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north wales borderlands

close enough to touch

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

life on the edge

The clues in the name. The North Wales Borderlands is that top part of Wales, right next to England. Close enough to touch. Literally. Since we share a border with both Shropshire and Cheshire. And were just an hours drive from Liverpool and Manchester and a bare 90 minutes from Birmingham. Were pretty close to the mountains of Snowdonia and the resorts of the North Wales coast, too. But not so far away. And not so familiar. So we suit the original thinkers. The sort of people who like to make their own discoveries. Because although were close, were different. Different country, different atmosphere. Think of it as life on the edge. Because interesting things happen where two cultures meet.

whats inside
We love the North Wales Borderlands. Well, we would say that, wouldnt we? Luckily were not the only ones.

To create this brochure we went out to talk to the people who live and work here. Not all of them, of course. Just enough to give a flavour of what were all about.

For the full story, youll have to visit our website. Where youll also find a list of places to stay once you get here.

And for real insider information, check out our blog, our Facebook pages or our Twitter feed. And then tell us you what you think. Because we dont just love the North Wales Borderlands. We love to talk.

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the great outdoors arts and culture heritage food and shopping attractions booking your stay finding your way

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the great outdoors

weve got it covered

Sometimes just cutting the lawn or doing a bit of a weeding can feel like a chore. Imagine what it must be like if youve got 390 square kilometres to look after. Especially if its an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty containing some of Britains most iconic landscapes. And particularly when that area has just got an awful lot bigger. Not that were complaining. We were proud that the Clwydian Range, our unmistakable chain of heather-clad hills and limestone cliffs, was one of only five AONBs in the whole of Wales. And as pleased as Punch when the designation was recently extended to include most of the Dee Valley. But we cant say we were terribly surprised. Because this new protected area, the first in Wales for 26 years, not only contains dramatic hanging valleys, windswept mountains and the most impressive scree slopes in Britain. It also includes a couple of our most atmospheric ruins: Valle Crucis Abbey and Castell Dinas Brn. Not to mention the magnificent Marcher fortress of Chirk Castle or Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site. Overall this officially lovely landscape now covers more than a fifth of the entire North Wales Borderlands. So it has a suitably big name: the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This isnt just a label. It means that the landscape is being looked after. Because outstanding natural beauty doesnt stay that way on its own. It needs constant work. So we conserve our rare heather moorland by burning it to the ground. We pitch stones, build dry stone walls, lay hedges. We count natterjack toads and listen for black grouse. And everyone joins in to help residents, farmers and visitors alike. None of this is new. The landscape has been shaped by humans since Iron Age people crowned the summits of the Clwydian Range with hillforts more than 2,000 years ago. Remember this as you explore our country parks: Moel Famau, which attracts 200,000 visitors a year, and Loggerheads, a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Because we can always do with a hand. It would make a nice change from weeding.

Opposite clockwise from top left Watersports/Dry stone walling/Coed Llandegla Forest/Offas Dyke National Trail Above Castell Dinas Bra n

at a glance
Offas Dyke National Trail passes through the Clwydian Range on an epic 177-mile journey from Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow to Prestatyn. Where you can dip your aching feet in the Irish Sea. Shorter and less famous than the earthworks of Offa but even older. Wats Dyke Way follows the handiwork of a sixth-century trailblazer all the way from Shropshire to Basingwerk Abbey at Holywell. Lloyd George called the Ceiriog Valley a little piece of heaven on earth. And it hasnt changed. The walking, horse riding and fishing are still heavenly. No wonder Coed Llandegla Forest covers 650 acres. It has a lot to pack in. Mountain biking routes for all abilities. Half the Welsh population of black grouse. And a caf serving Britains best bacon baps. Theres a lot of water in the North Wales Borderlands. And a lot of watersports to go with it. Try white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking on the River Dee at Llangollen. Or sailing at Llyn Brenig (just try to avoid all those ten-pound trout).

