Dee Valley

mediumDespite the gloomy forecasts, the day turned out to be a wonderful day of sunshine and warmth - a real treat for walkers on this route which affords spectacular views across the Dee Estuary and the Wirral peninsula.

The walk started with a picnic lunch at Basingwerk Abbey, Greenfield - a suitable place to begin, as it marks the start point of the North Wales Pilgrim Way - a footpath that leads across North Wales to Aberdaron, and then, by boat, to Bardsey Island - the destination of pilgrims in medieval times, and which is still a place of peace and sanctuary today.  

mediumThe North Wales Pilgrim Way has recently been re-established as a long distance pilgrimage route for 21st Century pilgrims, and it is hoped that it will appear on OS maps during 2013. (For further information visit www.pilgrim-way-north-wales.orgThe photo shows a mural of the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way, created by groups of students working with artist Neil Dalrymple.

Walking up through the Greenfield Valley, walkers passed the remains of the mills and factories which once were thriving industries in the area.  The heritage site has been tastefully preserved, and is an interesting area to pause and consider the history and the amazing achievements of architects, industrialists and the workers over many generations.

The pathway leads to St Winefride’s Well at Holywell.  This is the site, according to legend, where Winefride’s head was cut off by her would-be rapist Caradog, but restored to life the the prayers of her uncle, St Beuno.  The shrine at the Well is a two-storey Late Perpendicular Gothic building, erected in the early part of the 16th Century, and is quite unique; the well and shrine is described as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales.  

mediumThe well, still a major place of Catholic pilgrimage, invites all visitors to pause and to share its mix of history, beauty and peace.  It has long been a place of prayer and spiritual encounter, and there are interesting exhibits and testimonies to view and experience.  Members enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the site, and acknowledged the sentiments in the exhibitions that faith, devotion and commitment are essential ingredients to deep spiritual experiences and for healing and wholeness.

(For more information visit the Well’s website:  and for teaching resources visit the Learning Wales hub:  
On this page you will need to select “View all” on NGfLCymru resources panel, then go to KS 4, then RE, then Christianity, and St Winefride’s resources should become available.)

From the Well, the path of the walk proceeded along what is locally known as ‘The Levels’.  This is a path way that once saw mining wagons trundeling along it.  A footpath through woods and hedgerows gives access to the playing fields and playground at the bottom of the Holway housing estate.  

mediumMembers of the walking group discussed the interesting motto painted on the walls of the Holway Kids Activity centre: “We make a living by what we get; We make a life by what we give.”  Though perhaps not original to the play group, the sentiments were welcomed and praised - how much this kind of ideal is needed in the world of secularist focus and promotion.

This idea could also lend itself to some interesting RE work, with creative possibilities too!

Walking down Moor Lane, and across the fields brought walkers to the crest of the hill, with incredible views across the Dee Estuary and the Wirral - made all the more spectacular by the clear and blue skies all around. 
mediumThen began the descent, traversing the hillside to pick up the Pennant Way.  Views of the ship, the Duke of Lancaster, permanently docked near Mostyn were to the fore during this part of the walk.  Passing through a woodland vale, with wild garlic growing profusely all around, led out onto a small lane, taking walkers to the busy coast road.
After crossing this, and the main Holyhead rail line, the walk proceeded along the Coastal Path - right alongside the improved sea defences. It was really warm here, with the sun shining, and the heat from the ground rising too.   

Sadly, it was here, whilst crossing one of the many stiles, that one of the walkers lost her footing, and fell, twisting an ankle, and badly spraining her hand. First aid having been administered, the walk continued towards Greenfield Dock - a one time bustling port, now refurbished and made into a heritage site.

Finally, walkers made their way up to Basingwerk Abbey, to complete the circular walk. 

It had been a great day of walking, lots of talking and sharing, and inspiration for ideas for work with children and young people - a really fitting walk in aid of the RE Council of England and Wales, organised by the Ramblers group of the United Church in Rhyl.