Rodney’s Pillar Walk
- Grade – Moderate
- Start Point – Car park near village of Criggion – Grid Reference SJ294148
- Distance – 4 Miles (6.45 km)
- Ascent – Approximately 975ft (300m)
- Duration – 2-3 hours
- Terrain – Good paths but one short steep descent that can be avoided
A short hill walk that provides panoramic views over Shropshire an Mid Wales, this walk was taken from the “Favourite walks around Oswestry and the Borders” by the Oswestry Ramblers.
The Pillar is visible for many miles and can be seen long before entering the area. Built in1781 in honour of Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, the pillar was officially “opened” on 10th August 1782. The original Welsh inscription on the pillar reads “The highest pillars will fall, The strongest towers will decay, But the fame of Sir George Brydges Rodney shall increase continually, And his good name shall never be obliterated”.
Rodney was born in 1718 and died in 1792 although it is not believed he ever visited the area or had anything to do with the erection of the pillar. It is said the pillar was built on Breidden because oak from the area was sold to build Admirals Rodney’s ships and the local landowners wanted to honour him. Originally the pillar was topped with a “golden ball” which was destroyed in 1835 by lightening. A new copper ball was installed in 1847 when the original sustained further damage.
The walk is the easiest way up and down Breidden Hill but an Ordnance Survey map will reveal that the area is crisscrossed with paths and permissive forest trails. Fallow deer are commonly seen and woodland birds are abundant in the broadleaf and conifer forest. Whitethroats inhabit the scrub, stonechats the bracken and ravens, buzzards, peregrines, skylarks and meadow pipits can be seen. Before the walk, why not visit St Michael’s Church, Criggion. Its churchyard is surrounded by an unusual dry moat (a flood defence). After the walk, the Admiral Rodney pub, provides refreshments and food.
- Go through the car park gate next to an information board and turn left to go up a forestry road for about 30 to 40 minutes.
- At a fork in the road (GR303143) you will find a log bench with weird squirrels chainsaw-carved into it. Take the right hand fork and continue for 20 to 25 minutes along a flat track through the woods until you come to a pond where benches and a picnic table are located (GR296139).
- From the pond take the right hand fork and almost immediately turn right through a waymarked gate. Follow the path until you go through a gap in the fence and see a waymarker post directly ahead (GR295142).
- From the waymarker post continue straight on up the bridleway that curves up and around to the top of Breidden Hill passing a topography that provides information on all the surrounding hills and settlements.
- The triangulation pillar (GR295144) (365m) marks the top of Breidden Hill and should have been reached in about 1.25 – 1.5 hours. Rodney’s Pillar itself provides a good place to have some refreshments and view the wiggly oxbow bends of the river Severn below. Descend on a steep path beyond Rodney’s Pillar, bearing right after the white triangulation pillar that is indicated by a waymarker post part way down the path*
- At stile (GR297143) go over the stile and in a short distance go through a gate and walk on until a waymarker post is reached (GR303144).
- At waymarker post turn right and soon you will intersect the forest road you ascended. Turn left to return to start. *To avoid this steep descent you can retrace your steps back to the waymarker post in step 4, turn left and follow the fence to the stile at the start of step 6.
- The points marked 8 on the sketch map are alternative ways up and down but are very steep, wet and muddy.
This walk utilises permissive footpaths that are closed every Tuesday from 25th October to 1st February.
Llanymynech Heritage Site, Llanymynech Hill & the Montgomery Canal Walk
- Grade – Moderate
- Start Point – Public car park beside the Dolphin public house – Grid Reference SJ266209
- Distance – 3.9 miles (6.28km)
- Ascent – Approximately 1050ft (320m)
- Duration – 2.5 hours
- Terrain – Good paths and tracks. A varied walk through the Heritage Area then up onto the hill, across the golf course, back along the escarpment with its stunning views and finally along the Montgomery Canal. A shorter (and less steep) walk can be taken by leaving out the golf course and Llanymynech Hill. Although this walk is barely 4 miles allow time to view the Hoffman Kiln and other relics from the lime works.
Llanymynech has been an important settlement since a hill fort was established in the 10th century. Offa’s Dyke passes through the village and mining in the area dates back to Roman times. Most of the industrial remains today are from the 19th and 20th century limeworks. Much of the local rock outcrop on the hill above the village is the result of quarrying over the centuries. Canal and later rail transport allowed limestone quarrying and burning – to produce quicklime – to expand rapidly. The main uses of Llanymynech limestone were in agriculture, building, iron and steel. Portland cement spelled the end for the lime industry. A brave, final bid for survival was the construction of the Hoffman Kiln 1898, which ran until 1914. This was really a series of individual kilns arranged around a tunnel enabling the non-stop production of quicklime.
