On arrival you will find comprehensive literature to help you get the best out of your holiday. Here’s a taster of what’s on offer:
Velvet 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 Valle Crucis Abbey (http://www.llangollen.com/valle.html). Continue past the Abbey and a pleasant walk takes you to Dinas Bran Castle (http://www.llangollen.com/castle.html). 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!
After a hard day’s exploring, the Abbey Grange Hotel beckons(http://www.abbey-grange-hotel.co.uk). The hotel, reached by a short footpath across a field, brews it’s own real ales on the premises. We can especially recommend the Sunday carvery. Prepared using local meat and vegetables, it’s delicious!!
Continuing a bit further up the Horseshoe Pass, the aforementioned Britannia Inn is reached (http://www.britinn.com/). The Brit serves excellent meals in country sized portions.
For serious hikers, Velvet Cottage lies close to Offa’s Dyke (http://www.offas-dyke.co.uk)and the Clwydian Way (http://www.clwydianway.co.uk) 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 the Dee Valley and North Berwyn Ways is to catch the steam train from either Llangollen or Berwyn up to Carrog or Corwen, and then walk the route 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 LDWA say that it is possible to complete the walk in one day - we’ll take their word for that!!
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.
Llangollen itself has many well documented attractions. The best resource for up to date information is the Town Council website. Among the highlights are:
Plas Newydd, home of the Ladies of Llangollen (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays).
Llangollen steam railway, featuring Thomas the Tank engine.
Llangollen canal, with horse drawn barge trips.
Llangollen pavilion, home of the International Music Eisteddfod and many other events throughout the year (visit http://www.pavilion-llangollen.com or http://www.llangollenpavilion.co.uk/ for up to date information).
Llangollen fringe, including Llangollen jazz festival.
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, song thrush and greater spotted woodpecker are common, and if you’re lucky you may spot a lesser spotted woodpecker by the canal. In late Spring/Summer, pied flycatcher, 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 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 greater spotted woodpecker, willow warbler, nuthatch, greenfinch, dunnock, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, chaffinch and (in Winter) grey wagtails feed on the neighbourhood feeders. Green woodpeckers regularly visits the local anthills for an easy snack and a not-quite-so-friendly sparrowhawk makes infrequent (mostly unsuccessful) swoops into the garden. A short-eared owl sometimes hunts across the valley fields and in the evening the hoots of tawny owl are often heard, although we’ve not managed to see them. 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, Stonechat, Redstart and Great Tit nest in the vicinity of the garden and jackdaws nest in next door’s chimney!! A short drive or an hour’s walk away is World’s End, where black grouse “lek” in Spring, Ring Ouzel are relatively common and Dartford Warbler 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 North Wales coast is less than an hour’s drive away. There are many National Trust properties in the area, Chirk Castle, Erddig and Bodnant Gardens being arguably the best.
Many resources are available. Try http://www.visitwales.co.uk/regions-of-wales/areas-holiday-destinations-in-wales/north-wales-borderlands/and llangollen on the web for starters!!