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Perched on top of a hill, Ruthin was once fortified, and as in Rome, all roads seem to lead towards St Peter’s Square in the centre.
Visitors come here to admire the mix of architectural styles, the excellent specialist shops and good eating places. Look out for the ancient Huail Stone in St Peter’s Square, on which King Arthur is said to have beheaded a rival in love, and the gibbet on the Nat West Bank building across the way, restored from a 15th century Assize Court.
Another old building, Exmewe Hall, opposite the court house, is also a bank nowadays. In the red sandstone mansion, now a luxury hotel that grew from the ruins of 13th century Ruthin Castle medieval banquets are held accompanied by traditional music. Ruthin Craft Centre, in a specially built complex at Lon Parcwr, has independent craft workshops plus a Tourist Information Centre grouped round an attractive courtyard.
The centre is a living theatre of crafts, where visitors can wander through the workshops, talking to the artists. In Mill Street is one of the mills of the castle. The lower part is 14th century. St Peter’s Church was founded in 1310, and is renowned for its early 16th century carved-oak rood of some 408 panels and brass memorials to the Goodman family. Attached to the church is the 14th century Old Cloisters.
Nearby are the 18th century Old Grammar School and headmaster’s houses. Wynnstay Arms in Well Street is a handsome 16th century half-timbered coaching inn which had Jacobite connections. It was formerly the Cross Foxes described by George Borrow in Wild Wales. The 16th century Myddleton Arms, with its unusual Dutch-style roof, and the Georgian Castle Hotel are also worth a visit.
The leisure facilities at Brynhyfryd School are open to visitors for some sessions, and Ruthin and Pwllglas Golf Club has a nine-hole hilltop course. The Clwydian Range, topped by several Iron Age hill forts, provides a backcloth to the town. The highest point is Moel Fammau (Mother Mountain) with the remains of the Jubilee Tower built in 1810 to commemorate George III’s Golden Jubilee. A large area around Moel Fammau is now a country park with spectacular all-round views from the summit and picnic sites, plus walks through the Clwyd Forest.
A section of Offa’s Dyke long distance footpath crosses over the ridge of the Clwydian Range and provides superb walking country East of Ruthin, on the A494, is the attractive Loggerheads Country Park with its interpretation centre, working mill and a range of trails linked to countryside and industrial heritage themes. Turning westwards from Ruthin, near Cerrigydrudion, visitors can enjoy the facilities at Llyn Brenig. This large reservoir provides a water sports centre as well as archaeological trails and an interpretation centre.