A green valley with a dark past – Greenfield Valley Heritage Park

Sunshine, autumnal colours, woodlands, pools, ancient monuments, industrial ruins, the “Lourdes of Wales” and a nice stroll – a perfect Sunday afternoon in the Greenfield Valley Heritage Park and St. Winefride’s Well.

I had passed both sites many times in the past so I thought it was about time to pay them a visit. Greenfield Valley Heritage Park (Welsh: Dyffryn Maes Glas) is a country park located near Holywell and has a rich industrial past. Its factories played a big part in the Industrial Revolution. If you follow the stream and ponds through the woods you come across some factory ruins and can walk to St. Winefride’s Well in Holywell.

pigs

Feel-god pigs by the car park.

I started at a car park near the visitor centre at the bottom of the valley. Unfortunately, as I was out of season, a couple of things were closed including the visitor centre itself, the farm and some other buildings. However the ruins of Basingwerk Abbey are open all year round and very impressive.

Basingwerk-Abbey

The abbey was founded in 1132 by the 2nd Earl of Chester, who brought Benedictine monks from Savigny Abbey in southern Normandy but became part of the Cistercian Order later on.

Basingwerk-Abbey1

Only some of the walls are left today.

Basingwerk-Abbey2

It always amazes me how some architectural details survive.

Basingwerk-Abbey3

In 1536, abbey life came to an end with the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of King Henry VIII.

Basingwerk-Abbey4

Two centuries earlier a Welsh seer thought the roof on the refectory would do very nicely on a little church under Moel Famau – it did. Another part of the roof covers the North Nave of a church in Ruthin and a window went to another church.

I would have loved to take a look at all the farm buildings but as the area was closed I could only get a glimpse through the fences.

Farm-House

I believe this is Cwm Llydan Farmhouse – a reconstructed 19th century upland farmhouse

Making my way past the Wire Mill Garden (which was closed as well but the water wheel was still running) it was uphill from now on in a very gentle way.

Lower-Cotton-Mill2

Lower Cotton Mill – one of many cotton mills that flourished throughout the valley.

Lower-Cotton-Mill1

Remains of machinery lies outside the factory.

Lower-Cotton-Mill3

You’re not allowed to enter the building on the left but you can walk around the ruins.

Water is a constant companion on the way – either as a stream or one of many pools.

Flour-Mill-Pool-

Flour-Mill-Pool2

Next stop was the remains of the Meadow Mill.

Meadow-Mill1

The Meadow Mill built in 1787 produced rolled copper sheets.

Meadow-Mill2

Only some of the outer walls remain.

Meadow-Mill3

It must have been quite a big complex in its days. And probably very noisy too.

Meadow-Mill

Meadow-Mill4

Water cascading down from the next pond.

Grienfield-Valley-pond-reflection

Loving how the colours are reflecting in the water.

The Battery Works employed local people to shape pots and pans from brass sheets, the energy needed to do this was made by using a Water Wheel, the water came from the Battery Pond. Next to the Battery Factory is the ruins of Battery Row, were many of the employees would have lived. The Battery Factory now lies next to the Battery Pond in ruin but it looked like there was some restoration work being done on some parts.

Clock-Tower

Clock Tower.

Battery-Works2a

Unfortunately I could only walk around the perimeter as the rest was closed off.

Battery-Works

Passing the Battery Pond and another chimney I could spot on the way I made my way to St. Winefride’s Well. The legend of Saint Winifred tells how in AD 660, Caradoc, the son of a local prince, severed the head of  young Winifred after she spurned his advances. A spring rose from the ground at the spot where her head fell and she was later restored to life by her uncle, St. Beuno. The well is known as “the Lourdes of Wales” and is mentioned in an old rhyme as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales. It has been a pilgrimage site since the 7th century.

st-winefride's-well

The bathing pool with a couple of changing tents on the right.

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The present shrine is a 2-storey Late Perpendicular Gothic building from the beginning of the 16th century and is unique in the world.

st-winefride's-well3

The source of the healing waters that have been said to cause miraculous cures.

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Decoration at the top of a pillar showing man carrying a disabled companion.

st-winefride's-well-chapel

Window in an adjacent chapel.

I really enjoyed my day out, so if you are in the area it is worthwhile a visit.

Just one thing on a personal note: I parked my car on a car park at the back of the old school house (I think) and when I got back there was a Border Collie running around. He seemed to belong to the area (maybe to the farm) and was wearing a collar. But he really doesn’t like cars! When I started my car and tried to leave, he was jumping at it and barking like there was no tomorrow – maybe he thought I was a sheep he needed to herd. Anyway, I wanted to thank the kind man who distracted him long enough so I could exit the car park. Would have been a long evening otherwise…

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