From Llyn Brenig's shore to Hen Ddinbych


Llyn Brenig


3 miles (4.8kms)

394ft (120m)
1hr 30min

About the walk

In days gone by Brenig was a wilderness. Here the Afon Brenig and Afon Fechan began life on the rolling heather moors of Mynydd Hiraethog, and here hardy inhabitants had tried to eke out a living on the thin, peaty soils.

Signs of early inhabitants

In 1973 the construction of the Brenig Reservoir started. One of the problems with flooding the valley was that there were sites of immense archaeological interest known to have been occupied since prehistoric times. Before they were submerged, teams from the University College of North Wales and the University of Manchester investigated 50 sites in the region and their secrets were recorded. Many of the shoreline archaeological sites are linked by waymarked trails.

In a lakeshore setting not far from the car park you’ll come to the Ring Cairn and a burial mound, built by the later Bronze Age settlers, which is known as Boncyn Arian. The Ring Cairn itself was used for ceremonial purposes and would have consisted of a stone ring, surrounded by carved posts. Boncyn Arian (the Money Hillock) dates back to 1600 bc. Digging revealed six cremation burials, and one of the urns held the burnt ear bones of a child. This area is also known to be the site of a Mesolithic camp, where archaeologists found flint tools and charcoal from about 5700 bc. The settlers were the first after the Ice Age and would have been hunter-gatherers from the coast. On the hillside to the east of the lakes by the Nant Criafolen stream are the remains of the Hafotai settlement. Formerly huts, thatched with heather and rushes, they were summer dwellings for 16th-century farmers. The Platform Cairn on the next rise is the most impressive of the many cairns seen on the route. It topped the burial site of an adult and child and was originally a wide ring with an open centre, the inner edge highlighted by upright stones. A central post hole was later covered by a stone platform.

A medieval community

Hen Ddinbych, which means Old Denbigh, lies in a hollow to the south. The ditches hereabouts are the remains of a medieval field system. You can see the remnants of what was probably a large farm or even a small village – some say it was the site of old Denbigh but that is doubtful. Some of the stone from the original buildings was taken in 1881 to rebuild Hafoty Siôn Llwyd, a now abandoned farmhouse near the end of the walk.

Walk directions

Go through the gate and follow the stony track to the Ring Cairn and the neighbouring burial mound of Boncyn Arian, both of which lie between the right side of the track and the reservoir.

After viewing, go back a few paces to a stile by a gate on the opposite side of the track. Waymarking posts point the way up the hill towards the wind turbines and the Hafotai settlement information board (or the remain of).

The way now turns south, following occasional markers. The path soon descends to a gate by a stream. Beyond this, climb to another marker on the brow of a low ridge, and then another, before swinging right across upland pasture to reach the impressive Platform Cairn.

From the Platform Cairn, still following waymarkers, descend to the Hen Ddinbych information board, which overlooks the ancient settlement.

Descend to the earthworks, which are worth further exploration. Once you have done this, retrace your steps back to the Hen Ddinbych information board. This time continue westwards in the direction of the reservoir, climbing past more waymarkers to reach another Bronze Age cairn.

The path now swings right to join a bulldozed track leading past the abandoned farmhouse of Hafoty Siôn Llwyd. Where the track joins the main round-the-lake track, turn right and follow it back to the car park.

Additional information

Well-defined paths and farm tracks, some stiles

Sheep pastures

Sheep country – keep dogs on leads

OS Explorer 264 Vale of Clwyd

Car park on northeast side of reservoir, access off B4501

None on route but close by at Llyn Brenig Centre on the southwest side of the reservoir near the dam

Been on this walk?

Send us photos or a comment about this route.

Know a good walk?

Share your route with us.


Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.

Find out more

About the area

Discover Denbighshire

The north-east Wales county of Denbighshire shares a name – though not the same borders – with one of Wales’s thirteen historic counties. It includes the seaside holiday towns of Rhyl and Prestatyn; the medieval county town of Denbigh; and the tiny cathedral town of St Asaph.

Pretty Llangollen in the south of the county is part of the 11-mile UNESCO World Heritage Site beginning at the Horseshoe Falls, in Denbighshire’s Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and following the Llangollen Canal along its length to Thomas Telford’s cast iron Pontcysyllte Aqueduct just over the border in neighbouring Wrexham.

Today, the county is predominantly rural, with sheep and cattle rearing in the upland areas. Much of the economy is based around tourism, with plenty of holiday cottages and B&Bs available around the seaside towns, while attractions further inland include plenty of castles – try Rhuddlan, Denbigh, Dinas Bran or Bodelwyddan – the Llangollen–Corwen heritage railway and the Victorian Ruthin Gaol.

Why choose Rated Trips?

Your trusted guide to rated places across the UK
icon example
The best coverage

Discover more than 15,000 professionally rated places to stay, eat and visit from across the UK and Ireland.

icon example
Quality assured

Choose a place to stay safe in the knowledge that it has been expertly assessed by trained assessors.

icon example
Plan your next trip

Search by location or the type of place you're visiting to find your next ideal holiday experience.

icon example
Travel inspiration

Read our articles, city guides and recommended things to do for inspiration. We're here to help you explore the UK.