Waun Y Llyn, Hope Mountain

The ‘mountains’ in Wales might not be the highest ones ever but they sure offer spectacular views. And Hope Mountain in Flintshire is no exception.

I started my circular walk in Coed Talon, trying to include some local industrial history along the way. From the Railway Inn, I followed the disused railway line towards Llanfynydd. What is now a quiet and peaceful wildlife corridor including Wood Pit, a wetland nature reserve, was once part of the Mold-Brymbo railway line and a very noisy and bustling place. The area was heavily mined and trucks transporting coal, oil and stone from the nearby works and mines used the tracks. A far cry from the sound of birds chirping away and woodpeckers that greet you now.

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If it looks manmade, it probably is. The disused railway line.

A far cry from the sound of birds chirping away and woodpeckers that greet you now.

After leaving the old railway line it was uphill to the top and Waun Y Llyn Country Park.

Waun Y Llyn has always drawn people up here. The panoramic views over Snowdonia, Liverpool and far beyond are amazing especially on a sunny day like this.

People used to take a bracing walk up here from the fashionable spa in Caergwrle 100 years ago. Though it would have been less peaceful up here back then.

 

hope mountain stone stile

Love this kind of stile: hole on the left for dogs, steps on right for humans

 

In the 19th and early 20th century, the hard silica sandstone of Waun Y Llyn was quarried and taken down the hillside by tramway to Coed Talon where it was ground into silica powder, used in glass making. Millstone grit was also quarried from the mountain and used for buildings and millstones for mills int the Alyn Valley below.

 

hope mountain winding top

Remains of the stone base of the top winding house.

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Winding house at the bottom

 

All is ‘tickety-boo’ – The train is ready to depart

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Amongst many things, the British are famous for queuing. They queue orderly almost everywhere, even at the bus stop, come rain or shine. But believe it or not, there are exceptions. One example being the London tube, which can be quite challenging if you’ve hit rush hour and are not used to the frenzy. But to this date my favourite would have to be London Euston train station.

Just a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of witnessing a flock of people loosing any bit of countenance at said station. London Euston, and especially the departure hall (which currently gets a bit of an update) is not one of railway architecture’s gems. It feels like a big cinema just without seats, popcorn and atmosphere. Everyone is standing in the slightly dated departure hall, heads turned upwards, eyes locked staring at the screens, waiting for the platform of their trains to be announced. It’s crowded, there’s nowhere to sit and people are firmly rooted to the square meter they could get hold of, not willing to budge the tiniest bit. Navigating through this crowd can be as challenging as negotiating an obstacles course and you don’t want to run over somebody’s foot with your suitcase. There is something magnetic about the screens, too. I had told myself over and over again, that this time I would not become one of them and instead get a coffee, something to read and relax. I just wanted to take a very, very quick look if my train was still on time. And I was hooked. I grabbed something to eat from one of the food stalls, found myself the perfect spot and stared at the screen munching away on my sandwich.

And then it happens and the long awaited moment arrives. The platform number magically appears next to the train and it seems as if Apple has just announced a half price sale. Every other waiting person is running towards the recently announced platform, trying not to bump into the other still staring half with their suitcases and bags, dodging children and jumping over small dogs, all the while holding onto their tickets, food and drink. It’s like they have never heard of the principle of queuing in all their lives.

However, I like traveling by train. (I am even old enough to remember the times when train carriages in Germany had a long corridor on one side and several little compartments on the other, seating 6 passengers in two rows of three facing each other. Nobody wanted the middle seat, like in an airplane nowadays, but the advantage was that you only had to deal with the noise and smells of 5 other people instead of way too many in today’s carriages.) What I like most about train travel though is that I get to look at the country as it passes by, something I can’t do this extensively when I’m driving my car, and that I can walk around on long journeys and maybe get a beverage or snack.

It is educational, too. Announcements at Welsh train stations are bilingual so I try to learn numbers and other simple words by listening to them and their English translations. Or you can learn how to pronounce place names and not only Welsh ones. It took me a while to figure out that “Lemster” was actually a town I had passed several times by car, namely “Leominster”. So at least next time I’ll pass it I know better.

