‘The end of the road’, the Jewel in the Crown.
The Horseshoe Falls or rhaeadr y Bedol in Welsh is a weir on the River Dee 3 miles north-west of Llangollen. The weir is 460 foot long and feeds the Llangollen Canal over 13 imperial gallons per day. Designed by Thomas Telford, the canal and feeder were completed in 1808. The canal and weir have been part of a World Heritage Site which covers 11 miles from Chirk Aqueduct to the Horseshoe Falls.
The canal from Llangollen to the Falls is not navigable by boat, but a towpath extends along the bank right up to the Falls and if you fancy a walk, it’s a distance of just over 1.5 miles
Llangollen Railway Station and Steam Train
The Llangollen Railway Station opened to passengers in June 1862 and closed in 1965. 10 years later Llangollen Railway was formed and began reconstruction, shortly after in 1981 Llangollen Station then re-opened officially. The Station is located beside the historic Dee bridge (built in 1345).
The line originally went from Ruabon to barmouth taking people on holiday, nowadays the journey is a relaxing 10 miles following the picturesque River Dee. Details on which Steam trains are running and timetables can be found here.
Castell Dinas Bran
The first building at the site was a Iron Age hillfort around 600 BC. Early records say that this was destroyed by fire and the castle that is visible today was probably built in the 1260’s by Gruffydd Maelor II, a Prince of Powys Fadog. It was rumoured that no one had enough courage to stay overnight in the castle for fears of evil spirits.
A Norman Knight, Payn Peverill and his 15 knights decided to stay the night, a storm blows up and a evil mace wielding giant called Gogmagog appears. Payn defends his men and finally defeats the giant, as the giant is dying he tells of a great treasure including a huge golden ox buried at at Dinas Bran, but passes before revealing the location. The castle may be approached from 2 directions.
One way is from Offas Dyke path which is on the NW side of the hill, this route is shorter and steeper. The other way is from Llangollen Canal bridge, it gradually climbs past some cottages before opening out onto the slopes of the hill. A zigzag path then climbs to the summit.
Advice is to wear suitable clothing for an arduous walk.
Plas Newydd pronounced plas no-with (new hall or new mansion)is a historic house in the town of Llangollen, now run as a museum by Denbigh County Council. Two Irish ladies eloped and set up house together in the late 18th century. Originally ostracised by their families, the ladies gradually became accepted.
The ladies were visited by famous people including William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron and Josiah Wedgwood. Queen Charlotte was so interested that she asked for plans of the house and garden and she persuaded King George III to grant them a pension.
After their deaths the property passed through various hands, in 1932 it was acquired by Llangollen Urban District Council. It is now restored to the final structure left by the Ladies of Llangollen. More information and opening times can be found here
Valle Crucis Abbey
Valle Crucis Abbey was founded in 1201 by Madog ap Gruffyd Maelor on the site of a wooden church. Being in the principlity of Powys Fadog, Valle Crucis Abbey was the spiritual centre of the region, while Dinas Bran Castle was the military and political stronghold. Madog was buried in the then completed abbey upon his death in 1236.
The original wooden church was a temporary building and was replaced with this stone structure which is believed to have housed over 120 people in its prime. In 1537 the abbey was dissolved as it was not as prosperous compared to other wealthy English abbeys.
It has been converted to a manor house and later a farm house. If you’re feeling fit from walking to the Horseshoe Falls carry on for another mile, which should take you around 25 miles depending on fitness.