moel famau | a spring stroll on the bare hill

I woke up early today because the lovely warm sun was streaming thicker than usual through the white curtains. It’s a perk of being a musician – I have really late nights, but I also get to sleep in until I’m good and ready to take on the day.

Sadly, if I retire at 2am and rise at 10am, by the time I’ve had breakfast and gotten dressed, I’ve missed the nicest part of the morning. I often work from home during the day, so sometimes I end up heading straight for my computer without even the benefit of a fresh air commute.

But today I was up early. So I dug out my hiking boots and headed out of the city for some mountain air and exercise.

Just 40 minutes from Chester is Moel Famau, the highest hill within the Clwydian Range (elevation 554m), on the boundary between Denbighshire and Flintshire in Wales. Moel Famau, which means “Mother Mountain” in Welsh, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and features a 5.5km circular walking trail with stunning views across the Vale of Clwyd to Snowdonia and the North Wales coast.

Walking trails at Moel Famau vary in length and difficulty.

Paths are clearly signposted and colour coded.

Very small sections of the path were muddy, but the majority were dry and manageable. Besides, what’s spring without a bit of muck?


Later in the year the moors are vibrant purple with heather.


The Jubilee Tower was built in 1810 to commemorate the golden jubilee of George III. Designed by Thomas Harrison of Chester, it was to be an Egyption style obelisk, in three stages. The tower was never completed, and in 1862 a stong storm blew it down.  (


The walk is part of the Offa’s Dyke National Trail – the 177 mile route along the English-Welsh border from Chepstow to Prestatyn based on the 8th century earthwork built by King Offa of Mercia.


According to the Clwydian Rand AONB, “The mountains here are covered in heather moorland, an internationally important habitat. But what remains is only a fragment of what was here 100 years ago.  Forestation and agricultural improvement has led to a 40% loss since the Second World War.”

There are several other trails with varying degrees of difficulty/length, but the view from the very top at Jubilee Tower is easily doable in a couple of hours.

I only realised afterward that an audio tour of the trail is available for free by calling 01352 230123 from your mobile, or downloading the mp3 files here.

After a trip up and down the mountain, and some lunch at a local Welsh pub, I was back in Chester by mid-afternoon feeling refreshed, alive, and full of Spring!


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