Are these sheep seeing something we can’t? After all, spectral residents are said to wander the Denbigh Moors in North Wales. Perfect, because we ventured high into the Denbigh Moors for a chance to visit its haunted house, a hunting lodge now in ruins, known locally as Gwylfa Hiraethog. Gwylfa Hiraethog, or the Watch Tower of Hiraethog gets its name from the Denbigh Moors (Mynydd Hiraethog in Welsh). I looked for a definition of “Hiraethog” and found that it could be translated as “yearning” or “great longing.” What I don’t know is what came first, the great longing or the ghosts. Either way, the name seems apt.
As beautiful and varied as Mynydd Hiraethog’s landscape is, the rolling moorland felt isolated and lonely. I think this panorama conveys some sense of the area. Click the image for a larger view.
I don’t know if this is the setting of one Denbigh Moors ghost story, but on at least two reported occasions, a Roman Centurion in full dress was seen walking the Moors. It is believed that he may have died in battle on the Moors when the Romans were settling in nearby Chester (or Deva as the Romans knew it). The unfortunate twist is that seeing the long-dead soldier was known to be an omen of death. And, indeed, after two groups of men saw the apparition, one man from each party met an untimely death. I get chills just thinking about it.
This, I think, is Llyn Aled. This body of water situated high on the Denbigh Moors was one of the few identifiable features we passed as we followed the A543 between Pentrefoelas and the town of Denbigh.
Our trip to the Denbigh Moors and Gwylfa Hiraethog had been planned for some time, but what was unexpected was the snow. A snow storm passed through the night before, frosting the landscape while still allowing the rich, moorish colors to show through.
At this point we realized that we had missed the haunted house. We’d gotten a peek at it atop a roadside hill, but didn’t see a turnoff. At the next opportunity, we left the A543 to find a turnaround and, instead, saw this hidden valley. We couldn’t find a logical place to turn around on the one-lane road, so we went off-road, risking getting stuck in the damp soil in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Thankfully, after a tense few moments of wheel-spinning, we turned around and made it to Gwylfa Hiraethog.
Let me relay one last Denbigh Moors ghost story involving the Haunted House of the Moors. Locals tell of a couple who saw a ‘tall luminous skeleton that glowed in the dark’, and as it approached them, the couple, who were scared witless, ran away and never returned.
Did we see any ghosts? Do you see the shadow of someone in the window, but no one’s standing there? What? You think it’s me? Absolutely not. I’m telling you we got out of there just in time and high-tailed it all the way to Denbigh.