Rambling on Prestatyn Hillside




3.5 miles (5.6kms)

820ft (250m)

About the walk

Just half a mile (800m) back from the golden sands, lively arcades and souvenir shops of Prestatyn there’s a lovely limestone escarpment, covered to its rim with scrub woodland and criss-crossed with shaded footpaths. If you’ve walked Offa’s Dyke you’ll know this place as Prestatyn Hillside. It lies at the end of the 182-mile (293km) long distance route, and at the end of the Clwydian mountain range. Due to its diverse plants and wildlife the area has been included within the boundaries of the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

If you came to this area a couple of hundred years ago there would have been quite a different scene. Prestatyn’s life as a seaside resort had only just begun with the building of the Chester–Holyhead railway in 1848. Animal grazing kept the hill slopes as open pastureland, and the underlying limestone rocks had been ravaged by copper and lead mining, and later quarrying. The quarrying ceased in the 1950s with the closure of Manor Hill Works. Slowly, scrub woodland encroached upon the hill, partly concealing the quarry faces and providing new habitats for a diverse range of birds and insects. Stonechats and warblers are a common sight here, choosing to nest in the gorse scrub. Sessile oak is the predominant tree, with hawthorn and sycamore also common. It’s very noticeable that the woodland floor and many of the trees are cloaked thickly with ivy. Fortunately for the trees, it’s quite harmless to their existence. Bluebells and dog violets add a little colour to the scene, while the less shaded, grassy areas have been colonised by the early purple orchid. In the middle stages of the walk, the path leads to the top edge of the wood with high fields stretching away to the nearby village of Gwaenysgor.

Ahead you can see the next objective, Graig Fawr, a little limestone hill once owned by steel magnate Sir Geoffrey Summers, who donated it to the National Trust. It’s a treasure of a hill with places to picnic, either on its lush undulating lawns or its gleaming white rock outcrops. Distant views include most of the North Wales coastline, from the estuary of the Dee to Llandudno’s Great Orme, the emerald pastures of the Vale of Clwyd, and the Carneddau mountains, blue and hazy beyond the rolling hills of Denbighshire. The home run uses the trackbed of an old railway and paths through the shade of Coed yr Esgob (Bishops Wood). Here you’ll see limestone-loving trees such as the whitebeam, dogwood and small-leafed lime, interspersed with sessile oaks and sycamores. You’ll also see the entrance to an old calcite mine shaft, hidden in the rock face behind the trees.

Walk directions

Take the path out of the car park up to a junction with an existing path. Turn sharp right along the public footpath marked with the Offa’s Dyke National Trail acorn sign. This enters an area of scrubby woodland with a wire fence to the right before climbing above some quarry workings. As the footpath reaches high fields, ignore all the paths off to the left.

Continue along the top edge of the woods towards Tan-yr-Allt, eventually dropping to a junction. Go left, signed to Bryniau, passing above another quarry and then around a wooded cove. Ignore a path off left there, and later, at a waymark, keep ahead towards Bryniau.

Continue on Offa’s Dyke Path and go through a kissing gate and then up a metalled lane by Red Roofs. Turn left at the next junction, then right a few paces further on to follow a lane rounding the south side of Graig Fawr.

Turn right through a gate onto the Graig Fawr Estate and follow a footpath leading to the trig point on the summit.

Descend eastwards along a grassy path that weaves through bracken to pass beneath an overhead power cable at the edge of a wood. Now stepped, the onward way drops beside a fence into the trees. At a path junction turn left, continuing through the woods to a kissing gate at the bottom.

Turn right along a tarred former railway track, before taking the second footpath on the right, cross the field back towards Prestatyn Hillside, then turn left and follow a footpath into Coed yr Esgob, the woods at the foot of Prestatyn Hillside.

Where the path divides, take the upper fork that joins Bishopswood Road. Follow this back to a junction near the car park at the start of the walk.

Additional information

Well-defined woodland paths and tracks

Limestone hillside and mixed woodland

Dogs should be on lead

OS Explorer 264 Vale of Clwyd or 265 Clwydian Range

Parking area at foot of hill

None on route

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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.

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