arts and culture

the glastonbury of wales

One of the worlds greatest cultural festivals is back where it belongs. From 3-10 August 2013, the National Eisteddfod of Wales comes to Denbigh along with 160,000 people from all over Wales and the wider world. And you dont have to speak Welsh to enjoy an event thats described as a cross between Glastonbury and the Edinburgh Festival. Everyone is welcome right across the 35-acre Maes, or field, with its open-air performance stages, stands and exhibition spaces, theatre, art gallery, dance and literary pavilions. You can see poets, dancers and musicians compete in the iconic pink pavilion and experience all the pomp and circumstance of the Chairing and Crowning of the Bard with simultaneous translation through an earpiece or headset. And you can hear every kind of live music all day and late into the evening. Whether youre into folk, pop, indie or classical, youll find it somewhere on the Maes. In 2013 the festival returns to its modern-day birthplace the decision to create this national institution was taken in Denbigh in 1860. But its place at the heart of the nation goes back a lot farther than that. As a stroll around the miraculously preserved medieval town will demonstrate. There are more than 220 listed buildings. And the granddaddy of them all is Denbigh Castle, an imposing 13th century fortress built by Edward I on top of an existing Welsh stronghold. When you enter the unique triple-towered gatehouse, youll hear the clatter of a portcullis and the tread of marching soldiers. And in the new eco-friendly visitor centre built by custodians Cadw, youll find keys to explore the medieval town walls. You could also visit the grave of one of Waless great writers, Twm or Nant, in the churchyard of St Marcellas Church right next to the Eisteddfod Maes. Travel to the smallest ancient cathedral in Britain at St Asaph to glimpse a rare first edition of Bishop Williams Morgans 1588 Welsh bible. Or explore our theatres, galleries and concert spaces any time you like. Because we dont just celebrate Welsh life and culture when the Eisteddfods in town. Weve been doing it for centuries.

Opposite The National Eisteddfod Clockwise from top left Ruthin Craft Centre/The iconic pink pavilion of the National Eisteddod/Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod/Clwyd Theatr Cymru/ The new visitor centre at Denbigh Castle

at a glance
Clwyd Theatr Cymru at Mold is the leading producing theatre in Wales. Its also a cinema, concert venue, exhibition space, restaurant and book shop. And theres a jolly nice view from the bar. Ruthin Craft Centre is the most important applied arts gallery in Wales. And the 4 million building is a work of art in itself, its zinc roof echoing the shape of the surrounding hills. For one week every July the town of Llangollen opens its doors to the world. And the world pours in: 5,000 musicians and 50,000 visitors. The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is simply unmissable. Wrexham is a great place for a big night out. And in Central Station it has the leading live music venue in Wales, according to Kerrang magazine. The Charlatans, Kasabian, Goldie Lookin Chain, John Cale and Robert Plant have all played there.


just dont look down

The clues in the name. A World Heritage Site means youre on the world map. So when UNESCO decided to put Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the same pedestal as the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids, it was a big day for the little village of Trevor. Not that they werent used to visitors. Thomas Telfords towering masterpiece has been attracting tourists since it opened in 1805. But now theyre coming all the way from the United States of America, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. This year there might be even more. Because carrying the Olympic torch across the aqueduct by barge while Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir sang Bridge Over Troubled Water did get rather a lot of media attention. No wonder theyve extended the visitor centre at Trevor Basin. The former stable block now contains interpretation displays, ancient boat builders tools and even bolts from the aqueducts cast iron trough. You can hear interviews with local people and watch an animation of how Telford created his stream in the sky. And your kids can make their own masterpiece out of wooden blocks. Perfect for calming your nerves before you cross the highest navigable aqueduct in the world by horse-drawn boat. Or if youre very brave, by Shanks pony. Its an incredible 126 feet high and 1,007 feet long. And believe us, when youre halfway across you wont be thinking about Telfords creative genius. Youll be hoping his engineering skills were up to scratch. Especially when you hear that the masonry mortar was made from ox blood, lime and water. And the trough was lined by Welsh flannel, lead and boiling sugar. Or treacle toffee to you and me. Fortunately it hasnt sprung a leak in 200 years. The 10 elegant arches of Telfords other aqueduct down the towpath at Chirk are equally impressive. And the nearby 1,200 feet-long Darkie Tunnel is equally scary (bring a torch because its name is all too appropriate). In fact everything along the 11 miles of canal between Gledrid and Llantisylio is part of the World Heritage Site. Including the two aqueducts at Pontcysyllte and Chirk, two viaducts, two tunnels and the lovely Horseshoe Falls near Llangollen. And you can walk it all, if your legs havent turned to jelly.

