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PLAP Route 18 - Alwen Forest

Distance: approximately 12 miles.
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map Number 18 (Map 1:25000)


The Alwen Plantation Forest lies south of Alwen Forest. It's part of the Hiraethog Forest and consists of upland coniferous woodland, most of which surrounds the reservoir and dam that was constructed between 1909 and 1921 to provide piped water to Birkenhead. Today the reservoir supplies water to homes across north east Wales, producing about five million gallons of water a day.  

This carriage driving route is special because it not only offers an opportunity for everyone to carriage drive safely away from roads, in a peaceful woodland setting, but it also gives those new to carriage driving or who are in some way physically restricted a chance to gain experience in the open countryside in an ideal, safe and quiet environment with enough space for assistance or supervision to be given.  Horse riders are allowed open access to the Alwen Forest north of this route.

Alwen viewThe scheme also requires carriage drivers to wear a hard hat or helmet and hi-viz clothing and to have valid insurance through either being a BHS Gold member or a member of the British Driving Society. Membership cards will need to be carried and shown if requested. No horse and carriage is to be driven without a passenger, groom or backstepper.

Route Description

Alwen ForestFrom Denbigh:  From the A544 turn left onto the A543.  After 2.8 miles turn left onto the B4501 and after 4.75 miles turn right to South Alwen.

From the A5:  Turn off for Cerrigydrudion and follow the B4501 signed to Llyn Brenig for approximately 2.6 miles.  Turn left into South Alwen.

The entry gate is not obvious but if approached from the south the signs shown above are visible. Once through the gate (please remember to lock this gate) take the right fork and continue approximately one mile to the parking area. There is space for four lorries on a hard surface.

1. Once harnessed, drive back down the track and then take track on the left. Follow this track, for approximately one mile. 
2. Continue straight over at the next crossroads  
3. Bear left at the next fork and continue along the track for approximately 1.3 miles past the stone quarry on the right, over the crest of the hill and down.
4. Shortly after this a crossroads is reached and it is here that a choice can be made to remain in the forest (Option A) or to turn right (Option B) to investigate some of the quiet and very narrow lanes around the small hamlet of Cefn Brith.

Option A 
5. At the crossroads continue along this track for 0.75 miles and turn right. After one mile turn left (before  the gate on the road) and follow the track  to the parking area overlooking Alwen Reservoir.

Option B 
6. Turn right and keep following the track for 0.4 miles before reaching a gate (marked ‘1’ on the map, and needs to be kept closed at all times).  Views across open moorland can be seen. Follow this green lane down a relatively winding steep hill for approximately one mile through another gate (marked ‘2’ on the map, and needs to be kept closed at all times).
7. At small crossroads turn left and follow this lane to the next junction, turn left and then turn  left again (opposite a footpath sign). Stay on this lane for approximately 0.75 miles.
8. At the next T-junction (you will see a windmill immediately in front of you) turn right and after approximately half a mile turn right at the junction (you will see a sign in a hedge for Cefn Brith).
9. Drive along this road past a red telephone box and Cefn Brith Chapel, and after approximately 1.2 miles turn right (opposite a farm entrance signed Tyddyn Bychan).  Follow this lane over the small crossroads and back onto the steep uphill road leading once again to gate 2.  Remain on this track until reaching gate 1 (please remember to close the gate) then down to the crossroads in the forest and then turn right.  
10. Continue along this track for 0.75 miles and then turn right and after one mile turn left. Follow the track to the parking area overlooking Alwen Reservoir.

General Information

Alwen Forest routeParking: Please see marked areas on the map.

Insurance: The BHS recommends that before undertaking any part of this route, both horse and rider should be adequately insured against public liability. The British Horse Society can provide public liability and personal accident insurance cover as well as many benefits if you join as a member (terms and conditions and territorial limits apply). For more information or to join, visit our Membership section

Feedback: These routes are kept to the standard that the local authority can afford. They were all accessible at the lime of launch and are on definitive public rights of way. If you experience any problems with the routes or wish to raise any concerns, please contact the local authority, your local BHS Access Officer or the Access Team at BHS HQ via

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