Place to Visit In and Around Holywell
Halkyn Mountain Common
Halkyn Mountain Common is a remarkable upland limestone plateau of around 1,800 acres on the outskirts of Holywell and stretching between the villages of Brynford and Rhosesmor with a history of mining, quarrying and grazing since Roman times.
Its landscape today is a reflection of this industrial exploitation but, as nature reclaimed much of the land, Halkyn Mountain Common has become a popular place for walking, horse riding and bird watching.
Halkyn Mountain Common is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.
For more information about Halkyn Mountain Common, visit: http://www.halkyn.org
Fron Park, just a stone’s throw from Holywell’s picturesque town centre and approached via ornate wrought iron gates erected to commemorate the men of Holywell who fell in two world wars, is an oasis of tranquillity.
Here, visitors can roam along paths which wend their way past flower beds and through shrubbery, rest awhile in the flower bedecked memorial gardens or relax while they watch or even take part in the sedate game of bowls or fast moving tennis in one of the park’s tennis courts.
Pantasaph and its Franciscan community
In the village of Pantasaph, just a few miles south of Holywell, is a Roman Catholic complex of buildings. These include St David’s Church, built in 1846 by Viscount Fielding, later becoming the Earl of Denbigh, to commemorate his marriage, a Franciscan friary and a retreat centre.
The Franciscan Friary and associated buildings were built by Viscount Fielding between 1858 and 1865 following his conversion to Catholicism. The gardens were laid out between 1875 and 1879.
On the wooded hillside behind the friary are the Stations of the Cross, representing Christ’s journey to Calvary which were constructed in the mid to late 19th century. These can be seen by following a well-marked zigzag path through the woods and consist of 14 stations laid out in alcoves.
From the top of the hill there are views over pleasant countryside towards the Irish Sea.
Pantasaph Franciscan Friary is also the National Shrine of St Pio.
The post code for the complex is CH8 8PE
01352 711053Visit Website
The gates, railings and stone piers with memorial tablets set into them located at the Panton Place entrance to Fron Park were erected after WWII in honour of the 110 Holywell men who gave their lives in the two world wars.
Post Code: CH8 7LD
Groes Onnen Windmill.
Groes Onnen Windmill was probably built during the late 18th or early 19th century but ceased operating as a mill in the 1890s. It is located in the Pen y Maes area of the town and is a prominent local landmark, and a rare surviving Welsh example of a full height windmill.
The mill was given Grade II listed status in 1951 and has since been refurbished and converted for residential use.
Post Code: CH8 7BB
Pen y Ball monument
This monument at the top of Pen y Ball Hill, 820ft above sea level and made of Halkyn stone, was erected in 1893 to commemorate the marriage of the Duke of York heir to the English throne. Inscriptions on the stone also commemorate him being proclaimed King George V in 1910 and his silver jubilee in 1935.
From the monument, there are extensive views over Brynford Common and towards the Clwydian hills and Snowdonia.
The Pen y Ball monument can be accessed by car or on foot via a steep hill leading off the A5026, named Fron Park Road, where it passes through Holywell.
The grid reference for the monument is: SJ177755
This 12ft high stone monolith with carvings on its shaft similar to Celtic and Viking styles is one of Flintshire’s most impressive ancient monuments and is believed to be the tallest wheelcross in Britain.
Historians have never been able to determine why or when the stone was erected although it is generally thought to have been erected around 1000 A.D. as a Lamentation Stone
This impressive stone cross is located near the village of Whitford some three miles west of Holywell and stands near a crossroads between that village and the village of Llanasa.
Greenfield Dock is where the Holywell Stream, which rises at St Winefride’s Holy Well, flows into the River Dee estuary and where many years ago, pilgrims from the north of England and possibly Ireland landed before making their way up the valley to visit this holy shrine.
Following many years of neglect and disuse except by a few local fishermen, a few years ago, the dock and surrounding land was leased to the Greenfield Dock Group, made up of local fishermen and residents as well as other people keen to see the dock refurbished.
Since then, extensive renovation work has been carried out and is still ongoing at the dock and by now, with extensive views over the Dee Estuary to Wirral, it is a pleasant place to visit.
The North Wales Coastal Footpath & Cycleway also passes close to the dock
To find Greenfield Dock, when travelling west along the A548 coastal route into Wales, access to the dock follow a byway on the right just a few yards before the traffic lights at the junction of A548 with the B5121 that leads to Holywell.
Panton Place was built in 1816 for Paul Panton junior (1758–1822), who was the Sheriff of Flintshire in 1815. The 16 houses were built to provide living and working accommodation for local professionals and trades people.
Over the years the houses were used for a number of purposes. The Post Office was established in one in 1822 and at least one house was a school. All the properties are listed as important examples of urban housing of this period.
They were given Grade II listed status in 1951 and in 1970, Holywell Urban District Council invested £65,000 to convert them into 28 one-bedroom flats for elderly and disabled people, and a plaque there commemorates the conversion.
The restoration scheme received a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors conservation award in June 1971 which is awarded annually to recognise outstanding achievement in the field of conservation and the enhancement of the built and natural environment.
Post Code: CH8 7LD
Naid y March – the horse’s leap
Naid y March, meaning the horse’s leap is where a legendary leap by a 16th century horseman took place thus creating the name for the surrounding area which still in use today.
The legend is that in the early 1500s Thomas Ap Harri was riding home from a hunting expedition with friends on Halkyn Mountain when they struck a wager that he and his horse couldn’t jump one of the many mineshafts that dotted the area.
The bold Thomas, possibly fortified by drink, was up for the challenge and he and his faithful steed soared clear and the feat was afterwards commemorated by two standing stones erected 25 feet apart marking where he and his horse took off and landed.
