CRUISING WEST (See also CRUISING EAST)
Within half a days cruising west from Chirk Marina, destination LLANGOLLEN
This trip, which is a little over 7 miles, will take you a minimum of 3 hours, but at busy times be prepared for this to be longer, if, for example, you have to wait at the aqueduct.
Shortly after leaving Chirk Marina is Whitehouses tunnel (191 yards). This is a single bore tunnel with a towpath and throughout this stretch the canal hugs the hillside with the railway alongside. To the east were two collieries, Maesgwyn and Black Park, the latter, which was sunk by the Myddleton’s of Chirk Castle, was one of the oldest pits in North Wales surviving into public ownership in 1947. These and other enterprises brought their coal and goods to the canal at a number of wharves along this stretch. At Irish Bridge, however, the canal leaves the railway and most of the old industrial sites behind as it takes a sharp turn to the west to head off into wilder country, of the brooding Welsh mountains.
Heading up the valley of the river Dee the scenery becomes truly awesome, with fine views at every turn. The village of Froncysyllte stands on the valley side, so benefits from these views and there are a number of shops here including a post office and several pubs. After this, the canal heads out on a massive embankment before crossing the world famous Poncysyllte Aqueduct. This is an incredible structure which, like that at Chirk, was built by the famous engineer, Thomas Telford. Here is what Attractions North Wales, has to say
At over 1000 feet long, Pontcysyllte is the longest and highest cast-iron aqueduct in the world. Treasured by the Canal & River Trust, it is today a protected Grade I listed building, a Welsh National Monument and is one of the seven wonders of the British Inland Waterways System. It is of course still used for its original purpose, being crossed by more than a thousand canal boats a year.
Navigation Note: This is an experience you will never forget, but treat the passage with respect and once you have determined nothing is already on the aqueduct and coming your way proceed calmly and steadily across taking due care and attention at all times. It’s a drop of 126 feet into the Horseshoe Pass, so whoever is best with heights needs to be on the tiller and children should remain inside for safety. They still get a great view! At the end of the aqueduct, the canal turns sharply to port (left) and you need to approach this steadily and with a warning as there is a bridge on the bend, and so oncoming boats are unsighted. Directly ahead of you is the Trevor Arm, which originally was planned to descend to Chester
The canal follows the pretty Vale of Llangollen towards the town of the same name, some 3 miles distant. There are many places to stop and admire the scenery, or for the more adventurous, explore the various footpaths and bridleways. At Trevor Uchaf is the Sun Trevor, a pub from which some of the most memorable views can be enjoyed.
Navigation Note: the canal is at its shallowest between Trevor and Llangollen, plus the flow is most evident. Stay to the centre of the channel wherever possible, moving over to the left hand side to allow other boats to pass.
Approaching Llangollen itself, the canal perches high above the town. The moorings are on the town-side. The limit of Navigation is a winding hole beyond Siambr Wen Bridge and the Museum. You will need to turn here and find moorings to enable you to explore the town and its surroundings.
This may be as far as your boat can go but it needn’t be the end of the trip. The waterway that feeds the Llangollen canal continues up the valley to the Horseshoe Falls, which Telford built across the River Dee to capture the water and persuade some of it to flow down his new cut. This is what feeds the canal along its length and why there is a constant and steady flow toward Hurleston Junction where 12 million gallons enter the reservoir daily. This narrow channel is navigable by one craft only, a horse-drawn boat in which it is possible to take a leisurely journey to the head water at the falls. More energetic souls may wish to walk this along the towpath, perhaps taking a detour to Vale Crucis Abbey, a former Cistercian Abbey, established in 1201, high above the town.
Alternatively walkers can climb the 1100ft to Castel Dinas Bran, which was the home of Elisig, Prince of Powys. For those who like their history to be more recent than this there is a motor museum and canal exhibition near to Bridge 48
The musical Eisteddfod takes place each July and for lovers of literature Plas Newydd is a memorial to the visits of Browning, Scott Tennyson and
Wordsworth among others.
No visit to Llangollen would however be complete without a journey on the Llangollen Steam Railway. This takes tourists up the Dee Valley from the historic station in the town to Carrog.
This eight mile trip through the picturesque welsh countryside truly takes you back in time. As it follows the river, the line which was reopened in stages from 1975 passes through some memorable scenery stopping at lovingly restored stations from which passengers can explore the surrounding area, There are dining cars, Thomas specials and a vintage bus, so truly something for everyone
End of CRUISING WEST
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(See also CRUISING EAST)
All distances and times are approximate. The timings do not take account of cruising conditions which are variable and be aware delays can and will occur. It is your responsibility to return your holiday narrowboat before or at the time specified in your agreement(s) with the Company.