is a Welsh county on the border with England. It is located
in the north east of Wales between the counties of Denbighshire to the
west and the English county of Cheshire to the east, the county borough
of Wrexham to the south and the Irish Sea to the north.
The county of Flintshire is often described as the "Gateway to Wales",
but unfortunately most travellers treat the county literally as a gateway
and travel straight through without stopping. But Flintshire has much
to offer: from the world renowned Holy
Well of St Winifride at Holywell; the ancient monument of Offa's
Dyke ; the Edwardian Castle at
Flint; the historic villages of Llanasa and Caergwrle; traditional
market towns such as Mold;
not to mention the glorious welsh countryside and the magnificent views
of the Dee estuary.
To describe Flintshire I will describe a road journey that circumvents
the county. The tour starts from the town of Hawarden, and presumes you
have entered Flintshire from the historic English City of Chester, and
finishes in the heart of Flintshire in the county town of Mold.
Hawarden's main claim to fame are it's two castles and the fact that
it was the home to William Gladstone the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
original and true castle dates from the 12th century and is now in ruins,
but the present day Hawarden Castle is actually a Georgian and Victorian
castellated mansion that was home to Gladstone and now to his descendants. Close
by is the the celebrated library of St Deiniol, the nation's tribute
to Gladstone which also houses an exhibition of his life and career.
We leave Hawarden via the A550 joining the B5129 near Queensferry. (A
good road map is essential to traverse this Welsh version of spaghetti
junction!). Head north west toward the town of Flint. On your right
you will see the new "Flintshire Bridge" which has little architectural
merit to speak of other than that it blends in magnificently with the
matching electricity pylons that scar this area of the borderlands, and
sits comfortably amidst this ugly industrialised landscape that is known
as the Deeside Industrial Park.
Moving swiftly on to Connah's Quay and the 1000 year old woodland
of Wepre Country Park which contains the ruins of another ancient caste,
Ewloe Castle was built in the13th century by Llywelyn the Last, Prince
Continue on the B5129, (merging with the A548), to the ancient town
of Flint. Flint's more recent architecture leaves a lot to be desired
but the 13th century castle built by King Edward 1 on the banks of the
River Dee is well worth a visit. It may not have the grandeur of some
of Edward's other Welsh castles such as Conwy or Harlech, but it is renowned
as the location ( described by William Shakespeare) where King Richard
11 surrendered to Henry Bolingbroke. This act could be said to have been
a prime cause of the English Wars of the Roses and the Welsh
rebellion of Owain Glyndwr.
There are walks along the shoreline close to the castle and bird enthusiasts,
twitchers even, will appreciate the huge flocks of wading birds that migrate
to the Dee mud flats during the winter months.
From Flint we head north west on the A548 alongside the Dee estuary
to the town of Holywell.
Holywell, as it's name suggests is famous for the Holy
Well of St Winifride. It has been an important place of pilgrimage
since medieval times, indeed King Henry V walked here from Shrewsbury
to give thanks for his victory at Agincourt and the church itself was
rebuilt by Margaret Beaufort mother of Henry Tudor around 1500 AD. For
history buffs the small town of Holywell has as many as 60 listed buildings,
and for those who like a bargain there are open air markets on Saturdays
Close by is the Greenfield Valley Heritage Park where you will find the
industrial history of the area presented within the remains of 18th century
buildings, a museum and visitor centre, combined with woodland walks and
a number of lakes teeming with bird life.
Leaving Holywell on the B5121 we take the A548 for a short distance
north west before turning inland and taking a detour down the winding
country lanes to the villages of Whitford, Trelogan, and Glan yr Afon,
passing on the way the early British stone crosses of Maes Achwyfan.
