Two-mile canal walk to Sun Trevor Bridge
Take a scenic stroll along the Llangollen Canal to Sun Trevor Bridge.
The historic town of Llangollen tells stories of Cistercian monks, waterways and special relationships. It is perhaps most famous for being festival capital of Wales as the world arrives every year for its International Musical Eisteddfod. The Llangollen Canal ambles 46 miles across this scenic corner of Wales, yet once carried industrial cargoes of coal, limestone, clay and ironstone. 11 miles of the canal including Llangollen Wharf are now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and this leafy canal walk gives you a relaxing insight into its glamorous waterways heritage.
Canal: Llangollen Canal
Start: Llangollen Bridge OS Grid ref: SJ215421 Postcode: LL20 8PG
Finish: Sun Trevor Bridge OS Grid ref: SJ240423 Postcode: LL20 8EG
Distance: 3.2km / 2 miles
Start: The Grade I-listed Llangollen Bridge straddles the River Dee in the valley below the canal. Llangollen is well-known for water sports so you may see kayaks on the rocky swirling river. Llangollen Railway station on the riverbank is the only standard-gauge heritage railway in North Wales. It runs for nearly 10 miles through the Dee Valley, using diesel and steam trains.
1. Turn right into narrow Dee Lane, being careful of traffic here. The Corn Mill was founded in the 13th century by Cistercian monks from Valle Crucis Abbey, and mostly rebuilt in 1786. A working mill until 1974, it has been converted into a stunning riverside pub with a turning water wheel in the bar.
2. Victoria Promenade follows the river’s edge. Opened in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, it leads to Riverside Park, an opportunity for a coffee or ice cream before retracing your steps back along the river.
3. Follow the path into Parade Street. Llangollen Museum, housed in an unusual building with a circular gallery inside, has a large collection of artefacts, photos and documents telling the story of this area.
4. Explore the town by heading up Castle Street, passing the Grade II-listed Victorian Town Hall and the restored Y Capel now housing the library, art gallery and tourist information centre. You could detour up the hill to Plas Newydd, world-famous home of the ‘Ladies of Llangollen’. Irish aristocrats, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby, ran away to set up home together here and gradually transformed their simple home into a striking Gothic retreat of carved oak and stained glass. Although scandalising at the time, many in Regency society visited them, including William Wordsworth, the Duke of Wellington and Josiah Wedgwood.
5. St Collen’s Church, originally founded in the 6th century, has a striking 15th-century carved oak hammer-beam roof. The Ladies of Llangollen are buried in the churchyard. Follow Church Street back to Llangollen Bridge.
6. Cross the road, turn left and head up the signed footpath to Llangollen Wharf. High above the town, the wharf is busy with boats, people and horses. Canal boats were traditionally pulled along by horses. Horse-drawn boats have become a rare sight on today’s waterways, but the Wharf runs horse-drawn boat trips along the canal and motorised boat trips to Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
7. Turn right under the bridge to follow the towpath away from the wharf. The canal is very narrow here, often only wide enough for one boat. Once you’ve passed the visitors’ moorings, both canal and towpath widen as glorious views spread out in front of you. Unusually, this canal has a flow of 2mph as it feeds water to other canals so you may notice a slight current in the water.
8. One of the canal’s many lift bridges is left open to allow for passing boats. Out of town it's blissfully solitary and the locals are sheep, herons and soaring buzzards. The towpath’s lush hedgerows are teeming with life and birdsong.
9. The canal curves under bridge 42, then the trees clear and the view of the Dee valley below is breath-taking. This is a great spot to linger as not only do you have a bird’s-eye-view of boats slowly wending their way through this narrow passage but also views of the valley and atmospheric ruins of 13th-century Castell Dinas Bran on the hill behind you.
End: The Sun Trevor pub is perched just across the road from bridge 41, with views over the canal and valley below. When you are ready, you could hop on a bus back to Llangollen or retrace your steps along the towpath from a different viewpoint.