The most spectacular canal walk in Britain is that along the Llangollen Canal, from either Chirk or Froncysyllte, to the Horseshoe Falls at the
head of the canal. Starting at Monk’s Bridge, adjacent to the B5070 just south of Chirk, the canal first turns north across the Ceiriog valley on a massive aqueduct, and plunges immediately into Chirk Tunnel. There is a
further tunnel at Whitehouses, before the canal turns sharply at Froncysyllte onto the magnificent Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – undoubtedly the first wonder of the British waterways. This gives dramatic views up and
down the Dee valley. From here to the Horseshoe Falls the canal clings to the northern bank of the valley, through Llangollen itself and on to the falls.
This is the highest navigable aqueduct ever built and is recognised as a masterpiece of civil engineering. Built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop between 1795 and 1808, it forms part of an 11-mile canal system that was recently placed on the World Heritage list of sites of Outstanding Universal Value. You can go across by barge or on foot, but be careful - the River Dee below seems an awfully long way down!
Trevor Basin, Llangollen, Denbighshire
Start your canalside walk in Llangollen and your towpath stroll transforms into a white-knuckle walk as the hillside drops away and you find yourslf 126ft up on Thomas Telford's amazing aqueduct, which carries the canal for 1,007 feet straight across the river Dee below. The canal mostly winds lazily following the contours of the hills, the wooded banks giving way now and again to spectacular views of mountain and the beautiful Dee valley.
There's a full spectrum of activities: languid rides on the steam railway or horse-drawn boats, or white-water rafting, kayaking, abseilling, climbing and mountain biking – not forgetting the famous Eisteddfod and the museum for culture vultures. Accommodation ranges from the four-star Llangollen hostel (01978 861773, llangollenhostel.co.uk) to luxury narrowboats from Anglo Welsh (anglowelsh.co.uk, 0117 304 1122). The best B&B is the Bryn Merion (01978 861911).
From Llangollen, Snowdonia, to Nantwich, Cheshire, (canaljunction.com/canal/llangollen.htm
Don leathers and leave behind the elegant, quintessential Englishness of Chester (built to keep the Welsh out), gradually ascend and ride the switchback of the dramatic Horseshoe Pass, an early natural rollercoaster, and glide (pausing awhile at the Ponderosa for refreshments) under the clouds into One Hundred Years of Solitude, or the Welsh Dee Valley, at Llangollen overlooked by the brooding magnificence of Castell Dinas Bran
Go in July and catch the International Eisteddfod, the epicentre of grass roots world music for a week. This year, acts range from Joan Baez to Jose Carreras but the true stars are from Iraq, China and the west coast of Africa!
The best Welsh brewed real ales are at Gales in the high street and for Welsh contemporary "tapas", try the stunningly located Cornmill on the banks of the swirling Dee.
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