Lush hedgerows, thatched roofs, cute cottages, charming old pubs.
Sounds like a set off Midsomer Murders, but we’re talking about some of the idyllic villages in Wrexham County Borough. And – you’ll be relieved to know – the average life expectancy is somewhat better than in the fictional TV detective drama.
One of the great things about Wrexham is that we have the best of both urban and rural life. A bustling, modern town surrounded by lovely countryside and delightful villages. And you can get from one to the other in the blink of an eye.
Here’s a little snapshot of some of our rural towns and villages.
In 15th century All Saints, Gresford has one of the loveliest churches in Wales. Plus a pond so large, it often gets called ‘The Lake’.
Just down the road near Gresford Heath, there’s a memorial to the saddest day in Wrexham’s history. September 22nd 1934, when 266 men lost their lives in a colliery disaster.
Art lovers may recognise Upper Mill on the river Alyn at Rossett. It was sketched by JMW Turner in 1795.
He was a little too early to call in for refreshment at the Victorian half-timbered Cocoa Rooms (now a bank). They were built to tempt young men away from the village pubs. Which, you may be glad to know, are still standing and still doing a roaring trade.
OK. It’s not exactly Checkpoint Charlie. But stroll from Holt across the Old Dee Bridge and you’ll be in another country – England.
Other remarkable ancient structures include the ruins of Holt Castle and St Chad’s Church – one of the few surviving examples of medieval design gone seriously wrong. It still looks lovely though.
Overton is so stuffed with historic buildings that it’s been designated a conservation area.
Look out for Dispensary Row – a set of neo-Gothic terraced cottages with arched doorways and windows. And its extra-wide High Street, redesigned in grand style after Edward I granted the village borough status.
Stunningly set on the River Dee, Bangor is reached by a hump-backed medieval stone bridge. There’s fishing on the river, golf nearby and horse racing just a few hundred yards from the village centre.
Chirk has an embarrassment of riches for a small town. An aqueduct by Thomas Telford. A viaduct by Henry Robertson. A great castle built by Edward I. And a championship golf course.
It’s also a gateway to one of the most beautiful valleys in Wales – the Ceiriog Valley.
This is a village with a long history. There’s evidence of a bronze-age settlement and the Roundhouse or Old Gaol in Bridge Street is one of just three remaining medieval lock-ups in Wales. And if you wonder down High Street, you’ll notice Victorian houses built with the world-famous Ruabon red-brick.
There’s also the impressive Wynnstay Gates in Park Street and we just have to mention The Bridge End – recently named best pub in Britain by those real ale connoisseurs at CAMRA. It also brews award-winning beer.
Owain Glyndwr, perhaps the greatest Welshman of all time, got married in the church at Hanmer in 1383. That one burnt down, but don’t be disappointed. Its replacement is the most strikingly situated in the whole of the county borough.
You approach from a mere, or glacial lake, teeming with crested grebe, swans and Canada geese. You enter a set of ornate iron gates, pass through a large graveyard which sweeps uphill to the church. And you prepare to be amazed.
The narrow, wooded lane that winds from Overton Bridge past the Garden House leads nowhere – except to one of the loveliest villages in Wrexham.
Erbistock’s setting on the banks of the Dee has inspired painters and photographers for centuries. There’s a beautiful pub and restaurant called The Boat, which dates back to the 13th century. And an unexpectedly grand neo-Gothic church.