Opposite clockwise from top left Downstairs at Erddig/Flint Castle/The visitor centre at Trevor Basin/The Ladies of Llangollen Above Crossing the aqueduct

at a glance
Gladstones Library in Hawarden is the National Memorial to Victorian Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone. It contains 32,000 of his own books. And best of all, it looks like Hogwarts. Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, aka the Ladies of Llangollen, set Regency tongues wagging when they eloped together. Even strait-laced William Wordsworth visited their Gothic fantasy at Plas Newydd. At the National Trusts Erddig, they like you to go in through the back door. Not because they dont like the look of you. But because this is the ultimate upstairs downstairs stately home. Shakespeare wrote about it. Turner painted it. And 2,300 men took seven years to build it. Edward I started Flint Castle in 1277 and didnt stop until hed created an iron ring of castles all along the North Wales coast. Pilgrims have been coming to St Winefrides Well at Holywell for the last 1,300 years. Including Henry V, who wanted to say thanks for Agincourt. You can still take a dip in the healing waters.

eating and shopping

the taste of things to come

Toby Beevers, head chef of the Glynne Arms in Hawarden, is not a man to rest on his laurels in the pursuit of flavour. The 200-year-old coaching inn may be a sister business to increasingly famous foodie destination Hawarden Estate Farm Shop. Which means a ready supply of home-reared meat plus fruit and vegetables so fresh they still have the morning dew on them. But Toby is always searching for the next magic ingredient. The samphire to go with his plaice. The smoked sea salt for his pork scratchings. The ham hock for his mushy peas. And he doesnt like to look too far for inspiration preferably just down the road, over the nearest hedge or in the local orchard. His philosophy is maximum flavour, minimal mileage. Fortunately our food producers are more than up to his exacting standards. So he goes to Simply Relish of Northop for his mustards. Pant Glas Bach of Llanasa for his chutneys and relishes. And Woodlands of Erbistock for his organic dairy ice cream. Not to mention the estate gamekeeper for his venison, pheasant, rabbits and pigeons. And when he cooks, he treats his ingredients with as much respect as youd expect from a member of the world-rated National Culinary Team for Wales. I like to keep it simple and express the flavours of our fantastic local produce, says Toby. The menu is constantly changing according to whats in season and as much as possible is handmade, right down to the burgers and home-pickled fruit. Thats the way to achieve real depth and honesty of flavour. So whats next in Tobys open-minded quest for gastronomic perfection? Well, dont be too surprised if you spot him striding through the local countryside with a basket in his hand. Because hes getting into foraging. There are mushrooms in the woods and chestnuts in the park along with quite a lot of grey squirrels. They were regarded as quite a delicacy at one time, says Toby, ever eager to push the boundaries. And if squirrel pie sounds like a step too far, have a Purple Moose instead. One of four local beers you can sample while youre working up an appetite. Because the Glynne Arms is still the peoples public house it was when it first opened in 1812.


Opposite Chef Toby Beevers and the Glynne Arms Clockwise from top left Welsh Beef and Black Beer Pie/Four beers at the Glynne Arms/Chef Bryan Webb of Tyddyn Llan/Eagles Meadow at Wrexham/Hawarden Estate Farm Shop

at a glance
Here every day is a food festival. But occasionally we make it official. In September, for instance, when Mold celebrates its local food and drink producers. Or in October when food stalls fill the Royal International Pavilion at Llangollen. Its all very well producing some of the finest food in Britain. But someones got to cook it. Youre in safe hands at Tyddyn Llan restaurant with rooms. Master chef Bryan Webb has quite a way with our local game. Not to mention a Michelin star. We pride ourselves on our small, quirky shops. But we also do big. Very big. Eagles Meadow shopping centre occupies eight whole acres of Wrexham town centre. With 306,000 square feet of retail space. And parking for nearly 1,000 cars. A quality landscape produces quality food. Thats the logic behind the Clwydian Range Food Trail. It takes you through some of the most spectacular views in Britain. And introduces you to the producers of its most delicious food.



