Ruthin Castle, Denbighshire

Must do in and around Ruthin

With its fine collection of black-and-white medieval buildings and a ghost story for every corner, Ruthin is packed with history and character. Come here for a lively craft scene and fine walking, too.

Ruthin Castle

In Ruthin, you can stay in a castle. In the 1800s, Ruthin Castle, a grand crenellated mansion which is now a romantic hotel, was built within the old walls of the red sandstone fortress which gave the town its name. Founded in the 1200s, the fortress was pulled apart by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in the 1600s, but ghostly fragments survive.

St Peter's Square

Best described as an orderly jumble, the heart of town is stuffed with fine buildings from different eras. The former Myddelton Arms is the star: its steep roof has three rows of dormers, called The Seven Eyes of Ruthin. The tall, Georgian building standing rather grandly next to it is the Castle Hotel, not to be confused with Ruthin Castle.

Maen Huail, Castle Street

Legend has it that glaciers carried this lump of limestone to Ruthin, and King Arthur beheaded a rival called Huail upon it. There’s more evidence for the former than the latter, but both stories live on. You’ll find it outside Barclays Bank, a 1920s, brown-and-white timbered building on the west side of St Peter’s Square.

St Peter's Church, School Road

The Victorian spire of St Peter’s soars over Ruthin’s varied skyline and looks particularly splendid from the west side of town, with the Clwydian Range as a backdrop. Once you’re inside, look up – there’s a magnificent Tudor roof of carved timber panels and painted bosses.

Nantclwyd y Dre, Castle Street

The oldest timber-framed building in Wales, Nantclwyd y Dre townhouse has a black-and-white exterior, a grand porch and a treasure box of an interior. Each of seven rooms has been decorated in the style of a different era in Ruthin’s history, from 1435 to 1942. Fashions have certainly changed over the years!

Ruthin Gaol, Clwyd Street

To delve into the darker side of Ruthin’s past, visit the only Pentonville-style prison to be made into a museum. Ruthin Gaol exhibits include a treadmill, padded cell and a light-deprivation cell. All have been restored to reveal different aspects of prison life in Victorian times. As you look around, you’ll hear some chilling real-life stories.

Ruthin Craft Centre, Park Road

Ruthin Craft Centre is a beautifully designed modern complex and is a working art and crafts hub for the region. Its light-drenched galleries host regular exhibitions and there’s a shop with an ever-changing stock of gorgeous handmade items. Round off your visit with something healthy and reviving at Café R.

Clwydian Range Food Trail

Munch your way around Ruthin along the Clwydian Range Food Trail, picking up local artisan paté from Patchwork on the north side of town and fresh pies from Eagle’s Bakery on Clwyd Street. On Well Street, you’ll find award-winning sausages at WG Jones and tempting treats at Leonardo’s Delicatessen. Rhesgoed Farm Shop, east of town, sells superb Clwydian Range lamb and pork.

Go walking in the Clwydian Range

Ruthin sits right on the doorstep of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that’s well worth exploring on foot. The Offa’s Dyke National Trail takes you over bracken-clad hilltops with gorgeous, panoramic views of fields and Iron Age hillforts. There are several short, local walking routes, too. 

Take a trip to Denbigh Castle

Perched above the historic town of Denbigh, the time-worn ruins of Denbigh Castle are a striking sight. Inside the walls, there’s plenty of grass for kids to tumble around on. You can drive here from Ruthin in under 20 minutes – it’s around eight miles northwest, via the A525.