During ‘Mummy school’ the only thing that piqued their interest was the subject of the Iron Age, which I found rather ironic as home schooling itself felt like it lasted a similar duration to that period in time. Worryingly, I suspect it was the use of sharp weapons and tales of gruesome deaths which appealed to them.
So the promise of visiting a neolithic cave and cairn where 14 cave men and flint arrow heads had been discovered was enough to get them out on a reluctant Saturday afternoon walk.
Gop Hill, affectionately known as ‘The Gop’ sits just south of Prestatyn in the village of Trelawnyd. On top of the hill is a man made mound built in the neolithic period (it dates between 4000 and 3000 BC), measuring approx. 100 metres in width and 14 metres high. How on earth they ever built it with no modern day machinery or tools is very impressive, I’d struggle to build a garden rockery.
It’s the largest prehistoric man made hill in Wales and second in Britain only to Silbury Hill in Wiltshire. For those not down with prehistoric lingo, a cairn is a man made pile or stack of stones built mainly to mark either a landmark or burial site.
To start the walk, park up in the free car park off the High Street of Trelawnyd, the post code on the sat nav link in the info bar will take you right there.
Cross over the road and turn right to head up the street. Just past a road called ‘Bron Haul’ you’ll see a road with a footpath sign taking you off to the left, follow this and at the end you’ll get to the driveway of the last house, look to the left of this driveway and you’ll see a narrow passageway which skirts around the house, follow this then climb over the stone wall and follow the grass path ahead.
Turn right at the Y Gop sign and begin the short but steep path up the hill bearing slightly left at another Y Gop sign half way up.
Ahead you’ll see a stone wall with an iron gate sitting at the base of the mound. Before you climb up to this gate, turn left and walk about 20 metres or so across to Gop Cave.
This small cave, believed to be a burial chamber, was excavated in the 19th century, when 14 skeletons, a stone axe and pottery were found. Today you can walk into the cave, but obviously caution must be taken, naturally they loved it especially using the torches we’d brought. It’s not that big but it’s a cool thing for them to explore especially when you tell them the tales of what was found there.
Coming out of the cave, retrace your steps back along the path and walk up to the iron gate in the stone wall and follow the well trodden path up to the top of the mound.
At 800ft above sea level the views from up here are almost 360 degrees. You can just about make out the tip of the Wirral peninsula looking northwards, then to the west Snowdonia and the North Wales coast and to the south the Clwydian Hill range. The cairn was excavated by the archeologist Boyd Dawkins in 1886-87 by tunneling a 26 foot shaft from the top, however nothing was found which is why the reason for its creation remains unknown. Nobody knows whether they meant it as a burial chamber that never was, for astronomy or defence purposes or some offering to the gods, either way it makes a nice spot for a picnic!
Ever since they watched the Horrible Histories movie they’ve been fascinated by Queen Boudicca, so their eyes widened when I told them the rumour that Gop Hill is the supposed location of her last battle and burial place. I think most historians would strongly refute this, but you need to have an artistic licence with kids sometimes!
Once you’ve had enough of the views head down the mound on the same path you came up on, then bear left towards the woods and a five bar gate, keep going along this path and you’ll enter the woods.
The path skirts around the edge of the woods, but we left the path to have a play in some dens which had been built so I’d recommend doing that to make the walk a bit longer.
Back on the main path keep following it and you’ll come to a wooden gate, go through it and turn right here.
Next you’ll see a metal gate, head through it and walk downwards with a field on your right. At the bottom, you’ll hit the road, turn right, follow the road down and back around to the car park.
It’s not a long walk by any means, but is very steep in places so definitely a no go for pushchairs and prams. Afterwards we drove 5 minutes to Dyserth Waterfalls to have an ice cream and a play in the river so to extend your day this is a definite must.