to and past the isolated farmhouse, Blaen-llwyn. Beyond this the track becomes a grassy way beside a wall; in a while go through the left-handed gateway and rise gradually to a final gate into open moorland. The route remains obvious, through rushy flushes and out onto close-cropped grassy swathes. To your right a distinctive ridge marks the near horizon, the bristly hills of Foel Lwyd and Tal y Fan.


This area is littered with features that have been recognized as stone circles, ancient enclosures, hut circles and the like, although few are instantly recognisable. That is, until you reach a point where a wall comes in from the left and a low waymark post points your way left along a narrower path. This post is at the edge of a small, easily recognisable stone circle, the first of several. Off to your left the top of quarry workings soon appears; these are the site of the Graiglwyd axe factory whose products spread widely through Britain long before the Romans invaded. The conical hill ahead is Foel Lus, for which our route is destined. In a few hundred yards the path crosses the end of a distinct gully. Divert right here, up either side of the gulch to reach the superb Druid's Circle stone circle, one of the smallest, yet most memorable in Britain. Return to the North Wales Path and trace it eastwards, views now opening out to the distant range of the Clwydian Mountains . On exceptionally clear days the mountains of the Lake District can be discerned, far beyond Llandudno and the Great Orme.

Pass beneath a line of wires and shortly pick up the line of a wall on your right. Waymarks direct you behind one of the low coastal hills and on through a gateway and in front of an isolated house. Walk along the rough access road to reach a second gateway, where the North Wales Path is signed to the right. Leave this here and keep ahead, the track gradually bending left to merge with another at an old road sign. Keep left; in 200 or so yards where a culvert passes beneath the lane bear left down the grassy path beside the stream. Rejoin the lane lower down and turn downhill. This is Mountain Road , a steep descent down into Penmaenmawr giving good views of the somber quarry workings.

At the junction go straight across and down the narrow lane left of the post box. Go straight across the next lane and down Groesffordd Lane to a main road. Look ahead-left for a cut-through to Conwy Road, cross straight over this and take the narrowing Constitution Hill, the path then passing through a wooded dingle to emerge at the car park opposite the railway station.

Map - click to enlarge

DISTANCE : c. 6 miles (10 km)
TIME: Allow 3 hours
TERRAIN: some steep ascents and descents on byroads, good firm grassy paths.
START: Llanfaifechan Promenade
PARKING:
Penmaenmawr
REFRESHMENTS: pubs, hotels, tearooms and shops in both towns.
LOCATION: Llanfairfechan is on the main A55, 7 miles west of Conwy
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Trains and buses link Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan.
PUBLIC CONVENIENCES: Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan
O.S. DETAILS: OS Map Explorer sheet OL17
GRID REF: SH 680755



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