Places and photographs

Gwylfa Hiraethog

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The ruins of Gwylfa Hiraethog (‘Watch Tower of Hiraethog’)


28 July 2012

Bryn Trillyn, Mynydd Hiraethog (Denbigh Moors)

SH 94727 59094; 53.11858°N, 3.57444°W


Hudson Ewbanke Kearley, grocer, Liberal MP, millionaire and later to become first Viscount Devonport, purchased 322 acres of grouse moor, and leased a further 7000, to create a hunting estate in Mynydd Hiraethog (the Denbigh Moors). Kearley built the Gwylfa Hiraethog shooting lodge as a country retreat, and it was said to be the highest inhabited house in Wales. The first structure, in the form of a prefabricated wooden chalet from Norway, was erected in the 1890s. A stone-built lodge was constructed in 1908 and was extended in 1913. The house comprised 11 main bedrooms together with two secondary bedrooms and servants’ quarters (RCAHMW photographs of the mansion circa 1954: showing the triple-gabled front façade; and the arched entrance doorway). The estate was sold in 1925 and the lodge was abandoned in the 1960s.

Gwylfa Hiraethog Shooting Lodge (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Gwylfa Hiraethog Estate and Grouse Moor; Bryn Trillyn (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
The House on the Moor, Gwylfa Hiraethog (Treasure Maps)

Situated at an altitude of 496m on the summit of Bryn Trillyn, the lodge had panoramic views of the surrounding countryside

Picture window (once actually four narrow panes)

Arched doorway

Top of fireplace? now submerged in rubble

Gwylfa Hiraethog


Gwylfa Hiraethog


Archway detail

Arched portal



Sportsmans Arms, once part of the estate

Sportsmans Arms, ‘The Highest Inn In Wales’

Silhouette of Gwylfa Hiraethog on the brow of the hill (top right), as seen from the A543 Pentrefoelas to Denbigh road

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Written by Graham Stephen

July 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

9 Responses

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  1. A really great set of photos, Graham. You have done the place justice. I found it very difficult to photograph, and was impressed that you conscripted a thistle to act as foreground! Super set, and I like the photo of the “inn” as well. Apparently (so I am told) the ruins appeared in an episode of BBC ’80′s cult TV series “The Tripods”…


    July 30, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    • I’m glad you liked them Iain, and thanks for alerting me to the existence of this place

      Graham Stephen

      August 1, 2012 at 10:55 pm

  2. Wow, that place looks like it’s taken a direct hit. Amazing how some places decay into virtually nothing when left to nature.


    July 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    • Yes, it does look like a bombsite, doesn’t it? I thought it was quite interesting comparing the site now with the 50s photographs of the house.

      Graham Stephen

      August 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm

  3. Pues se ve que tuvo que ser un sitio muy bonito, que pena que lo dejaran deteriorarse así, aunque por lo que veo, si que todavía tienen el mesón que funciona, ¡precioso reportaje! besos Grahan


    July 30, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    • Muchas gracias Manoli. Si aun funciona el meson, realmente no se… Segun el poste se vende. Abrazos.

      Graham Stephen

      August 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm

  4. From my Midwest perspective across the ocean, your photos add another layer of mystery and intrigue to what is already mysterious to me, the UK and its deep reach back into a mythical history. I appreciate your perspective. I especially love the photos where you focused on something mundane (the thistle, a brick column, a cement support) and allowed the more interesting background to blur.

    Dezra Despain

    July 31, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • Thanks Dezra. I hope I don’t overuse it, but I have to say that I do like the technique of adding a little air of mystery sometimes by throwing the main subject out of focus.

      Graham Stephen

      August 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm

  5. Beautiful treatment to B&W, but I’m curious how the colors looks like


    August 7, 2012 at 10:33 am

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