With wonderful wildlife and walking routes, cute cafes and nooks to read books in, and plenty of history and culture, find out why Ruthin is a must-visit this summer…
At Lyons Holiday Parks, we’re well-known for our beachside breaks. But what about our countryside escapes? Lyons Woodlands Hall in Ruthin sits among a mass of rhododendron trees, with panoramic views of the Vale of Clwyd and beyond. This former 18th-century country park is the perfect rural retreat if you’re keen to get away from the hustle and bustle of the seaside this summer. Enthroned in nature, heritage, history and culture, we’d recommend adding this quaint Welsh town to your bucket list this season.
What is Ruthin?
Visit Wales have put it fantastically: “Ruthin is like nowhere else in Wales. It’s a surprising little town layered with centuries of history and set in one of the most beautiful landscapes in Britain. But that doesn’t mean modern life has passed us by. Here you’ll find elegant 21st-century dining, stylish independent shops and a lively modern arts scene.”
This historical town dates back to the 13th century, with some of the original architecture still seen to this day! This borough market town (similarly to St Asaph, where Lyons Eryl Hall is located) sits on the summit of a considerable hill, with a small stream drifting by. Ruthin remains a cultural market town, with plenty of boutiques, shops, businesses and tourist attractions which brings in thousands of visitors each year.
The history of Ruthin
1. Ruthin Castle
This medieval town is most famous for its castle – or rather, the now ruins of this once proud pile. Also known as the Red Fortress, Ruthin Castle was constructed in the late 13th century by Dafydd ap Gruffydd, on a red sandstone cliff overlooking the now Vale of Clwyd. Originally given the Welsh name of Castell Coch yn yr Gwernfor (Welsh Red Castle in the Great Marsh), its remains now form part of Ruthin Castle Hotel.
In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell’s forces demolished the castle under de-fortification efforts, following a long state of disrepair that began at the start of the English Civil War. From 1923-1950, the castle became the first private hospital that treated obscure internal diseases. It’s said to be haunted and was investigated by the TV show Most Haunted in 2018.
2. Ruthin Gaol
This Pentonville-style prison dates back to 1654, when the original prison was built at the bottom of Clwyd Street to replace the Old Court House. This is where the unemployed were sent to work, but it wasn’t until John Howard’s investigations into prison conditions that a new model prison was built in 1775. After much history and redevelopment, the Ruthin County Gaol became HM Prison Ruthin, covering the counties of Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Merionethshire as of 1 April 1878.
3. Nantclwyd Y Dre Historic House and Gardens
Winners of the 2017 and 2018 Hidden Gems Award, this tourist hotspot allows visitors to take a trip through the seven ages of Nantclwyd y Dre, Wales’ most ancient townhouse. Work started in 1435, with beautiful restoration works taking place over the years to coincide with the town’s residents and fashions.
You can witness the colony of Lesser Horseshoe bats in the attic room, as well as use the interactive services and media screens to learn more about the history. The Lord’s Garden is also a beautiful must-see, and admission to this retreat is included in the price of admission (adult: £7.00; children aged 5 to 16 years old: £6.00; children under 5: free.)
Natural wonders of Ruthin
1. Clocaenog Forest
This world-renowned forest takes its name from the village of Clocaenog, near Ruthin, meaning ‘mossy knoll’ in English. The forest itself spans over 40 square miles across Conwy County and Denbighshire and is ran by Natural Resources Wales. The many miles of quiet forest roads make Clocaenog Forest an ideal location for family cycling and a short cycle trail is waymarked from Bod Petryal – the part of the forest closest to Ruthin and Lyons Woodlands Hall.
2. Horseshoe Pass
Known in Welsh as Bwlch yr Oernant (pass of the cold stream), this beauty spot dates from 1811 and was one of a series of turnpike roads. This scenic viewpoint attracts hikers, tourists, and cyclists throughout the year with its long and winding rural roads.
3. Clwydian Range Mountains
The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a wonderful area to explore both on foot and via bike. It offers plenty of challenging long-distance routes of national importance, with shorter walks available for the less nimble or time-constrained. Whichever route you take, every visitor is set to be equally rewarded with breathtaking views and stunning landscapes.
Wildlife in Ruthin
1. Red Squirrels
Clocaenog Forest isn’t just known for its idyllic landscape, but also for its large scurry of red squirrels. The red squirrel is one of the UK’s rarest mammals, and the Clocaenog Red Squirrels Trust (CRST) aims to protect and conserve red squirrels in Clocaenog Forest, North Wales.
2. Birds of Prey
With stunning habitats both afoot and in the air, it’s no wonder that Ruthin is home to some glorious birds of prey. Pack a picnic and those binoculars and look out for the white-tailed eagle, the rosy starling, the black stork and the white stork that each frequent the rolling hills of Ruthin.
Graig Wyllt, located near Graigfechan, literally means ‘wild rock’ – what a name to describe this former limestone quarry that’s brimming with wildlife to this day! The charming mixture of deciduous woodland, sheltered scrub areas and grassland make the whole reserve a great place for butterflies, including grayling, purple hairstreak and ringlet.
1. Dyffryn Clwyd Footgolf Centre
The only purpose-built footgolf course in North Wales, where the two sports of football and golf are celebrated in style. This family-friendly course based in Ruthin can challenge any keen athlete. Dyffryn Clwyd Footgolf Centre uses a course that resembles a golf course but uses footballs and larger sized cups.
2. Llangollen Railway
3. Ruthin Craft Centre
This artsy centre offers a fun day out in the form of exciting and creative sessions and events for children and their families to enjoy all year round. Work alongside a team of talented artists and crafters in the 5-11-year-old craft club, or gauge the expertise of professional workers in the master classes for 11-14-year-olds.
Fun for Adults
1. Beauty on the Square
One of this year’s Discount Location Guide partnerships, this beauty parlour offers a variety of treatments to suit any need or occasion. Treat yourself to a manicure, pedicure, hair treatment, massage, as well as cosmetic services for brows and lashes. Owners will receive a free gift when they visit this year as part of their Lyons membership at Beauty on the Square too!
2. The Sugarplum Tearoom
Another fantastic local business in this year’s Discount Location Guide! At The Sugarplum Tearoom, you can treat yourself to breakfasts, lunch, brunch, afternoon teas, and a wide selection of artisan coffees and cold drinks. This rustic countryside cafe boasts indoor and outdoor seating – and Lyons owners get a free hot drink with any order.
3. The Myddelton Grill on the Square
After all that trekking around this glorious market town, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite! This family-friendly bar and grill offer homemade food (made from scratch) which is carefully cooked on an authentic charcoal grill. Find out more about the Myddelton Grill on the Square by clicking this link.
What does Lyons Woodlands Hall have to offer?
Nestled among the hills, vales, and trees just outside Ruthin, Lyons Woodlands Hall is the ultimate sanctuary for anyone seeking some peace and quiet.
Listen to the sound of chirping birds in the trees, the soft gentle lull of the summer wind, and take in glorious views of Moel Famau and the Clwydian Mountain Range from the comfort of your hot tub, decking, or the wonderful conservatory/ restaurant.
This on-site bar and restaurant caters to diners of all ages from the glory of the former 18th-century country manor. Guests and owners alike can enjoy the quaint and quiet setting at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make the most of the views at our new outdoor gym, or have a round of tennis in the sunshine. Four-legged friends can enjoy the dog-friendly area, and there’s plenty of local walking routes to keep you busy!