Returning to the A548 coast road at Ffynnongroyw it is just a short
drive to Talacre beach, at the mouth of the Dee estuary, and the protected
Special Site of Scientific Interest, home of rare natterjack toads and
Again we return to the A548 this time passing through the village of
Gwespyr en-route to the historic village of Llanasa. The village of
Llanasa, nestling in a fold in the hills 450 feet above the Dee estuary,
is home to a Victorian school, some tithe barn cottages and a 17th century
hall. The church in Llanasa is believed to have been founded in the 6th
century with the present building dating from the late 15th century.
There are magnificent examples of stained glass in the large east windows
that were originally from the nearby Basingwerk Abbey.
Leaving Llanasa we take the turning east at the junction with the A5151
at Gop Hill to the B5122 to Caerwys. But pause a while at Gop Hill, close
to Trelawnyd, to view what is the biggest prehistoric monument in Wales
and the second largest artificial mound in Britain. Gop Hill a prehistoric
Cairn mound stands 46 feet tall and some 820 feet above sea level, affording
fantastic views in all directions.
The Hill can be reached by a footpath from Trelawnyd. Legend says that
it is the burial site of Boadicea (Boudicca) which it may be, or may
be it is a monument to the dead, or indeed a massive prehistoric
Leaving Trelawnyd we take the A5151 to Lloc where a right turn takes
us to the B5122 and the small town of Caerwys.
Indeed it is said to be the smallest town in Britain having been granted
a charter in the 13th century by King Edward 1.
Caerwys was once a Roman outpost, but it is most famous for the eisteddfodau
or poetry festivals which have been held there. According to tradition,
the first was summoned in about 1100 by Gruffydd ap Cynan, the liberator
of Gwynedd from the rule of the Norman overlord Hugh Lupus. Another was
held in 1523, and in 1567 Queen Elizabeth I gave permission for a competitive
bardic assembly there.
The Roman connection continues with the ancient Church of St Michael's
in the town. Although this can not be proved it is said that (on
the basis of the early fabric at the base) the Church Tower was built
on the site of a Roman observation tower. Whether true or not the Church
can be traced back many hundreds of years. It has a late 13thC tower
and nave to which a chancel and a north aisle were later added. The building
contains a 13thC effigy, broken sepulchral slabs of 14thC date, and a
range of wooden furnishings of 17thC date. The church has two lychgates,
one originally dating to 15thC. The earliest reference to the church
is in 1244 when it was nominated as a meeting place between Prince David
and King Henry III and was referred to again in 1284, More
Caerwys information >
From Caerwys we take the A541 south east toward Nannerch. The peaceful
village of Nannerch, close to the River Wheeler, sits against a backdrop
of the Clwydian Hills with the iron age hill forts of Penycloddiau
and Moel Arthur near by.
On leaving Nannerch keep your eyes open for the Penbedw
It can be found in a field close by the turning to Cilcain off the A541.
It is believed to date from as far back as the Bronze Age (2000
- 1250 BC). There were originally eleven standing stones, but only four
or five remain. Trees have been planted in positions where other stones
Continue south on this lane to the ancient village of Cilcain. The
village is of such an age that it was entered in the doomsday Book and
several of the cottages date back to the 16th and 17th century. There
is an interesting church, St Mary's, which has a fine carved oak hammer
beam roof dating from the 16th century. Cilcain itself sits in the foothills
of the Clwydian Range and is a popular starting point for walkers and
Famau, the highest peak in the Clwyd Hills, is visible from
the centre of the village. It's a proper village community with the church,
a bowling green, community centre and a pub, the White Horse, indeed
the White Horse Inn is
a pub and
not a restaurant like most public houses these days.
Leaving Cilcain we take the scenic route on the narrow country lanes
through the wooded valley to Pantymwyn and on to Gwernaffield and the
hamlet of Cadole.
At Cadole it is well worth sneaking into the county of Denbighshire
to visit Loggerheads Country Park with its woodland and riverside walks.
Returning to Flintshire we travel west along the A494 from Cadole
as far as the right turn to Maeshafn. Be prepared for splendid views
of Flintshire including Moel Findig, a local nature reserve and one
of the lesser known Clwydian Hills.
