Castell Dinas Bran - The Path to Valhalla

Geoff Moore on Sat 18 November 2017

  • Image Title: The Path to Valhalla - Castell Dinas Bran
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Pentax DFA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens used:
  • mm Focal length:
  • f/ Aperture:
  • Exposure time:
  • ISO:

High above the Dee Valley and the town of Llangollen, Castell Dinas Bran occupies one of Britain's most spectacular ancient castle sites.

This was one tough adventure, and one I have been feeling this week. Having felt like I have played the part of a soldier in the nursery rhythm 'The grand old Duke of York' my legs are shot! Despite all my walking up and down the hill, the weather on this occasion just didn't match the forecasts. I was hoping for clear skies from 11:00 am til 03:00 am with patch cloud from 4-5am and then back to clear skies for dawn, whihc would have given us the best of a night of astrophotography  and a chance of a decent sunrise however what was delivered was wall to wall clag from the moment we parked up the car.

Having no success during the hours of darkness we relocated to the Panorama Road and made our way on to the ridge line of Egwlyseg Rocks. It was hoped the weather would improve for the dawn, unfortunately, this wasn't the case and yet more heavy rain-laden cloud rolled in down the Dee Valley.

The following is an extract from the very informative Castle Wales website, which sums up this spectacular location far better than I can.

Castell Dinas Bran

 A rugged, foreboding pinnacle, the hillock was the ideal spot to erect a castle. It seemed completely impenetrable, commanded views for miles around, and offered quick recognition of an approaching visitor, whether friend or foe. Yet, the native Welsh princes of Powys occupied the hilltop for only a few decades.

Today, that same site is open to exploration by the public. Forced to climb to the summit, modern visitors experience the struggle and the exhilaration that the castle's medieval inhabitants - and their Edwardian attackers - must have felt. Without a doubt, the walk is a breathtaking challenge. However, that climb heightens the allure of Dinas Bran. And, it demonstrates the stark reality of medieval castle life.

"Dinas Bran" is variously translated as "Crow Castle," "Crow City," "Hill of the Crow," or "Bran's Stronghold." The castle first appears in 12th century historical documents as part of a medieval piece entitled "Fouke le Fitz Waryn,"or "The Romance of Fulk Fitzwarine." While this work claimed that the castle, known as "Chastiel Bran," was in ruin as early as 1073, the remains we see today date to the occupation of the princes of Powys Fadog in the mid 13th century. Possibly, the Chastiel Bran mentioned in the romance was a Norman timber castle, but nothing of substance supports this conjecture. However, the encompassing ditch and earthen embankments, which enclose the southern and eastern portions of the stone fortress, do date to the Iron Age. They remind us that this hilltop had strategic value long before the princes of Powys, or the Normans, ventured into the region. Interestingly, the word, "Dinas," has its origins in the Iron Age as well, and is found in the names of Iron Age hillforts throughout Wales.

- source :

Driving Details

The A5 road passes through Llangollen en-route from Shrewsbury to Holyhead; the A483 from Chester is close by. Car parking is well signed, but limited. Bus route 5/5A links Llangollen to Wrexham every day; the X94 service runs (M-F) from Chester and Barmouth.

The Path to Valhalla
  • Image Title: The Path to Valhalla
  • Pentax K-1 Camera used:
  • Pentax DFA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens used:
  • 105mm Focal length:
  • f/F11 Aperture:
  • 1/160 Exposure time:
  • 100 ISO:

Looking down from the Egwlyseg Rocks the path leading back to the Castell Dinas Bran where I spent the evening.

* Plus Special Guest Prop :)

For more information I would recommend

How to get here

Enter your starting location on the box provided under the map to see the route from your starting location to Castell Dinas Bran, Llangollen

Order a Print from this page?

If you would like to order a print or want more information on purchasing an image above on this page you can do so by dropping me an email below.

Leave a comment

Recent Photography Adventures

Why not read about some of my other photography adventures around the UK