As part of our altered holiday plans I got clicking around Pinterest for things nearby. I found the most stunning canal bridge and then to my surprise, found that it was the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Llangollen. Llangollen is a mere 35 minutes from my parents’ house so a perfect place to visit on a mini road trip one day holiday. Plus, nether of us have ever seen a canal on a high bridge before.
We didn’t really have any plans when we set out to Llangollen other than checking out the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and having a jolly good walk and exploration of the area. It’s pretty exciting when you set out without a plan as you can just see where it takes you.
Arriving in Llangollen, we realised that we had absolutely no idea where we were going. Or how to get to see the heritage horse-drawn narrow boats or the aqueduct. After wandering the streets aimlessly for a while we discover and nipped into the Visitor Centre. It was lucky we did as the Welsh Tourist Board have done an amazing job. We found maps and information for pretty much very area around us. Perfect for our evening planning.
We headed for the canal and spotted the horse-drawn one. Seeing the speed, we decided against taking a trip and overtook the one already on the go, leaving it way behind. It was nice to see, but a much too slow pace for us!
After a quick tea, browse through the map and having written our postcards (to my parents!) we carried in the direction we though we should be going in. The maps are a little bit misleading!
Towards the bend of the canal after the Chainbridge Hotel, we discovered the Chainbridge and its crazy history! It was originally built-in 1817 by a coal merchant so that he could easily transport coal. It was rebuilt twice and the final time (this one) using original materials. Now that is good recycling!
I have to say that it is a very fin bridge (so long as you’re not scared of them) as you can get a good bounce on it while walking across! I am amazed about how much of the original materials they were able to use and the craftsmanship that went into it in the first place.
To the other side of the Dee
Following the bridge to the other side brought us to a quiet part of the walk, just before the Horseshoe Falls. It was surprisingly quiet considering it was a lovely warm day – although that could have been because the kids were back in school.
A short walk from here and we arrived at Horseshoe Falls where there was a brave family taking a dip in the cool running water. When I said it was warm, it wasn’t that warm! Although, it did become a tempting though once we had scaled the hill a few times trying to catch our bearings!
Finding our way
As with not having a proper map, knowing where you are can be a little bit on the tricky side. While we picnicked at the top of the hill, we discovered a way marked map. The map that would tell us that we were on the totally opposite side of Llangollen than we thought. In fact over 4.5 miles away from the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct! Good thing we were up for the walk!
In true urban wanderer spirit we packed up our flask and started to head back to the narrow boat station ready to start our walk to the aqueduct. Luckily the route was both, flat, pretty and refreshing when the rain finally came. Although, for once in our lives we actually came out without coats, so it was lucky we had trees for shelter and that the heart was still up.
It was pretty busy on the canals while we were walking back on ourselves. It seemed like everyone with a narrow boat was on the move – which amused us greatly (small things!) On the walk, I remembered that I had downloaded a free Sustrans app Celtic Tales which had Celtic tours on it, so we got it going to help us to get the right direction this time! I know it is really aimed at children, but we found it fun and interesting anyway. We are big kids after all!
The rain made the walk a lot easier than we thought as it kept the temperature down a little, making it more comfortable. It wasn’t long until we caught a small glimpse of a boat on the bridge. Just through the trees we could see a boat passing by. Little did we realise how impressive it actually was.
Initially around as you approach the Aquaduct, you are met by a large turning lake. The visitor centre to one side and two little shops selling ice cream and souvenirs. We followed the path around and over the bridge to see the absolute enormity of the bridge (19 arches, spanning 307 metres and a towering 38 metres above the river) Oh and did I mention, it was built in 1805 and only took 10 years to design and build?
With our minds blown by the incredible feat of engineering, we decided to wander over the bridge accompanying the narrow boats crossing. As you can imagine, everyone crossing in a boat was about as excited as we were!
On the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
From the top, it is difficult to show the scale of the bride and the height that it stands over the ground. Which, I might add means that we will definitely be taking another trip to see it from ground level and perhaps hire a boat to travel across ourselves! (so excited at the prospect!)
With time running away with us and another 4.5 miles to walk, we decided that we had to call it a day. We quickly ate an ice lolly to cool us down and headed back towards the canal to take us back into Llangollen.
Back to Llangollen
Of course, we still spotted loads of stuff to photograph and enjoy on our walk back to Llangollen. I think I have a bit of a thing for canals too – with the amount I explore the Rochdale, Ashton and Bridgewater in Manchester. I was even able to recognise some of the boats that we see in Islington Marina on our morning walks. Lancashire Lass, we’re looking at you here!
I’m not ashamed either, I love the canals! (and the recent programme that was on TV about them too!)
And of course I had to photograph at least one animal!!
Tired but happy
Tired but happy, we came back into Llangollen town. Feet warm. Ready to take the weight off, we had time for a few last photos, head to the souvenir shop (for a daft tea towel for my Mum) and over to the car.
All that was left was to drive back to the Wirral and to plan our next day’s adventures around Denbeighshire. The leaflets that we collected would prove very useful and we were certainly going to make the most of out time off.
The end of our one day holiday to Llangollen and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was over for now. But it meant that we have another reason to head to Wales (only 1.5 hours from home) for more exploring and discovery!)
Here’s to more time on canals!
Would you like to travel across the Aqueduct? Have you ever been on a narrow boat?
let me know in the comments! 🙂