Thursday, 6 July 2017

The stream in the sky and other tall stories

On our visit to North Shropshire, I was excited to see some fabulous architecture  just over the border in Wales.

Our first stop in Wales was the aqueduct at Pontcysyllte, built by engineer Thomas Telford, and completed in 1805. It carries the Llangollen canal over the river Dee and valley below. Interesting to note that the trough which carries the canal is made of pieces of iron bolted together then the gaps are filled with Welsh flannel soaked in tar, a technique which was repeated recently when the aqueduct underwent repairs. The aqueduct is the longest navigable aqueduct in the UK and the highest in the world at 126 feet to the ironwork, the trough is 11 feet 10 inches wide and 5 feet three inches deep. There is a handrail on one side of the aqueduct only, the towpath side.

We didn't walk across it!

  We weren't up to tramping about in the river valley below to get the best viewpoint so I snapped this as we drove over the river. See the narrowboat on the aqueduct to the left?

The aqueduct is fed with water from the river Dee, we drove several miles to the horseshoe falls and found the very start of the Llangollen canal.

The falls are set in spectacular scenery, in fact the whole area is stunning

 Thomas Telford designed the horseshoe shaped weir to draw water from the river to feed his new canal

This little inlet of pure sparkling (and slightly tea coloured, think that's down to the peaty soil) water enters a meter house below

and comes out as the Llangollen canal.

The meter house measures how much water is being taken from the river, currently around 12 million gallons a day.

We had passed through Llangollen on the way to the falls, and went back to enjoy lunch at the corm mill pub, which has a balcony jutting out over the fast flowing river.

There is a lot of birdlife on the river, the rocks create shallow areas and little pools and lots of different birds came to feed and drink while we watched the flow.

The corn mill is on the left of the photo, we were able to watch steam trains come in to the station on the other side of the river.

OH catching a bit of sun whilst waiting for his lunch!

We popped in to a local country park, which happens to be partly underneath another industrial construction, the Cefn viaduct. As the viaduct carries trains, there is no public access. No matter, we were able to park almost underneath it and wander along the river Dee to a lovely vantage point to admire the architecture.

OH drinking his tea.

The viaduct was built in 1848 by Thomas Brassey to carry the Shrewsbury and Chester railway across the river Dee valley.

The river was easily accessible from the country park, and made for a lovely stroll.

Further downstream we found picnicers and lots of dog walkers.

At the end of our walk we found a shop and other facilities and a gorgeous view across the valley.

I love the bit of foliage peeking over from the track!
Last stop on the bridge front was Chirk. Here they have both an aqueduct and viaduct in close proximity.

The viaduct was built after the aqueduct and higher, to denote the superiority of the railway over the canals. 
At this point I am in Wales, but halfway across is the border with England

On the Welsh side the canal enters a long tunnel, 461 yards long to be precise.  The tunnel entrance, like the aqueduct and viaduct are grade II listed  

There is a towpath along the whole of the tunnel and walkers are advised to use a flashlight or torch as it's pretty dark in there. Helpfully, the towpath has a handrail along it's length so you don't fall in!

All of the above are free to visit, there is a small parking charge at horseshoe falls for non National Trust members of £1 and Llangollen town centre, which is pay and display and the local authority controls car parks and on street parking.

Free parking is available in Chirk outside the Police station, a short walk from the bridges and tunnel entrance