Clocaenog Forest is a vast underrated and unbeknownst to many, stunning woodland.
Looking out of the kitchen window on an early Sunday morning and seeing torrential rain and wind isn’t the best of conditions to decide to pack the kids up in the car and head for the hills. Something drove us to do it anyway and for once we were rewarded with one of the most picturesque winter wonderland experiences we’ve ever had.
Full page map here and postcode we followed is LL15 2DF
Now this doesn’t happen, well, ever in our experience. So it’s a tough one to ‘sell’ to you if you’re looking to replicate this experience.
What’s great is that Clocaenog Forest is huge and full of separate wonderful trails to walk through. I’d really recommend just grabbing an OS map and having a look at all the different places to go, there’s numerous things that fit all weather conditions, abilities and group sizes. We plan to do a lot more there for sure.
We opted to go and find Lord Bagots Memorial which is on the summit of Llys y Frenhines next to a trig point just as you enter the forest from the North-East.
“A bit of history…
“ Clocaenog common was first enclosed by Inclosure Commissioners and extensively planted with timber by Lord Bagot in the early C19; the timber was felled duing and after the Great War. It was replaced by the present Clocaenog Forest under the Forestry Commissioners commencing in 1930.
The memorial was built as a summit landmark to commemmorate the completion of the planting by Lord Bagot in 1830.””
As we approached Clocaenog, it became pretty apparent that we were not going to get rained on but rather snowed on. The snow we thought had well passed us now after our jaunt up to the Devils Kitchen in Snowdonia previously. As the snow came down we were a little worried (I WAS VERY WORRIED ;)) that maybe there would be too much snow and the car wouldn’t make it up there. The road can be super treacherous, so don’t carry on if you don’t feel confident driving in those conditions (there are some nice low level walks I’m sure around).
We managed to park the car close opposite the path to walk up, got out, kitted up and headed out.
Luckily we packed waterproofs, a snow suit for Finn and a million pairs of gloves. (I’m writing a post on our winter kit as we speak).
The route we took is a bit mad and we decided to go ‘off piste’ and walk through the dense forest through the snow and off the path. We’re idiots. It proved really difficult, adventurous and fun, but difficult. I used the OS App to guide us through it, but we ended up getting onto the summit and seeing the monument but being unable to actual reach it because of masses of gorse.
Our advice would be to follow the circular path signs, the route is really well sign posted. If you want a quick jaunt just head straight up the hill from the car. The path is direct up hill to the monument and from there you can hop down the other side and take the circular path back.
The vast amount of trees, dense growth and crisp air are what makes this place wonderful. It’s super quiet and so big that its easy to not see anyone. We didn’t see a soul up there the whole day. It is a risk heading out in terrible weather, but sometimes it really pays off and can turn into one of the trips you’ll remember forever.
Make sure you check out the vlog of the trip and the pictures below. Clocaenog in the summer is definitely on the cards.