*Please note these car parks are not open at present due to government restrictions. The purpose of this blog is to inspire future plans.
With us currently only being able to exercise from our doorstep we thought we would delve into the past to look at one of our most popular landmarks and walking spots in North East Wales, Moel Famau. The name literally means ‘Mother Mountain’ in Welsh, and at 554m (1818ft) it is well named as the highest summit in the Clwydian Range AONB.
Sitting in the middle of the heather-clad hills of the central part of the Range, Moel Famau offers stunning views across the Vale of Clwyd to Snowdonia and the North Wales coast. One of the best ways to reach it is via Offa’s Dyke National Trail which celebrates its 50th year this year. Topped by the Jubilee Tower this iconic landmark is visible for many miles around.
Built for the golden jubilee of “mad” King George III over 200 years ago, the Jubilee Tower changed the profile of Moel Famau its foundation stone laid with great fanfare on Thursday, 25th October 1810.
The final design by architect Thomas Harrison was elaborate and impressive, in the soon-to-be-fashionable Egyptian style – a rectangular base with four bastions and sloping doorways, which can still be seen today, topped by an obelisk.
Squabbles over lack of money and poor workmanship ensued and the building was only finished, to a less grandiose plan, in 1817. By 1846 one corner had collapsed and the pointing had deteriorated. Money was raised for repairs but further damage was apparent by 1856.
Deterioration was rapid and in 1862 the obelisk collapsed dramatically with a tremendous crash during the calm following a fierce gale that had lasted for two days. It is said could be heard as far away as Denbigh Castle green.
Over succeeding decades various rebuilding schemes failed for lack of money and support until 1969 when the Denbigh and Flint branch of the Country Landowners’ Association decided that their contribution to European Conservation Year 1970 would be to tidy up the ruins and secure them from further deterioration.
In 1974 Clwyd County Council made Moel Famau a Country Park and in 1985 the Clwydian Range was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In 1995 Cadw listed the Jubilee Tower to give it legal protection because of its architectural and cultural significance.
Today, Moel Famau and the ruined Jubilee Tower provide a dramatic backdrop to the daily lives of the communities of both Flintshire and Denbighshire. They give the area a strong sense of place and act as a beacon to visitors from Cheshire, Merseyside and further afield.
The summit of Moel Famau is a place which is often used to mark special events in 2010 thousands of people made the ascent to mark the bicentenary of the Jubilee Tower with an unforgettable evening of fireworks, lasers, lanterns, dancing and music.
In 2014 the AONB team were asked to be part of a national project to light beacons at iconic locations across the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Jubilee Tower, along with the summit of Snowdon was selected as an anchor beacon location in North Wales, meaning it was one of the first to be lit. A huge cylindrical beacon, lit by gas burners was built on the top of the tower on a clear summer evening, giving another cause for celebration at the summit.
When restrictions lift, Moel Famau will again be one of the places for people to return to safely, to enjoy the fresh air and the breath taking views. It is important however that we respect our landscapes and check with the AONB sites to ensure they are visited safely, following the countryside code and not over run when restrictions do lift.
image by @duskin1983 on Instagram