Two standing stones were erected where Thomas and his horse jumped over the shaft to mark his achievement and by today the event is part of the region’s history.
The grid reference for Naid y March is: SJ171752.
Greenfield Valley Heritage Park
Greenfield Valley Heritage & Country Park is a 1½ mile-long linear park following the course of the Holywell Stream between the town and the estuary of the River Dee, and through which the most steeply graded conventional standard gauge railway in the UK once ran.
Here, in addition to St Winefride’s Holy Well and 12th century Basingwerk Abbey, lie the remains of a number of historic mill buildings, many of which are by now scheduled ancient monuments.
More recently, cottages, farmhouses and even a Victorian school have been moved here stone by stone from other locations and carefully reconstructed and furnished as they might have been in centuries gone by.
The park also boasts a farm museum complete with machinery, implements and farmyard animals and a museum dedicated to locally born and world famous naturalist and explorer, Thomas Pennant.
Visitors can also enjoy a number of meandering woodland walks leading to and past secluded picnic spots and five small lakes teeming with bird life and enabling the visitor to explorethe silent remains of historic mills in an area which was once the cradle of the industrial revolution in North Wales and from where all manner of goods were exported worldwide.
Administration Centre, Basingwerk House, Greenfield Valley, Greenfield, Holywell, Flintshire. CH8 7GH
01352 714172Visit Website
Pen y Maes Woods
Pen y Maes Woods is 7½ hectare / 18 acre semi-ancient natural woodland stretching between Holywell and Greenfield. It is a pleasant place to visit any time of the year, but especially in the spring when the bluebells are in bloom or in the autumn when it is a blaze of brown and gold.
Access is from Nant y Coed (CH8 7AZ) in the Pen y Maes area of the town and a public footpath meanders through the woods exiting onto the A548 coast road at Greenfield just below Crescent Farm.
Within the wood there is also a regionally important geological site near which a display board provides a brief explanation of its significance and is worth a visit while exploring the woodland.
Pen y Maes Wood is managed by the Friends of Pen y Maes Wood Group established in 2005 whose members carry out work there to help conserve the natural character of the woodland and protect its indigenous plants and wildlife.
The wood has recently been awarded the Green Flag Community Award for 2011/2012 in recognition that the site is a well-managed, is a welcoming place and a high-quality green space in the town and is believed to be the only green space in Flintshire to have received this accolade.
After reaching the A548 at Greenfield, visitors can follow this road to the left for approximately ½ kilometre / ½ mile returning to Holywell through the Greenfield Valley Heritage Park. Alternatively, they can turn right and after a similar distance, turn left at the roundabout crossing the Chester to Holyhead railway to join the North Wales Coastal Footpath & Cycleway.
The imposing ruins of Basingwerk Abbey, founded in 1132, was for 400 years home and workplace to the monks of the Cistercian Order until they were driven out by Henry VIII’s Dissolution Act in 1536.
During the middle ages, a thriving economic and artistic community developed around the abbey and it became the home of many Welsh poets.
The monks were the first to harness the power of the Holywell Stream, using its power to grind corn and treat the wool from their flocks of sheep.
01352 714172Visit Website
Coed y Garreg Watchtower
Coed y Garreg Watchtower is located on the highest point in Coed y Garreg woods near the village of Whitford about three miles west of Holywell.
This round stone structure is thought by some to be a Roman lighthouse built to help ships navigating the River Dee Estuary. Others think it is a 17th century watchtower, built to give warning of pirate raids.
An inscription on a stone set into the tower says: This pharos was restored by Llewelyn Baron Mostyn in commemoration of the 60th year of the glorious reign of Victoria queen and empress June 20th 1897
The watchtower can be reached via a choice of five public footpaths starting at various locations off quiet country lanes close to the village of Whitford, each of which is a pleasant walk over farmland or through woodland. From near the tower, there are excellent views towards the Clwydian hills and Snowdonia in one direction and towards Wirral and the Lancashire and Cumbrian hills in the other direction.
The grid reference for Coed y Garreg Watchtower is: SJ146782.
Holywell Town Centre
In the quaint and peaceful pedestrianised centre of this historic town, visitors can relax and sample life at a pace almost forgotten in today’s fast moving society.
Here, you can stroll or sit in comfort and admire the architecture of more than 60 listed buildings, watch and maybe envy the relaxed pace of life enjoyed by the locals or browse at the wares offered by nearly a hundred small and predominantly family owned shops.
Visit the town on Thursdays and you can also enjoy the spectacle of a colourful open air street market and on many summertime Saturdays you will find some form of entertainment provided by street musicians attracted here because of its friendly small town atmosphere.
For further general information please phone 01352 711757 / 01745 710333
For further information regarding Holywell Market telephone 01352 703114 / 07919 166279
Holywell Leisure Centre
Holywell Leisure Centre boasts one of the finest leisure centres in North Wales with a range of indoor and outdoor facilities
These include junior and full size swimming pools, opportunities to play squash, badminton, racket ball, snooker, table tennis and a host of other sports.
The leisure centre also has a fitness suite, sauna, sunbed centre and jacuzzi as well as a crèche, café and licensed bar.
Fron Park Road, Holywell, Flintshire, CH8 7UZ
0845 603 2121Visit Website
St Winefride’s Holy Well
The legend of St Winefride tells how in 660AD, an enraged local chieftain severed the head of the young Winefride after she spurned his advances, how a spring rose from the ground at the spot where her head fell and how she was later restored to life by her uncle, St Beuno.
The spring became renowned for its healing powers and throughout the centuries and even until today, pilgrims travel here in their thousands from all over the world to bathe in its waters and worship at its shrine that has become known as the Lourdes of Wales.
St Winefride’s Well, Holywell, Flintshire, CH8 7PN
01352 713054Visit Website