Exploring the small town of Ruthin in Dembighshire – the prison, the houses, the castle and the streets.
All filled with history, heritage and stories.
Carrying on from my adventures from last week, we now get to a bit of a short one – Ruthin. It has been a very long time since I was in Ruthin. When we were, it was at night for a Medieval banquet!
Another adventure in North Wales
If you’ve been following my blog this week, you will know that Jit and I were making the most of a change in plans when we cancelled our holiday to St David’s. We stayed to look out for my parents after my Mum had a short stint in the hospital. She’s right as rain now – probably because she had a good break and I fed her up!
Luckily they live on the Wirral so we had easy access to North Wales. An area I know well from growing up on the Wirral and taking many holidays there. My Nana live in Holywell too, so we know it well. Or so I thought!
Always something new to discover
From this past week, I have come to realise that even if you think you know a place like the back of your hand, you don’t! Everything is constantly evolving and there will always be something new to discover. Taking some time to really explore Dembighshire and North Wales has uncovered so many new places to visit. I’m not complaining as I’m always on the lookout for new places to go – especially if they’re under 2 hours from Manchester.
On that note, today is our 15 year Manchesterversary! Yay! 15 years ago today we moved into our Halls of Residence in Hulme. The start of our time becoming honorary Mancunions. To celebrate we had our usual egg on toast with coffee at our favourite cafe, Koffee Pot. Followed by a lovely wander about town. Bliss!
Anyway, back to Ruthin!
Ruthin is a small county town in Denbeighshire, North Wales and is situated near the Clywdd Hills. There is plenty to do in Ruthin itself and even more in the surrounding areas (I’ll share those in my next posts about our break) including Loggerheads.
With our Tourist Board leaflet in hand and a vague idea about where we were going we set out about the walk. This one was easier than some of the others we had tried as it was only a short route and took us straight to the points of interest listed.
Ruthin Craft Centre
Our first stop was Ruthin Craft Centre as we were looking for somewhere to park and every spot on the map was a tiny car ark with no spaces left. Shopping day, we assumed. So heading to the Craft Centre, gave us chance to look through our map, enjoy the exhibition and also have a coffee with some Welsh Cakes. Yum!
We were lucky that there were some spectacular pieces on display for our visit. Thread work was the running theme and seeing the different interpretations of the craft was fantastic. We were treated to some installations, threaded ‘paintings’ and sculptures too.
The first thing that caught my eye was this amazing community piece which was created using thread and panel pins. The detail is amazing and to see the whole piece together really gave you a sense of the space and work that went into creating it.
Because I have so much to say about the craft centre, I think I’ll post a separate post – just so we can get back to exploring Ruthin! (you know me and art!)
Back to exploring Ruthin
If you’re in Manchester, you might have come across or at least heard of Manchester Peeps. A spy hole project in Ancoats that lets you take a peep into the buildings and discover arts of the past. Well, while we were wandering Ruthin, we came across some spy holes there too. Each or them told a little more about the city, its history and the times gone by with a tiny depiction of it within the back.
I have since discovered that they are part of the Ruthin Art Trail and as we didn’t manage to see them all, we’ll be heading back that way to explore a lot more. Always something else to see!
Here is a cheeky peek into one of the holes! (I don’t want to give it away, so you only get one…end it’s not ‘A Hanging’ either!)
The spy holes give you a lovely way to explore the area as they draw you into areas that you might normally have missed or overlooked. We found it fun seeking out the next one and having a peep into the past. I’m really looking forward to going again to do the whole trail.
One thing I absolutely love about Wales is the way you feel like you’re in another world. So many old buildings which are still in use and a kind of laid back friendliness about the place. A far cry from the speed and busyness of Manchester.
The buildings are definitely another reason to visit. Many are still in use so you can see inside – which is a far cry from many old buildings rotting away in Manchester. The Market Hall is still in use and was open of the day of our visit. But wanting to enjoy the sunshine and follow some of the spy holes we decided that buildings would be for another day.
Drawn into the Gaol
Although not planning on doing indoor stuff, we did get drawn into the entrance of Ruthin Gaol. (the Gaol is the prison, by the way) The building stood proud and it sparked our interest so we ventured forward to check the price. At a bargain of just £5 each we decided to give it a go. The man on the desk was fantastic, giving us things to look out for, snippets of information and exciting factoids – we were in our element!
You wouldn’t believe how lifelike the models were – we were so impressed by them.
We also discovered that HM Prisons do their own range of clothes including joggies and denim jackets!
There is a good amount to see and excellent information to help you build a picture of what it was like when it was built, when it was in use and the life of the prisoners and guards. There are cells to explore and you finish in the main prison square which is now shared with the town Archives.
Back to the streets
After discovering more about the prison (who knew that spinning and knitting could be used as a kind of torture!) we headed back onto the streets to finish our mini tour of Ruthin town.
Every corner seemed to have a little gap to nose through, a space to discover and something to learn. There is loads of heritage signs, so you can learn more about each intriguing and incising place that you come across.
I personally always love glimpses through walls, spaces and gaps. Like an insight into another wold beyond the streets. Ruthin has loads, so I was happy wandering and peeping where I found something nice to look at.
Our final stops on the walk were to see the oldest house in Ruthin which is called Nantclwyd y Dre and was started in 1435. It is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday for limited times, and I am certainly planning to return to see inside having visited one of the oldest houses in Glasgow last new year. The wonkiness (obviously a real word!) has me curious to see what it is like inside.
And last, but by no means least, the entrance to Ruthin Castle. My first and possibly only visit to Ruthin in the past was for the Medieval banquet I mentioned earlier. Picture large chunks of meat on the bone and broth in large bowls with no cutlery. That kind of thing. We were invited as part of a ‘do’ my Dad was attending through work. My sister and I dolled up the nines in matching dresses coupled with fishnet tights (it was the 80s!) Then struggling to sleep through fear of the ghost lad climbing the walls and entering our room.
Thank goodness she never bothered us!
…and on our way
Having finished the little walking tour we decided to head back to the car and onward on our explorations. It was almost lunch time so we decided to head to somewhere more green – Loggerheads. Just down the road and a perfect spot for a picnic.
Ruthin is a fantastic little town to visit. As you can see, we covered a lot in just a morning there and know that we will return to see Nantclwyd y Dre and to explore the castle and the spy holes. What you see here is just a small snippet of the things that you can see and do in Ruthin.
With Ruthin firmly placed on our places to return list, we headed down the road to Loggerheads to explore some green space and gorges.
I hope that our explorations have inspired you to get out and about!
Have you ever visited Ruthin? Been inside a prison? What sorts of things do you like to explore?
Share in the comments – I love to hear about your adventures too! 🙂