A walk through industrial history – Minera Country Park

One day, I had just moved to Wrexham, I picked up this leaflet from the Tourist Information called “Healthy Walks in and around Wrexham’s Country Parks” which sounded like a good idea for me to get to know the area. And though I had explored these walks quite early on, there was still one left. The Minera Country Park Lead Mines Walk. I had been to Minera Lead Mines several times but had never managed to walk beyond that point. So as it was a sunny day I decided it was time to do so. And what a surprise it had in store for me.

engine house, Minera, lead mines

The large engine house at Minera Lead Mines.

Although it mentioned in the leaflet that the “walk is packed with geological and historical interest” and that there is Minera Quarry at the end, I had no idea that there would be so many ruins along the way and that Minera Limestone Quarry was once the largest lime workings in the north of Wales and were only closed in 1972. I had to find this out afterwards when I was back at home.
As the leaflet gives a good description of the walk itself but unfortunately not of the ruins along the way I won’t be able to tell you exactly what you see on the following pictures. I’ll try my best though.

The name Minera has its source in Latin meaning “ore” or “mine”. The lead mining in this area dates back to the Middle Ages and had become very productive and prifitable by the mid 19th Century.

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Quite a few things lying around. They explain everything on open days.

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Wheel at the top of the engine house.

The most prominent remnant of that era is the large engine house at Meadow Shaft, which housed a steam engine which powered pumps as the mines were prone to flooding.

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Looking back at the engine house

Passing the engine house I headed for the old railway line when I came across this ruin. No idea what it once was. My guess would be it had something to do with mining?! It definitely looks industrial.

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Maybe the remains of a chimney?

Time to move on but not far away I spotted this derelict building on some farmland.

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It was fenced off (and if there is a proper fence, a sign private property or danger – I won’t go). There wasn’t too much left anyway even the sheep on the field weren’t interested.

tree-figure

Nice idea

You can really tell that you are walking along a disused railway line as the way is just too straight to be natural. The railway was built to transport lead and limestone from the quarries and mines to Wrexham and distribute them further from there on, I believe. On some parts of the way some of the old stone sleepers are still visible.

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You have to look closely to see the sleepers

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I had no idea there were public toilet facilities provided along the way…

Another ruin near the old Minera goods station. Maybe another kiln? I don’t know…

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Next to the goods station you can see lime kilns behind the trees. Lots of them, just like a long wall that goes on and on.

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You can just make out the openings behind the trees

I believe there were two banks of kilns like this, plus one of the spectacular Hoffman kilns which I didn’t manage to find. I probably just turned around too early, didn’t recognise it at the time or went into the wrong direction in the end, not even knowing there was one. Never mind.

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More close up

I think these are draw kilns. Again, everything was fenced off. And very angry dogs nearby…

Getting closer to the quarry I spotted these ruins in between the woods. As there was no fence this time just a small stream to cross I took a closer look.

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It looked like there were several buildings once.

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Must have been quite big ones too

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I guess it was once part of something bigger…

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More ruins further into the woods

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Looks like another kiln. I didn´t want to venture too far.

Getting closer to my destination…

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It already looks more like a quarry.

Finally the quarry. Or at least as close as you are allowed to venture into it. Did I mention fences already?

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It´s much bigger than what you see on this picture.

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I really wanted to have a closer look and maybe get some good views across the region as well, so decided to venture along one of the public footpaths.

Some other ruin on the way.

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No idea what it was

I was getting conscious of the time as well so I just walked up to the top and had a quick look.

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Maybe this gives you a better idea of the scale

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Looking back. I got the views too.

sheep

Finally some company

horse

The horse probably had the best view of all

Then it was back again as I wanted to reach my car back at the Minera Lead Mines visitor centre before dark.

sky

Interesting sky

There was just one other thing I had spotted earlier on and as I knew I was almost back at my car made a slight detour. This was probably just an old barn or something. But it still intrigued me.

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Back at the visitor centre I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

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sunset

There is much more to see so it´s well worth a visit.