The Llangollen Canal crosses the border between England and Wales. Its combination of picturesque countryside and breath-taking engineering draws visitors from far and wide - many of whom probably don't realise how close this beautiful canal once came to closure.
The dizzying Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal over the River Dee, is a must-see. This remarkable feat of canal engineering is 125 feet high, and the canal is unprotected on one side, giving the impression of a sheer drop from a narrowboat. The structure is deservedly a World Heritage Site.
Elsewhere, the rural Llangollen Canal is also popular with walkers, particularly at beauty spots such as Horseshoe Falls and Blake Mere. Following the canal to the Llangollen end will take you into the rolling foothills of Snowdonia.
We've put together a free guide detailing all you need to know to have a grand family day out at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site.
The Llangollen Canal we see today is quite unlike what the original promoters intended. The Ellesmere Canal Act of 1793 was for a canal from the River Severn at Shrewsbury, past Chirk, Ruabon and Wrexham to the Dee at Chester, then continuing to the Mersey at what was to become Ellesmere Port, together with branches to the limestone quarries of Llanymynech and to the town of Whitchurch. Its purposes were to be a trunk route joining the three rivers, to provide an outlet of the coal and iron industries of Denbighshire, and to enable limestone to be distributed to fertilise the farmlands of north Shropshire.
The part north of Chester was built first. Next, some of the intended canals south of where the Dee was to be crossed by Pontcysyllte Aqueduct were constructed, including the branch to Llanymynech and much of the branch towards Whitchurch — and then the canal company ran out of money. The plans had to be altered. The Ruabon to Chester section was abandoned, as was the canal into Shrewsbury; instead, the Whitchurch branch was extended to meet the Chester Canal at Hurleston Junction. A new source of water was needed, so a navigable feeder was built from the north end of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, past Llangollen to the Dee at Horseshoe Falls.
The main traffic was limestone from Llanymynech and Froncysyllte to limekilns along the line of the canal and its Prees branch (which got only as far as Quina Brook) and, after the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal opened, to the ironworks of East Shropshire. Agricultural products grew in importance after the Middlewich branch opened.
This group of canals became part of the Shropshire Union in 1845, and soon afterwards was leased to the London & North Western Railway. Traffic peaked in the 1860s, then slowly declined, ceasing in the 1930s.
A bright future
The Llangollen Canal was closed by Act of Parliament in 1944, but a second act enabled it to stay open for a further ten years to continue to supply water to various industries. An enterprising manager negotiated with the water company serving south Cheshire for them to obtain their water from the Dee, using the canal as an open pipeline. By the time this came into effect in 1959, the canal was becoming popular with holidaymakers, and the future of the canal was assured.
Mae Camlas Llangollen yn croesi’r ffin rhwng Cymru a Lloegr. Mae ei chyfuniad o gefn gwlad ysblennydd a pheirianneg anhygoel yn denu ymwelwyr o bob cwr o’r DU a thu hwnt.
Mae Traphont DdÅµr Pontcysyllte, sy’n cario’r gamlas fry uwchben afon Dyfrdwy, yn olygfa fythgofiadwy. Mae’r campwaith peirianyddol hwn yn 125 troedfedd o uchder ac nid oes gan y gamlas unrhyw fath o ddiogelwch ar un ochr, sy’n rhoi’r argraff o gwymp llwyr o gwch camlas. Mae’r srwythur yn llawn haeddu cael ei gydnabod fel Safle Treftadaeth y Byd.
Mae Camlas wledig Llangollen hefyd yn boblogaidd gyda cherddwyr, yn enwedig mewn mannau eithriadol o hardd fel Rhaeadr y Bedol a Phwll Blake (Blake Mere). Bydd dilyn y gamlas i ben Llangollen yn eich tywys i odre Eryri.