Clwydian Range

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Moel Arthur, one of the Clwydian Range's hill forts. Seen from Moel Llys-y-Coed
Clwydian Range from Abergele showing from left to right-Prestatyn Hillside, Gop Hill, Moel Hiraddug and Mynydd y Cwm

The Clwydian Range (Welsh: Bryniau Clwyd) is a series of hills in north east Wales that runs from Llandegla in the south to Prestatyn in the north, with the highest point being the popular Moel Famau. The range forms part of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley (Welsh: AHNE Bryniau Clwyd a Dyffryn Dyfrdwy) Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


The Clwydian Hills are formed from an upstanding block of deep sea sediments formed during the Silurian period as debris slurries originating on the nearby continental shelf. The older mudstones and siltstones of the Nantglyn Flags Formation form parts of the west-facing scarp slope and the overlying Elwy Formation which consists of mudstones and siltstones deposited in deep marine conditions with numerous sandstone beds form most of the higher ground.[1] Both formations are of Ludlovian age. The range's rocks are intensely faulted; the major Vale of Clwyd Fault is responsible for the impressive west-facing scarp of the Clwydian Range. It downthrows the rocks to the west and separates the younger Carboniferous and Permo-Triassic rocks of the Vale of Clwyd from those of the hills.[2]

Ice from the Welsh ice-sheet moved eastwards over the Clwydian Hills during the last ice age, impinging on the Irish Sea Ice to the east of the range. Numerous glacial meltwater channels occur around the range whilst the valley of the River Wheeler which cuts the range in two was a significant drainage channel.[3]

The hills[edit]

The summits of the hills in the Clwydian Range provide extensive views across northern Wales, to the high peaks of Snowdonia, eastwards across the Cheshire Plain and the Peak District, and towards Manchester and Liverpool in England to the northeast. They have heather-clad summits above rolling pastures. The Offa’s Dyke National Trail traverses the range from Llandegla to Prestatyn.[4]

The range includes a number of hills possessing Iron Age hillforts, including (from the north) Y Foel (Moel Hiraddug), Moel-y-gaer, Penycloddiau, Moel Arthur, a second Moel y Gaer and Foel Fenlli. There are, as with many places in the west of Britain, a number of legends associated with King Arthur surrounding these hills. There are a number of tumuli and cairns on the hills.[5]

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty[edit]

The Clwydian Range was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1985, one of only five in Wales. The original area was 167 square kilometres (64 sq mi) but in 2011, the area was extended southwards by a further 229 square kilometres (88 sq mi) to include the Dee Valley, Moel y Gamelin, the Horseshoe Pass and Castell Dinas Bran, the towns of Llangollen and Corwen, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Chirk Castle and Valle Crucis Abbey.[6] The AONB now extends to 150 square miles (389 square km).[7]


A wide range of wildlife thrives in the range, including red kites and red foxes, which both prey on rabbits and voles. There is also one of the few Welsh populations of Black Grouse and there is a project to conserve the European water vole, which is suffering a large decline in numbers across the United Kingdom. Another project is trying to get rid of the non-native Himalayan balsam which has invaded the Alyn Valley area.[8]


The Offa's Dyke Path follows the Clwydian Range, although Offa's Dyke itself was not constructed on it. The Clwydian Way long distance footpath passes through the Clwydian Range, and the North Wales Path follows the foot of the scarp between Prestatyn and Dyserth.[9]


# Peak Elevation (m) Grid reference
1 Bryn Coed yr Esgob 211 SJ068812
2 Moel Hiraddug 265 SJ063785
3 Mynydd y Cwm 300 SJ073768
4 Moel Maenfa 290 SJ085745
5 Moel y Parc 381 SJ114703
6 Penycloddiau 440 SJ127678
7 Moel Plas-yw 420 SJ152669
8 Moel Arthur 456 SJ145661
9 Moel Llys-y-coed 465 SJ145655
10 Moel Dywyll 475 SJ151632
11 Moel Famau 554 SJ161626
12 Moel y Gaer 339 SJ148617
13 Moel Fenlli 511 SJ162600
14 Moel Eithinen 434 SJ168592
15 Gyrn 384 SJ165586
16 Moel Gyw 467 SJ171575
17 Moel Llanfair 447 SJ169566
18 Moel y Plâs 440 SJ170554
19 Moel y Gelli 361 SJ166545
20 Moel y Waun 412 SJ168534
21 Moel yr Acre 400 SJ169525


  1. ^ "BGS: Geology of Britain". Geology of Britain Viewer. British Geological Survey. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  2. ^ 1:50K map sheets 107 Denbigh & 108 Flint. Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey.
  3. ^ Map sheet (England and Wales) 108 Flint (Solid and Drift Geology ed.). Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey. 1999.
  4. ^ "Exploring the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley". Explore Wales. Welsh Government. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Ordnance Survey 1:25K map sheet 265 'Clwydian Range/Bryniau Clwyd". Ordnance Survey. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ "Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty". Denbighshire Countryside Services. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB". Retrieved November 4, 2014.
  8. ^ "Wildlife projects". Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Clwydian Way". North Wales Area of The Ramblers Association. Retrieved 25 April 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°11′N 3°15′W / 53.183°N 3.250°W / 53.183; -3.250