Rich hay meadows surround the Hoffman site and the woodland on the same site has an abundance of wild spring flowers. A good selection of alkaline preferring plants and interesting ferns grow near the kiln and many different orchids can be seen on the quarry site. There is a pair of peregrine falcons on the quarry site. At least 34 species of can be found on the heritage site including buzzards, finches, goldcrests, nuthatches, warblers and woodpeckers. This walk was taken from the “Favourite walks around Oswestry and the Borders” by the Oswestry Ramblers.
- At the rear of the car park, go through the gate and turn right onto the towpath. Go under the road bridge then immediately right up the steps, turn right at the top and into the small heritage car park. Walk into the heritage site along the lane from the car park. Note the disused Cambrian Railway line on your left above you. You pass a sunken tramway on your left which leads to the Middleton dock on your right. You may also notice a raised embankment in the trees running towards the canal and another larger dock on the right. Turn left towards the old stable block, this is now an educational centre with a mini kiln on the end of the building. Turn right at the junction and walk past a red brick floor with engine/compressor fittings to two draw kilns, built by Thomas Savin in 1871. Follow the wall to the stone steps just before the chimney (GR268212).
- Go up the steps to the Hoffman Kiln and Chimney. Continue along the track up past the Hoffman with embankment on the left and carry on for approximately 50m. Turn left at the stream and go through to the main path. Turn right and continue to the ruined red house which was the Tally house (GR267215).
- Continue bearing left under the A483. This is the start of the 1 in 4 inclined plane, known as the Bridgeman incline after the family who owned part of the hill and later had the title Earl of Bradford. Follow this, now a much rougher path, up the hill, through a metal kissing gate and continue up to the English winding drum house (GR267216) with its fitted replica self acting braked winch drum. The weight of the loaded trucks descending by the force of gravity was counterbalanced by them pulling the empty trucks up, although a brake was applied to stop them going to fast (There is also a restored 25ft high draw kiln close by).
- Turn right at the English winding drum house onto a wide metalled track below the quarry wall, further along there could be climbing activity. Keep a look out here for the protective fencing on the right surrounding the top of the four draw kilns. Just before a metal gate and kissing gate, turn left, cross the stream then left again following the stone wall and wrought iron fence on your right for a few metres. Turn right at the end of the wall and go up the hill along a narrow path which starts to climb again (beyond the metal gate is the Nature Reserve car park and the start of the shorter route) (GR271219).
- Go through a metal kissing gate, climb to a stile by a cottage, continue up, across another stile and join a track (bearing right). The track continues uphill and meets a tarmac lane at Holly Bank (GR270221).
- Turn left onto the lane and continue to its end. At the entrance to the golf club, follow the fingerpost for the bridal way across the green towards a single tree on the horizon. The bridleway is well marked across the golf course by a series of wooden guide posts. You should pass to the right of Llanymynech clubhouse, across a second stretch of grass and past a fairway (on your left) up a gritted track where there is a small hut. Follow this track to reach the tree first seen on the horizon, a silver birch (GR264221).
- Continue over the summit (admiring the views of the Berwyn Hills and Tanat valley) and follow the way marks to the edge of the golf course where the bridleway meets Offa’s Dyke Path (GR261219).
- Turn left onto Offa’s Dyke Path through a wooden gate. The path descends slowly through woods and enters open heathland (GR261217) which covers the old quarry workings and spoils heaps, giving panoramic views, with the Lime Kiln Chimney and Llanymynech spread out in the near distance. Follow the Offa’s Dyke Path marks carefully, passing the entrance to the quarry on your left (GR264216).
- Continue ahead passing the Welsh Winding House and inclined plane on the right until you reach a wooden kissing gate onto the upper path (GR265216)
- The Offa’s Dyke Path turns off right but continue on the current path to the English Winding House. You now repeat part of the path already covered continuing to the Nature Reserve car park (GR271219 – see step 4) but this time go through the metal gate and kissing gate until the track becomes a road. Continue on this road to the A483 (GR272218).
- Cross the A483 and before walking down Rhiew Revel Lane make a small diversion to the left to Gyn Lane and the gin wheel (GR272218) which used to haul the trams up from the canal. Return and continue down Rhiew Revel Lane and just before the Montgomery Canal bridge notice the six old lime kilns on the left (GR274218).
- Cross the bridge and join the towpath by turning left and going under the bridge. The canal is dry here but the intention is to make it navigable in the future. Follow the towpath past one of the restored black and white metal mile posts which seems to point to Newtown 25 miles/Welsh Frankton 10 miles in the wrong direction until you realise that the sign is curved, to tell the barges where they are going to rather than where they have come from. Continue past a quay at the old Cambrian Railway bridge, to the start of the navigable section of canal. Here a path branches right along the edges of the field towards the Lime Kiln Chimney but we continue on the left bank of the canal towards the Heritage Centre passing the George Watson Buck moored at the Centre and then return to the car park via the gate from the towpath.