Following on from our walk down the Gloucester/Sharpness Canal a year ago we decided to hike along the Llangollen Canal from Chirk to its origin a couple of miles west of Llangollen. This was inspired by "Canal Walks: Midlands" by Ray Quinlan (from which the notes about the canal below are taken), and Jeff's previous family holidays in Llangollen.
We arrived on Friday afternoon and visited the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran (also know as Crow Castle) then walked along the canal from Chirk to Llangollen on the Saturday. The final couple of miles to the canal's beginning near the Horseshoe Falls were completed on the Sunday before we returned home. We stayed at the Wynnstay Arms in Llangollen which was fine, and enjoyed a couple of evenings of live (and loud) music at a local pub.
Castell Dinas Bran overlooks Llangollen from its hilltop to the North of the town. It was built on the site of an Iron Age fort by Madoc ap Gruffydd in the early 13th century. It didn't play a significant part in the military history of the area, and was described as being in ruin by the 16th century, but is well worth a visit - it took us about 40 leisurely minutes to reach the castle from the centre of town. (This information about the castle was taken from an guide to "Llangollen where Wales welcomes the World".) A tourism leaflet ("Llangollen Myths and Legends") says that recent claims that Llangollen is the one time home of the Holy Grail have been strengthened by new research and that Castell Dinas Bran has been identified as the Grail Castle in the Medieval Romances.
The canal is the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. It leaves the main canal at Hurleston north west of Nantwich and enters Wales half-way across an aqueduct at Chirk, which is where we started our walk after travelling by a Bryn Melyn bus from Llangollen. The canal passes through two tunnels then over the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. We took time out here for lunch - to Tony's dismay the pub that attracted us from the canal was closed and we ate instead at a café further along the road in Fron Cysyllte - Tony's photo of a sign in the café records his frustration! Having crossed the aqueduct we reached Trevor Wharf and managed a pint or two at the Telford Inn. Then onwards to Llangollen where we decided to call it a day and walk the remaining two miles to the beginning of the canal near Llantisilio the next day. Between Llangollen and Llantisilio, near the Chain Bridge Hotel, the canal narrows to a feeder channel supplying the canal with water from the River Dee at the Horseshoe Falls