Jasmine Cottage is exceptionally well positioned to explore this world-famous area. Indeed, many of the well-documented walks can be enjoyed right from the doorstep!!
A footpath round the side and back of No.1 Abbey Terrace provides access to National Trust owned Velvet Hill. A short but exhilarating walk to the top offers magnificent views of the Llantysilio mountain range to the West, the Horsehoe Pass to the North and the Eglwyseg Rocks and Dinas Bran Castle to the East. Continue on and you reach the source of the Llangollen Canal at the Chainbridge Hotel and the Horseshoe Falls. Nearby is picturesque Llantysilio Church where five generations of owners of Velvet Cottage were married (including us!)
Turn right in Abbey Terrace and you quickly arrive at Valley Crucis Abbey. Continue past the Abbey and a pleasant walk takes you to Dinas Bran Castle. Drop down into Llangollen and after a well-earned drink and a little shopping, an easy walk along the canal takes you back to the cottage, either over Velvet Hill or along a deserted lane.
Turn left in Abbey Terrace and you soon reach a footpath across the fields. The old tram route up to the quarries can easily be seen in the mountainside ahead. As the lane turns left, turn right and left to soon reach the Britannia Inn. A footpath leads up from the left hand side of the Inn. From then on, the wilderness of the Llantysilio mountain range is yours to explore!
Continuing a bit further up the Horseshoe Pass, the aforementioned Britannia Inn is reached. The Brit serves excellent meals in country sized portions.
For serious hikers, Velvet Cottage lies close to Offa’s Dyke and the Clwydian Way long distance footpaths, the Dee Valley Way (a fifteen mile footpath between Lllangollen and Corwen) and the tougher North Berwyn Way (also between Llangollen and Corwen). A very popular way of walking both is to catch the steam train from either Llangollen or Berwyn up to Carrog or Corwen, and then walk back on either of the routes. More information can be found on www.deevalleywalks.com.
For really serious hikers, the Llangollen Round is a top-rated challenge. It is a circular route 33 miles in length visiting every summit around the Vale of Llangollen.
The River Dee upstream of Llangollen is one of the Uk’s premier White Water Rafting venues, with water available all year. To find out about White Water Rafting and other adventure sports, visit WhiteWaterActive.
In a 2023 Which survey, Llangollen was voted the sixth best place to visit in the UK, and the top destination in Wales. Among the many attractions which make it so popular are:
Plas Newydd, home of the Ladies of Llangollen (pictured).
Llangollen steam railway, featuring Thomas the Tank engine.
Llangollen canal, with horse drawn barge trips.
Llangollen fringe, including Llangollen jazz festival.
Lots of top quality bars and restaurants such as The Liberty Tavern, The Three Eagles, The Corn Mill, Gales Wine Bar, Chapel Street, S&G Bistro, etc, etc.
Due to the huge diversity of habitats, there is a corresponding variety of bird species either resident or visitors to the area. The River Dee cuts through the area and Dipper, Kingfisher, Goosander and a variety of duck species have been personally seen by ourselves. On the steep hills, most slopes are covered by ancient woodland (one local oak has recently been identified as being over 500 years old!!) Treecreeper, nuthatch, chiffchaff, willow warbler, song thrush and great spotted woodpecker are common, and if you’re lucky you may see a lesser spotted woodpecker by the canal or a flock of crossbills in the pinewood tops. In late Spring/Summer, pied flycatcher, tree pipit, wood warbler and redstart raise their young in the woodlands before their miraculous journey back to Africa. The mountain tops are covered in heather and are home to a population of black grouse (one has been observed by ourselves on Velvet Hill behind the cottage). Raven, red-legged partridge and buzzard are very common and peregrine falcon are resident on the Eglwyseg Rocks (again, peregrine have been observed from the cottage.)
In the cottage area a friendly population of great spotted woodpecker, siskin, willow warbler, chiffchaff, blackbird (newly fledged juvenile pictured), robin, goldfinch, greenfinch, dunnock, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, coal tits and chaffinch feed on the neighbourhood feeders. Green woodpeckers regularly visits the local anthills for an easy snack and not-quite-so-friendly sparrowhawk make infrequent (mostly unsuccessful) swoops into the garden. A short-eared owl sometimes hunts across the valley fields in Winter and in the evening the hoots of tawny owl are often heard and occasionally seen. The Summer skies are filled by large numbers of swallows, swifts and house martins (house martins have successfully nested in the cottage eaves). The local ancient barns provide ideal nesting sites and lots of fledglings can be seen perched on the telephone wires in Autumn. Chiffchaff, Treecreeper, Stonechat, Redstart, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Wren, Great Tit and a small army of Woodpigeon nest in the vicinity of the garden, and jackdaws have nested in next door’s chimney!!
A short drive or an hour’s walk away is World’s End, where black grouse lek in Spring, Whinchat and Willow Warbler are everywhere and Dartford Warbler and Ring Ouzel are rare visitors.
In conclusion, a good day’s birdwatching can be had just by walking a couple of miles in the countryside around the cottage!!
North Wales is a well known tourist destination. From Velvet cottage, the Horseshoe Falls are fifteen minutes walk and the North and West Wales coasts are both an hour’s drive away. There are many National Trust properties in the area, Chirk Castle, Erddig and Bodnant Gardens being among the best.
There are lots of other resources online. Try Visit Wales for a taste of what’s available!!