Clockwise from left Exquisite spa treatment/Ruthin Gaol/Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse

the world can wait

A word of advice. Dont think of Afon Spa as a place to pop in for a quick facial, massage or manicure. Take your time. Savour the experience. Go on a journey through a series of exquisite rituals and treatments. We promise you it will be worth it. By the time youve passed through the salt grotto, the herbal sauna, the aroma steam room, the tropical showers, the reflexology footbaths and the spa pool, the weight of the world will have dropped from your shoulders. And when you emerge, you wont just have lovely soft skin. Youll feel energised and rejuvenated. Ready for anything. You might even have enough oomph to tackle Evolution Extreme. The first indoor extreme sports arena in Wales is right next door with its adrenalin-pumping skate park, high ropes course, climbing tower and bouldering wall. Its all part of a 5.5 million pound investment at Deeside Leisure Centre. But they didnt change a thing at their ice rink. The Olympic-sized pad already had about the best ice in Britain.

at a glance
Kids love the funniest things. And they cant get enough of Ruthin Gaol. Where prisoners were fed on gruel, worked on treadmills and forbidden to speak to each other. Dont try that at home, mind. You may be excited to learn that the farm museum at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park contains one of Britains top 10 combine harvesters. If so, calm yourself with a cup of tea and a cake at the Green Pea Caf next door. Theyve been steeplechasing at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse for more than 150 years. And still havent got round to building a grandstand. The views from this natural amphitheatre are spectacular enough as they are.



Ramada Plaza Wrexham

make a break
You may have realised by now that you cant do justice to the North Wales Borderlands in a day. And theres so much to see, you may not know where to start. Thats where our Tourist Information Centres come in. Theyre staffed by friendly local experts wholl give you the low-down on the best places to eat, where to catch a bus or whats showing at the theatre. In fact, theyll answer just about any question you might have. They will even book a bed for you so you can start all over again in the morning. Or you could do it yourself at our website. Every establishment is graded by Visit Wales or the AA. That means theyre regularly checked, so you can book with confidence. It doesnt matter whether you fancy a campsite or a swish hotel. A country cottage or a room on a working farm. They all carry a star rating from one to five based on the overall quality of the experience and the facilities. And a very big Welsh welcome comes as standard everywhere. To book your break visit: where-to-stay

tourist information centres

Llangollen Y Capel, Castle Street, Llangollen, Denbighshire LL20 8NU Tel: 01978 860828 Email: Mold Earl Road, Mold, Flintshire CH7 1AP Tel: 01352 759331 Email: Wrexham Lambpit Street, Wrexham LL11 1AR Tel: 01978 292015 Email:


take your pick...

