Always on the go

Cheshire based mum of 3 sharing our favourite family adventures

Castell Dinas Bran

I’ve been wanting to walk up Castell Dinas Bran for years. The trouble with Llangollen is there are so many brilliant walks around you are spoilt for choice, but last month we finally got to visit and I have to say it was worth the wait!

Looking like something out of a fairytale, Castell Dinas Bran is a ruined 13th century castle sitting on top of a rugged mound in the vale of Llangollen. If you asked a child to draw a castle they’d probably draw a location just like this, it really is spectacular and I don’t think there’s many places like this in the UK and to top it all it’s free to visit!

The castle sits on top of an Iron Age hillfort dating from around 600 BC. It was built in the mid 13th century by Gruffydd Maelor II, prince of an area known as Powys Fadog. In 1277 during Edward I’s conquest of North Wales, Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln was sent to besiege the castle. However, knowing of his arrival, the Welsh abandoned and set alight to the castle. All in all the castle was only occupied for a few decades, a lot of effort to go to for such a short time!

Now, a word of warning, this is a steep walk, my 5 year old managed it no problem but if you have reluctant walkers then take all the Haribo bribes you can carry! We passed many families doling out sweets to kids of all ages to encourage them up. When we visited it was pretty muddy so you really need to take care especially coming down. After you’ve walked up and down this you’ll certainly see why they built a castle up there, that hill would put off any approaching invaders! But don’t you be put off, this is not Snowdon! You’ll be up the top in about 30 mins!

Parking can be found along Panorama Walk. There are a few laybys along this road, if you see a spot nab it quick as it can sometimes be hard to find a space. I managed to forget to take a photo of said parking but will update with one when I next visit! The Sat Nav link on the Info Bar will take you to the biggest of the laybys. Depending on which direction you’re coming into it the drive up is very narrow and a single track.

From the car park, follow Panaroma Walk in the direction of Llangollen (if you’re facing the cars in the layby then this will be off to your left).

The road skirts under the limestone escarpment of Eglwyseg Rocks and the boys enjoyed playing on the scree slopes. There are fossils in this area so you might be lucky enough to spot one!

After about 600m from where you parked the car you’ll come to this junction where you’ll turn left.

Walk down this road for about 50m. On your right hand side will be the entrance to Castell Dinas Bran.

You won’t need anymore directions from me as it’s pretty self explanatory from here. Just go through the gate and follow the path up and up to the top of the mound!

About a third of the way up look out for a metalwork crow sculpture on the footpath gate, this is a nod to the name Dinas Brân which means ‘Crow’s Fortress’.

Once you’re up the top you can explore it as you wish and the kids will have a brilliant time running round pretending to be knights of the castle! You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views over Llangollen and the surrounding hills and valleys, I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth all the huffing and puffing to get up there! I wish we’d visited on a sunny day to get you better photographs but even on this cloudy January afternoon it was beautiful and anyway I think there’s something atmospheric about being somewhere like this in bad weather!

To return to the car, just retrace your steps back down. If you’ve got any energy left, either drive into Llangollen and enjoy a drink or meal in The Corn Mill watching the Kayakers navigate their way down the Dee. Or alternatively head to the World Heritage Site, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct for a coffee and test your nerves by walking over the aqueduct!

Whatever you do, you’ll sleep well tonight!


February 2022
Moderate - Steep climbs!
Approx 2.4km return
In a layby, first come first served!
Nothing on site, but head into Llangollen and try out The Corn Mill