Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal - Experience it
"Look, don't touch." Some heritage sites are just too fragile to handle. That's not the case here. Telford's structures – like the man himself – were made from tough stuff.
So you don’t have to just stand back and admire our World Heritage Site from a distance (inspiring though that is). You can experience it. In lots of different ways.
Try our top five for starters.
1. Cross the aqueducts
Dare you cross the stream in the sky? And can you do it without looking down? You can walk across Pontcysyllte, or save your legs and take a leisurely boat ride.
But there’s one thing you have to take with you. A camera. The views are something else. Chirk Aqueduct is just a few miles downstream. And you could argue the views are even lovelier.
A canter across will take you over the Welsh border and into England.
And if you work up an appetite, just keep walking past the pretty canal-bank cottages to the Poachers Pocket pub. Or The Bridge Inn. Good food and real ale are waiting.
2. Explore the tunnels
If walking across the aqueducts gets your pulse racing, wait until you tackle ‘the Darkie’.
A few yards into the tunnel and you realise where it gets its name from. It’s seriously dark, seriously long and once you’re halfway, there’s no going back.
You can walk through it without a torch. It’s quite an adventure. But maybe a torch is a good idea?
3. Walk the towpaths
It’s not all aqueducts and tunnels along the 11 miles of World Heritage Site. Walking along the rest of the towpaths is a nice way to spend a few hours.
Countryside rich in wildlife, sparse in people. In other words, peace and quiet. Nice thinking time if you’re by yourself. Catching up time if you’re with someone special.
There are places to eat along the way. Like the aptly-named Aqueduct pub at Froncysyllte. The (also aptly named) Thomas Telford pub at Trevor basin. Or the Sun Trevor pub, which offers a welcome pit-stop halfway between Pontcysyllte and Llangollen.
And the best bit? No hills. Not even Telford could make water run upwards, so the canal towpaths are nice and flat.
Although if you’re a serious walker, there are lots of intriguing walks and trails just off the towpaths, including the Ceiriog Valley Walk (which is lovely) and the famous Offa’s Dyke.
4. Float on a boat with Togg
People have been enjoying horse-drawn boat trips from the canal wharf in Llangollen for over 100 years.
In fact Togg, Geordie and the other horses are pretty much celebrities these days. And they appreciate the odd carrot for their efforts.
There are 45-minute trips along the canal, and two-hour trips right up to the Horseshoe Falls on certain days at peak season.
There are lots of relaxing ways to experience the World Heritage Site, but a horse-drawn boat trip takes some beating. Quietly gliding across the water. Ducks and ducklings pottering along the bank. And the madness of the big wide world evaporating into mist.
5. See the horseshoe
The Horseshoe Falls is where it all starts. The place where the canal draws its water from the river.
It’s basically a man-made weir – shaped like a horse-shoe. And like so many of Telford’s creations, it only seems to enhance the beauty of the landscape around it.
An example of man’s designs complementing nature. How often do you see that?