Walks Along the Llangollen Canal
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38 walks/44 pages
The beautiful Llangollen Canal runs for 46 miles from its source at Horseshoe Falls across the border between Wales and England, visiting the historic towns of Llangollen, Chirk, Ellesmere, and Whitchurch, as well as ancient villages. It passes through the stunning Vale of Llangollen, enclosed by hills and now part of a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, then crosses north Shropshire, with its glacial meres and rare raised mosses, to the junction with the main Shropshire Union Canal in south Cheshire. The narrow canal was designed by William Jessop and Thomas Telford, the greatest civil engineers of that era. Its most spectacular 11 mile section from Horseshoe Falls to bridge 19 at Chirk Bank, featuring two stunning aqueducts and tunnels, was awarded World Heritage Site status in 2009. Its centerpiece is Telford’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, described as a ‘masterpiece of creative genius’.
The canal was originally part of the Ellesmere Canal, an ambitious scheme launched in 1793, to create a commercial waterway linking the river Mersey, from what became Ellesmere Port, to the river Dee at Chester and the river Severn at Shrewsbury. Its aim was to serve the mineral industries of north east Wales, West Midlands manufacturing centres, and distribute lime as a fertiliser to enrich farmland in Shropshire. By 1805 only part of the canal system had been completed and the plan to extend south from Chester to Trevor was abandoned, as was the final nine miles into Shrewsbury.
A new feeder source was needed so the canal was extended to the Dee near Llangollen in 1808. It was also decided to join the canal with the Chester Canal at Hurleston. In 1845 it became part of the wider Shropshire Union Canal system.
Goods carried included coal, iron, limestone, lime, timber, grain, and cheese. Traffic peaked in the mid-19thC, but had ceased by the late 1930s. The canal survived formal closure in 1944 mainly because it fed water to Hurleston reservoir. It was later renamed the Llangollen Canal and is now one of the most popular canals in Britain, with an estimated 15,000 boat trips along it each year. Ironic really, since Llangollen was not included in the original plans!
This book comprehensively explores the canal, its history and the adjoining countryside, visiting places of interest. It contains 29 circular walks plus 9 linear walks linked to local buses and a heritage railway. Three walks feature the connecting restored section of the scenic Montgomery Canal. Many feature canalside or country pubs, and tea-rooms. The routes range from a 1¾ mile stroll around Cole Mere in Shropshire to a 11 mile linear World Heritage Site walk. A key feature is that routes can easily be linked with others to provide longer day walks, if required. A rich and varied area for walking.