introducing waless holiday areas
The North Wales Borderlands is one of the Holiday Areas within Wales. Each area has its own distinct character. The Isle of Anglesey Anglesey offers unparalleled beauty, amazing adventures, serious solitude and a warm welcome. Easily accessible; this unique island, with its coastline, varied beaches and historical towns make it a superb base for all the family. Those that have visited need not be told. They just return t: +44 (0)1248 713177 e: w: w: Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Vibrant Llandudno, the Victorian seaside gem with a history that goes back to the Bronze Age. World Heritage Conwy with its rich maritime past. Waterfront adventure in Colwyn Bay. Year round breaks, filled with family fun, good food, great walking, world-class theatre and a full calendar of exciting events. All within easy reach of Snowdonia. t: +44 (0)1492 577577 e: w: w: Rhyl and Prestatyn Among the best recognised British seaside resorts. Fabulous award-winning beaches with a range of family friendly attractions, events and activities. Walk the Offas Dyke Path in Prestatyn. An hours drive from Merseyside and the West Midlands. t: +44 (0)1745 344515 / +44 (0)1745 355068 e: w: Snowdonia Mountains and Coast The outdoor adventure playground of North Wales that includes the Snowdonia National Park, Lln Peninsula and Cambrian Coastline. A wide choice of quality accommodation, attractions and activities castles, narrow-gauge railways, golf, cycling, walking, award winning beaches, country parks, coastal path, World Heritage Site, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast. t: +44 (0)1341 281485 e: w: w: w: w: Mid Wales and the Brecon Beacons Step into fabulous walking country right on your doorstep. Two National Trails and a National Park, charming spa and market towns and outdoor pursuits in outstanding scenery. Home to Hay Literary Festival and Brecon Jazz, events throughout the year make this a destination for all seasons. t: +44 (0)1874 622485 e: w: Ceredigion Cardigan Bay & the Cambrian Mountains Some of the UKs best coast and countryside to explore on foot or horseback, by bike or boat. Natural beauty from dolphins and red kites to waterfalls, woods and open moors. Enjoy good food, traditional festivals and unique events as well as award winning beaches and resorts, including colourful Aberaeron harbour and Aberystwyth, the cultural capital of Wales. t: +44 (0)1970 612125 e: w: w: Pembrokeshire Britains Only Coastal National Park Rated by National Geographic magazine experts as the second best coastline in the world. With 186 miles of magnificent and varied coastline and over 50 beaches, theres plenty of space for everyone. Choose between lively Tenby and Saundersfoot or peaceful St Davids and Newport. Perfect for outdoor activities or just relaxing. t: 44 (0)844 888 5115 e: w: Carmarthenshire Carmarthen Bay Stretching from Carmarthen Bay in the South to the Western Brecon Beacons in the North, discover Wales longest beaches, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, the home of Merlin the magician plus Laugharne, Llandeilo, Carmarthen, Kidwelly, Pendine, Llandovery & the Teifi & Towy Valleys. Perfect fishing, cycling and walking. t: +44 (0)1267 231557 e: w: Swansea Bay - Mumbles, Gower, Afan and the Vale of Neath Unwind in the UKs first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, relax on award-winning beaches, and explore unspoilt countryside. Visit some of the UKs best locations for walking, cycling, watersports and golf, together with Swansea, Wales Waterfront City, home to Wales first Premier League football team. t: +44 (0)1792 468321 e: w: The Valleys Heart and Soul of Wales A stunning landscape perfect for walking, cycling and many other outdoor activities. The Valleys has a unique history, including a World Heritage Site, Wales largest Castle and Big Pit, the real coal mine attraction. For a true Welsh experience, visit The Valleys, the heart and soul of Wales. t: +44 (0)29 2088 0011 e: w: Cardiff, Capital of Wales The capital of Wales has unique attractions, top-class entertainment and quality shopping with a difference. Cardiff Castle, the Millennium Stadium, National Museum Cardiff, the Wales Millennium Centre and brand new Doctor Who Experience combined with Cardiff Bay offer indoor and outdoor entertainment for everyone. t: +44 (0)29 2087 3573 e: w: The Glamorgan Heritage Coast and Countryside The dramatic Heritage Coast and popular resorts of Barry Island and Porthcawl are fringed by lovely Vale and Bridgend countryside and green hills. Discover the special character of an area steeped in history and its close to Cardiff, Wales cosmopolitan capital. t: +44 (0)1446 704867 t: +44 (0)1656 786639 e: e: w: w: The Wye Valley and Vale of Usk Brecon Beacons, Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blaenavon World Heritage Site and Celtic Manor Resort. Explore bustling market towns, formidable castles, Roman towns, and magnificent gardens. Busy bees, real ales, artisan producers, Michelin stars and Abergavenny and Newport Food Festivals help to make this the food capital of Wales. All you need for a proper holiday! t: +44 (0)1291 623772 e: w:

For FREE copies of any THREE Holiday Area brochures please tick the appropriate boxes and send to: Visit Wales, Dept N03, PO Box 1, Cardiff CF24 2XN The Isle of Anglesey Llandudno & Colwyn Bay The North Wales Borderlands Snowdonia Mountains & Coast/Eryri Mynyddoedd a Mr Mid Wales & the Brecon Beacons Ceredigion Cardigan Bay and the Cambrian Mountains Pembrokeshire Carmarthenshire the Garden of Wales Swansea Bay, Mumbles, Gower, Afan & the Vale of Neath The Valleys Heart and Soul of Wales Cardiff The Glamorgan Heritage Coast & Countryside

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Copywriting, design and production: White Fox 01352 840898 Photography: Chris Harrison Photography, White Fox, Orange Imaging, Crown copyright (2013) Visit Wales, Cadw, Welsh Government (Crown Copyright), National Eisteddfod of Wales/Wales News Service Ltd, National Eisteddfod of Wales/Keith Morris, Hawarden Estate Farm Shop/Tim Winter, Kevin Osborne, Big Cheese, Eye Imagery, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse, Clwydian Range AONB, Dewi Tannatt Lloyd, Laurence Crossman-Emms.
Published jointly in January 2013 by Flintshire County Council, Denbighshire County Council and Wrexham County Borough Council. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publishers can accept no liability whatsoever for any errors, inaccuracies or omissions or for any matter in any way connected with or arising out of the publication of the information. Copyright for material is held by the publishers and may not be reproduced in part or in whole in any form without written consent.


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cover photograph denbigh castle

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