17 April 2019
With the Easter holidays in full swing, we decided to avoid the crowds and explore some lesser trodden paths around the National Trust's largest agricultural estate, Ysbyty Ifan.
We took a recommended National Trust walk, starting at and returning to the historic village, watch the video to see the amazing countryside views and highlights of this beautiful trail.
YSBYTY IFAN HISTORY
The peaceful village of Ysbyty Ifan, where over 79% of the population are able to speak Welsh, is immediately notable for its array of terraced stone alms houses with immaculate gardens featuring traditional flagstone paths leading down to the Avon Conwy.
On the day we visited the sunshine was of the glorious hazy spring variety, making the welsh slate tiles on the roofs glow with a lush deep blue hue.
The village has a rich medieval past, situated on an ancient pilgrimage route where the Knights of St John set up a hospital and hostel for travelling pilgrims. By the 15th century it was known for housing some of Wales' most notorious rebels and outlaws, including the red bandits of Mawddwy.
Today only the church remains, rebuilt in 1860 it houses many memorials from the previous church many of which are from the 14th-16th century.
Spanning over 20,000 acres and housing over 50 farms this huge plot of uplands was transferred to the care of the National Trust in 1951, previously owned by the late Lord Penrhyn, it spans over the Machno, Eidda and the Upper Conwy valleys. The Carneddau and Glyderau estate, boasting the largest continuous stretch of mountainous ground, were transferred to the trust at the same time.
THE TRAIL ROUTE
Starting off in the village car park, the trail wanders through the tiny village and joins an old drovers path leading up into the hills.
Although not overly strenuous, the path becomes rocky and uneven quickly, with glimpses of sheep and lambs peering through the fencing.
Once the ground levels out into a well maintained single track the views expand rapidly, with glorious mountains and hills in every direction.
We made a slight detour to the National Trust route halfway around the trail, to take in the small hill summit of Rhiw Lwyd. Only a few minutes off the trail, we found the best views of the loop were from this trig point.
Descending from here to the next farm was the trickiest section to navigate, with multiple partially worn paths to choose from - we had lots of fun seeing who could spot the next National Trust marker point first!
Wandering past many rural farms, it's heart warming to see traditional practices and a slower pace of life. One farmer we chatted to was enjoying a cup of tea on his patio, telling us it was a rare break in lambing season but the sunshine was too good to resist a breather.
One novelty on the loop is how the footpath goes straight through a barn, try to spot it on our highlights video!
The final mile or so contains some lovely trees and a bluebell forest, before suddenly appearing back at the traditional stone bridge in the centre of the village, where the welsh slate copings are a joy to rest one's hands and take the weight off the feet. For those extra tired legs, there's a couple of well placed garden benches overlooking the river and a terrace of alms houses & gardens.
Click here for the National Trust walk guide we followed.
Click to open this route on Ordnance Survey Maps.
RHIW LWYD SUMMIT (398m)
Our slight detour to the National Trust route, Rhiw Lwyd is a small hill with a stone Trig Point at it's summit. A Trig Point, used for geodetic surveying, is a column structure of stone blocks usually around 4ft high, with a brass marker on the crown.
The 360 degree views from this point were stunning on the day we visited, the spring heather was coming to life in a mix of golden browns and fresh greens.
GET THE YSBYTY IFAN LOOK
The village buildings all make plentiful use of traditional Welsh Slate.
Our hand made Hên Slate Flagstones are the closest match to reclaimed originals.
Lancashire Mill Flagstones have the dark grey worn textures similar to the Alms Houses pathways.
National Trust Hidcote Flagstones are perfect for a lighter colour tone.