Ruthin: 23rd September 2014
In 1972, Denbighshire ‘disappeared’ under the Great Disorganisation, which saw our traditional counties replaced by the somewhat soulless ‘Local Government Areas’, and became part of Clwyd, which I am informed is Welsh for ‘gateway’, which is appropriate, because it’s the first area you come upon as you drive into Wales from northern England.
However, the ‘former counties’ are starting to make a comeback, and, in 1996, Denbighshire … or Sir Ddinbych in Welsh … made its reappearance as a local authority.
I wasn’t familiar with the area, so when I was invited on a Press trip, I really didn’t know what to expect. But, as I drove over the Welsh border, I’d hardly taken on board that the road signs were now bilingual, than I passed a brown sign saying I was entering an Area of Natural Beauty.This is countryside as it used to be … fields, trees and hedgerows, not the prairie-like expanses of elsewhere. We are now in the Vale of Clwyd, flanked by the gentle, flowing Clwydian Hills.
We were headed to Ruthin, where we were staying at the Ruthin Castle Hotel. And, here’s a caution … this is NOT to be confused with the Castle Hotel, Ruthin, where most of us went first; I had my suspicions, because it looked nothing like the place I saw on Google Earth!
But, it did give us a glimpse of the town we were to explore in greater detail later on. We saw quaint half-timbered houses, and shops which, although selling modern goods, have managed to be adapted without altering the character of the building overmuch. Just one example from many; the National Westminster Bank is in the Old Courthouse, dating from 1410. You can still see the stump of timber in the wall that used to form the gallows from which criminals were hanged.
Ruthin Castle Hotel is only a short way up the road, though … and it really is … or rather, was a castle. The present building was actually built in the style of a castle. But, enough of the original castle remains to make a fascinating exploration.
Disclosure: We travelled as the guests of North Wales Tourism (www.nwt.co.uk) but all opinions expressed are my own.