Crumpled Crown of the Clwydian Range.- Jubilee Tower
Whenever one looks eastwards from the summit of any of the major peaks of Snowdonia
the eye inevitably rests on the Clwydian Range which bounds the view. Beyond, lies
the land of the Saxon.
Conversely from the Cheshire side no trace of the giants of Snowdonia is seen for
yet again the Clwydians block the view. They form - the undulating skyline which
alerts the traveller that he is approaching Wales.
This lengthy chain which stretches from Prestatyn to Llandegla has several fine tops.
The perky Moel Arthur, and the prominent Foel Fenlli, each with its circlet of earthworks,
(for the ancients were busy around here), are noble peaks, but it is to Moel Fammau
(Mothers' Mountain) lying between them that the eye is first drawn.
W. H. Auden was aware of this when he wrote :
"As children in Chester look to Moel Fammau to decide
On picnics, by the clearness or withdrawal of her treeless crown".
She is, (beyond all question, the Queen, and queen like she wears her crown — the
most massive manmade cairn on any British peak, unchallenged for over 150 years.
David Snowdon-Jones M.B.E.
Few of the many who daily see it as they motor down the Vale of Clwyd, or along the
A483 which links Chester with Swansea, realise that they are viewing the crumbling
ruins of a once fantastic structure, roughly pyramidal in shape, some 115 feet high,
erected to commemorate the Jubilee of George III.
The story of its erection and subsequent collapse is an entertaining one. On October
25th, 1810 before an assemblage of from 3,000 to 5,000 people, Lord Kenyon laid the
foundation stone of the edifice, subscribed for by the inhabitants of Denbighshire
and Flintshire, which was to take several years in the building.
A contemporary account has it that "the committees and gentlemen of the two counties
met about noon at the Bwlch Penbarras, between Ruthin and Mold, where a detachment
of the Flintshire and Denbighshire Loyal Militias, under the respected colonels,
headed a procession of the principal gentlemen of the counties to the tap of the
mountain, a distance of nearly two miles, most of them on horseback."
It must have been an impressive sight, for the well used track from the Bwlch is
plainly visible from the Clwyd Valley for almost its entire lengthy much of which
is on the actual crest of the ridge. That they could be so seen is evident for the
story continues "the sun shone upon the undertaking, and the thousands who attended
seemed all animated with sympathetic joy on the occasion".
Joy was indeed the order of the day.
Speeches and poems abounded: and before the throng descended to their respective
local celebrations with the attendant ox-roasting, the proceedings were concluded
with "God save the King" with which three additional stanzas, composed for the day,
were sung with gusto. The last of these added verses is worth repeating:
"And as this joyous.day
The grateful Pile we lay
To Britain's King;
By love, by freedom led,
Well rear its towering head,
Firm as its rocky bed,
To George our King".
The author's heart was obviously in the right place, - but the monstrosity to which
he refers was, most fortunately, not so firm, as its rocky bed, for in 1862 the tower
collapsed in a, storm:, and we can be grateful indeed that it is but a pile of rubble.
The Carnarvon Herald of November 1st, 1862 records: "On Tuesday last, about half
past one o'clock an the afternoon, about two thirds of the obelisk on Moel Fammau
or 40 yards of the upper Portion, fell to the ground, probably from the effects of
the severe storm of wind and rain which has visited us lately. The Vale of Clwyd
Harriers in full cry, followed by a numerous field had just passed"
It-seems that anything to to .with the Jubilee Tower involved crowds, and even today
the remnants .of the once dominating landmark are visited by thousands, for at 1.800
feet the view from this highest summit of the Clwydians is most extensive. It looks
down on the Dee and Mersey estuaries, across Liverpool land, up the coast of Lancashire
to Blackpool's yet more famous tower. The Vale of Clwyd lies serenely beautiful to
There can be no denying that the view from Moel Fammau is as good as ever whilst,
thank Heaven, the view of this noble mountain is no longer despoiled by man's handiwork,
for the rubble of the collapsed tower has become, through a century of weathering
and the press of countless feet, a solid cairn which distinguishes, but no longer
disfigures the peak.
Many of those who climb this lovely hill enjoy a lofty picnic here, and it is a great
pity that some are careless or wanton, for twice within the last few years I have
been one of a party which has spent half an hour or so collecting and burying the
broken glass littering summit.
The Forestry Commission is active in the area, out access is unaffected and it might
well be argued that woodlands have introduced a little variety to these heather clad
Offa's Way, that challenging distance footpath which follows dyke from Prestatyn
to Chepstow here forsakes the line laid down the Mercian king many centuries ago;
instead it wisely lead's over these fascinating hills a section of the route sufficient
in itself justify the years of work, survey, land, legal, that have gone into creation.