Corwen Walking Festival

The first weekend in September sees the return of the Corwen Walking Festival. This popular event provides walkers with the opportunity to explore the southern end of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are walks planned around the town, along the River Dee and up to the highest points of the Berwyn Range. There is also an opportunity to improve your navigation skills, with the inclusion of a ‘Map and Compass Skills and Basic Navigation’ lecture on the Saturday evening.

Denbighshire is well blessed with areas that are perfect for walking. In addition to the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley there is also the Clocaenog Forest, and the Denbigh Moors. For those who like to get out into the wilder parts of the county you may be interested to know that Denbighshire Archives holds many items which could enrich your walking experience.

Our historic maps of the county are particularly useful as they provide you with a window into the past. This can give you the opportunity to see if a particular place or feature of the landscape existed at a particular date, and allows you to contrast the modern landscape with how it once looked.

1st Edition OS map for Llandyrnog

The oldest series of maps held at Denbighshire Archives are the Tithe Maps, which represent one of the first large-scale, systematic mapping surveys of England and Wales. They were produced between 1838 and 1850 as a direct result of the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, which replaced the ancient system of payment of tithes in produce with monetary payments. In conjunction with the apportionment, which is the written accompaniment to the map, they contain an abundance of detail as they hold details relating to the land owner, tenants, property or field names, acreage of land and land use. Each map is divided by parish. Ordnance Survey Maps have become the trusted companion for outdoor enthusiasts in this country. Here at the archive we hold the first 3 editions of the County Series, which were produced between the late 1870s, and the 1920s. These are available on request in the search room.

In addition to our historic maps we also have several published books on the shelves in our search room which can also can also provide walkers with valuable information. In particular, ‘The Drovers’ Roads of Wales’, by Fay Godwin and Shirley Toulson. For hundreds of years prior to the introduction of the railways, drovers made a living by driving cows, sheep, pigs and geese from the rural heartlands of Wales to the large markets of England. This fascinating book acts as a modern day guidebook to these historic routes, providing maps and detailed descriptions, allowing you to walk in the footprints of these hardy folk

‘The Drovers’ Roads of Wales’ by Fay Godwin and Shirley Toulson

There were two routes that passed through Denbighshire. One route to north was bound for Wrexham and Chester which passed through Ruthin, Llanarmon-yn-Ial, and Llandegla. The other route travelled through the south of the county, entering Corwen from Bala, going through the Berwyn Mountains en route to Llangollen.

Shirley Toulson highlights the importance of Corwen to the Drovers, illustrating that this was the point where many of the northern droving routes converged as they headed east. The town was also strategically significant to the historic A5 London to Dublin coaching route, which passed through the town as it headed for Holyhead. Evidence of this can be seen in the various Trade Directories available in our search room. The records of Turnpike Roads (QSD/DT), contained within our Quarter Session records, show the development of this and many other roads.


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2 Responses to “Corwen Walking Festival”

  1. Ken Richards Says:

    The drovers routes to Edeyrnion from other parts of North Wales are probably clearer to trace than the routes outward to markets in England. Drovers favoured older trackways not only as as a matter of tradition, but also to avoid costs along the turnpikes, and Thomas Telford’s Holyhead Road, that were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

    My investigation into droving in Edeynion in the 19th century suggests that drovers conducted business at markets and fairs in Corwen, Cynwyd, and Bryneglywys, and that the preferred routes outward from Edeyrnion ran parallel to the current A5104 to Llandegla, Wrexham, Mold and Chester, or across Llantysilio Mountain on the trackway from Bryneglwys to Rhewl and Llangollen. Other routes may have included the trackway across the Berwyn from Cynwyd to the Ceiriog Valley, and the “pilgrims’ route” through Bettws Gwerfil Goch to the Clwyd Valley.

    The construction of the railways along the Borderlands in the 1840’s and the Dyfrdwy valley in the 1860’s changed patterns again, leading to a significant decline in the practice as it had evolved over several centuries. Some local drovers became successful livestock farmers and dealers.

    The principal sources in the investigation included: Atgofion Amaethwr gan Gomer Roberts wedi eu Goluygu gan Syr Bryner Jones. (Cymeithas Hanes a Chofnodion Sir Meirionnydd); the publications of Richard Moore-Colyer on the Welsh Cattle Trade and the Welsh Cattle Drovers; and, accounts of the effects of the Cattle Disease of the 1860’s (Pla yr Anifeiliaid), in Welsh Newspapers Online. The ballad, or poem, titled “Y Bardd yn Ffair Bryn Eglwys”, by Jac Law Fawr published in the Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser of 29 August 1863 (page 7), is also interesting for the tongue in cheek description of porthmyn at local fairs and markets.

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