From Maeshafn it is but a couple of miles to the ancient village of
Nercwys, be prepared for more fine views with the county town
of Mold in the distance.
Nercwys itself has an old church with an interesting looking tower, St
Mary's, that dates back to Norman times. It houses an interesting
carved, coloured and gilded chair known as "Cader Fair" or St Mary's
Seat. The earliest reference to a church at Nercwys dates from 1291.
The church was extensively restored and enlarged in 1847, and again in
Leaving Nercwys we continue to Treuddyn an old mining village where
as many as 450 men were once employed in the collieries.
From Treuddyn we take the A5104 for a short distance until we meet the
B5101 to Llanfynydd where we find more evidence of early man's
labour. The massive Offa's Dyke that stretches from the north of Wales
to the Severn Estuary in the south of Wales. The Dyke consists of an
earthen bank which can be up to 26 feet high and is Britain's most impressive
Staying on the B5101 we arrive at the village of Frith where archaeological
finds reveal that the area was inhabited during the Roman occupation
of Britain. A Roman hypocaust or vapour bath was uncovered in the 16th
century and since then many treasures have been found including gold
rings, ivory pins, and gold coins. It is presumed the Romans were attracted
by the availability of lead reserves in the nearby Nant-y-Frith valley.
From Frith we take the B5102 and A541 to Cefn-y-Bedd and Caergwrle.
Caergwrle is dominated by it's 13th century castle, or rather the ruins
of the castle. Sometimes called " the very last Welsh built castle"
(and other times called "a pile of old stones"
... joke) Caergwrle was begun in 1277 by Dafydd ap Gruffydd, younger
brother of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, or Llywelyn the last, Prince of Wales.
It was from Caergwrle that Dafydd undertook his victorious attack on
the English at Hawarden in 1282.
But victory was short lived and the English King Edward 1 captured Caergwrle
castle soon after and reduced it to ruins. Never to be rebuilt.
The town of Caergwrle however had a more promising future and in it's heyday
thousands of visitors would arrive by train to take the waters at "Caergwrle
and Wells Railway Station"
From Caergwrle we take a short detour on the A550 to the village of
Hope. The church of St Cynfarch and Cyngar in Hope was probably founded
in the early medieval period and there is evidence that a wooden church
stood on the site during the 12th century. This was replaced by a stone
building in the late 13th century. The north nave was built circa 1500,
with the tower being added some years later. Extensive "restoration" took
place in 1859, and again in 1885.
The presence of the church in Hope comes as somewhat of a surprise to me
as "when I were a lad" I remember the phrase "Live
in Hope and get buried in Caergwrle", which I took to mean there was no
graveyard and thus no church in Hope.
By now we are close to the English Border and not wishing to stray into
"foreign territory" we return to Caergwrle and the A541.
From Caergwrle we take the A541 north to the county town of Mold
and the last point on our trip around the county of Flintshire.
Mold is a friendly market town and there are bustling street markets every
Wednesday and Saturday, the street trading being a tradition in Mold since
the 17th Century. Mold's greatest claim to fame however is the Bronze
Age Gold Cape, a unique and fantastic piece of prehistoric metalwork,
estimated around 2000 BC, found on a skeleton in fields nearby and proudly
exhibited centre stage in the British Museum in London. Mold Library /
Museum displays a copy of the Gold Cape and many other Bronze Age treasures.
I may be on my own with this but I believe that the Gold Cape is
such an important artifact that it rewrites the history of the British
Isles and indeed Western Europe. Should you view the Cape and marvel
at its fantastic workmanship remember that it is .... 4000 years
The ancient church of St
Mary's overlooking the High Street was financed by Margaret Beaufort,
the mother of Henry Tudor, to mark his victory over Richard 111 at the
Battle of Bosworth and his enthronement as King of England in the 15th
Century. More information about