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Things to do in Ruthin, North Wales

Ruthin (Rhuthun in Welsh) is a lovely market town at the head of the Vale of Clwyd.

Ruthin town centre © Mr G W Smith
Ruthin town centre

Approaching from the north you can look across flat meadows to the town on its hill, the church spire pointing heavenward and counterbalanced by the dull red brick of Ruthin Castle.

Visitors to the town can park at the bottom of the hill and climb up past a series of quaint shops selling everything from haute couture to sturdy wellington boots and de-worming guns for sheep and cattle.

At the bottom of the hill is Ruthin Gaol, a former prison turned into an attractive and interesting museum.

At the top of the hill are the Eyes of Ruthin, the seven gable windows in the roof of a hotel.

Sealed knot © Mr G W Smith
Sealed knot

On the opposite side of the square is Maen Hywel, on which King Arthur is alleged to have murdered Hywel when he was a rival for the affections of Guinevere.

As Hywel was the brother of Gildas the historian, that accounts for the fact that Arthur was omitted from his history books.

On the third side of the square is an attractive half-timbered building housing a bank but at one time a courthouse; the remains of the gibbet from which the last Catholic priest executed for treason was hung can be seen.

The parish church, which can be reached from the fourth side of the square, has a lovely painted timber roof and a fascinating Easter Sepulchre painted by a young woman in the 1920s as a memorial to her brother killed in the Great War.

In the scene the women come to the tomb of Jesus - entirely conventional except that they are depicted as 1920s flappers!

The castle is a hotel and though you can stay there, it is not open to casual visitors.

The countryside around Ruthin is beautiful, dotted with charming little villages, all well worth driving through.

Particularly attractive is Nant y Garth Pass, where the road winds up through thickly forested hillsides that are a blaze of colour in the autumn.

Description by Kendall Down

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* Distances shown are in a direct line. Distances by road will be longer.
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