Offa’s Dyke Path – Day 10 – Trefenon to Llangollen
Before heading out on this long distance walk, weather was almost always in the conversation. “What will the weather be like? What is the weather normally like? And then when we would talk to friends and family during the walk, the weather questions were there again. “Have you had much rain” “Is is hot” “Is it cold”. Through the first days of this walk we had been fortunate. Th first night in Chepstow we encountered some sprinkles and then from Knighton to Cwm we endured windy conditions and an on-again, off-again misty/rainy day. This day our tenth, would turn out to be just fine but heavy overcast in the morning was rather foreboding. Of course, the photographer in me preferred a bit brighter light especially on those overcast days.
My hiking partner and I were the two Canadians. Three other groups of two were hiking along at about the same pace and we would see them from time to time. Two were from New Zealand (the kiwis), two were from Australia and these two were the Brits (the brothers-in-laws, John and Dave).
From the National Trust website comes this info about Chirk Castle: Completed in 1310, Chirk is the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I still lived in today. Features from its 700 years include the medieval tower and dungeon, 18th-century servants’ hall and 20th-century laundry. There is also a 17th-century Long Gallery and grand 18th-century state apartments, with elaborate plasterwork, Adam-style furniture, tapestries and portraits. In the award-winning gardens are clipped yews, herbaceous borders and a stunning shrub garden, with many rare varieties. Other areas are more informal, with a thatched ‘Hawk House’ and rock garden. A terrace with stunning views looks out over the Cheshire and Salop plains and leads to a classical pavilion and 17th-century lime tree avenue. The 18th-century parkland provides a habitat for rare invertebrates and contains many mature trees and also some splendid wrought-iron gates, made in 1719 by the Davies brothers. Chirck Castle website
Under the man at the centre top are the words “Canada Bill”. Not sure who he might be or was but apparently he might have been a Welshman who married a Canadian Girl. Any other thought most welcome since I haven’t found much info. Located beside the Llangollen Canal near Froncysyllte.
Pondering the Crossing – Llangollen Canal across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
From the Guidebook comes these encouraging words:
“Those without a good head for heights should use the other route and children should be closely controlled here: there is no barrier on the canal side”
It was then that I learned that my hiking partner was not fond of heights but he forged ahead. Half way across he met a group of people coming the opposite direction including a farther on a bike with a son on a two behind bike, etc.etc. A scene worth remembering.
The aqueduct, built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, is 1,007 ft (307 m) long, 11 ft (3.4 m) wide and 5.25 ft (1.60 m) deep. It consists of a cast iron trough supported on iron arched ribs carried 126 ft (38 m) above the river by nineteen hollow masonry piers (pillars). Each span is 53 ft (16 m) wide.
Nice to see that when you reach the mid-point you are only 126 feet above the River Dee. How reassuring :-).
River Dee from Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (approx. 126 feet up)
Standing in the Information centre at the Aqueduct, we were told that to get to Llangollen one need only cross over to the other side of the near canal and follow the tow path alongside the Llangollen Canal for about 4 miles or so. Sounded easy. We should have known better. Enjoyed the walk for the first four miles and then began asking “How much farther”. The typical response “Not much farther. Maybe another mile or so.” Ended up being closer to six than four by our calculations and would probably have been shorter and faster to follow the official ‘over the hill panoramic route’ ! Glad I enjoyed seeing all of the canal traffic.
Following the canal was a long way to go but an interesting one. The official Offa’s Dyke Path left the canal and hiked up and over the hills this being shorter in distance than the canal which by its nature had to follow the valley contours more closely.
For this section of the canal it is not wide enough for two boats to pass so a passenger is sent along ahead to play traffic cop. Distance is about 800 feet around the bend so quite the hike for the passenger to get to the other end , stop any on coming traffic and then get back to signal first boat through. Mobile phones and other such devices help nowadays.
This is the Dee River as it passes through the tourist town of Llangollen. The canal passes by up above the red brick buildings to the extreme right of the photo. The canal level at this point along its route is higher than the roofs of those buildings. The water going into the canal comes from above a falls further up on the river. That was one engineering aspect of the canal system that I found intriguing. Miles and miles and miles of canal meandering along the valley walls high up above the river. As noted on the aqueduct photo the canal crossing the aqueduct is fed by the same river which, at that point, is passing by 126 feet below it.