Our passage today was from our mooring at the delightful canal side pub, “The Poacher”, near Chirk to the terminus of the canal at Llangollen. My favorite cap managed to stay on at The Poacher, but a telephone call has left me assured that it will be waiting for me at my return as will dinner and a pint.
Today’s weather was a gift and this section of our journey was easily the most spectacular both for the scenery and the experiences. It is this stretch that has appropriately acquired the status of a World Heritage Site.
Just beyond Chirk we crossed the Chirk Aqueduct and Tunnel. The aqueduct was built in 1801 and is carried upon 10 massive stone arches. The adjoining and equally picturesque rail trestle was completed in 1848. Immediately after the aqueduct we made a sharp blind turn and entered the 460 yard long Chirk Tunnel.
The passage across aqueduct and through the tunnel took about 20 minutes, but (thanks to Kris at the bow!) has been compressed into a 40 second time lapse video. Here is the link: Chirk Aqueduct and Tunnel.
Many consider the experience at Chirk reason enough to justify the travel days upon the Llangollen Canal. I count myself among them, and yet the best was yet to come.
Nearing Trevor, and 4 miles (about 2 hours by narrowboat) from Llangollen, we came upon the breathtaking Pontcysylite Aqueduct.
Supported by 18 massive stone arches, this 1,000 foot long iron trough carries the canal 127 feet above the River Dee. There is a walkway on one side with a protective railing, but for the narrowboat helmsman (that would be me) it is a matter of just inches from the tiller to an open abyss on the port side. This engineering marvel was completed in 1805, the year that Admiral Nelson and 458 British seamen perished in the naval victory over the French at Trafalgar. Only one life was lost in the building of the Pontcysylite Aqueduct. Here is a link to Kris’ time lapse video of our crossing of the Aqueduct: The Pontcysylite Aqueduct.
The majesty of the tunnel and aqueducts should not overshadow the stunning scenery as the canal seemingly ascends the hill and cliffside overlooking the valley of the River Dee. Necessarily, there are stretches where the canal narrows to a single boat width and oncoming vessels are required to “queue-up”. One of these sections is over a quarter of a mile long, and is chiseled through solid rock. The towpath along the miles from Trevor to Llangollen is well maintained and a popular walking/biking trail. It is here that watching the narrowboats becomes a “spectator sport”.
Not to be outdone by the canal, the town of Llangollen is a well preserved wonder from the past. More about that tomorrow.
Our evening concluded with an excellent dinner at The Corn Mill.
We were joined at table by Peter and Carol, a delightful couple of our generation who met 7 years ago “rambling” in Cuba, fell in love, and are now celebrating 2 years of marriage. Intrigued, we listened to the tales of their travel and hiking adventures, quickly coming to the realization that here were kindred souls. I thought to myself that surely they must have walked the Camino… indeed they had!
The world is small, and it is also a loadstone that seems to draw Christine and me to our far flung adventure seeking “siblings”. In a few days Peter and Carol will be taking the tiller of a narrowboat and heading up-water on the Llangollen Canal. We hope to pass them as we descend and perhaps reprise this wonderful evening.
Peace Everyone. Pete
PS: Oh yes… about the “interesting” boaters that caused our vessel to come unmoored at “The Poacher” last evening… we encountered them twice today. Once when they charged ahead heedless of the line of vessels queuing to cross the Chirk Aqueduct, and again as one of the two boaters proceeded against a warning sign that prohibited boat traffic from entering a non-navigable feeder at the end of the canal. On both occasions my yells projected at maximum volume arrested their misadventure. Their startled looks and submission brought me a degree of satisfaction.
9 thoughts on “April 17, 2019. Llangollen!”
The Thomas Telford engineering marvel that is Pontcysylite is one of our favorite destinations. When visitors would come from the US we always took them there. The little castle at Chirk is beautiful as well and in the spring the grounds bloom with bulbs. Delightful! So happy you are enjoying your experience with your narrowboat. It is clear that you have an awesome crew!
Pete Schloss says:
Vicki, we are back at Poachers in Chirk. I have retrieved my hat and we plan to hike to the Castle. Wonderful, and thank you!!
When Pam told me that you were going to boat into Wales, I thought she was mistaken. I says the place is surrounded by mountains and hills unless you find a way to slide in along the coast. So now I know the way to boat into Wales through the hills. It looks like a fun adventure for you and we hope you continue to fill your present vessel with joy. Sad to say, I do not have the patience to really enjoy something like this in person. Cheers to you and Chris!
Pete Schloss says:
Thank you Steve! We look forward to sharing dinner with you and Pam once we are back in Kansas City.
Pauline Schloss says:
I can just say “Oh, my!” Happy you got to shout at those Jerks. You are fortunate to find others to break bread together.” Even for Paul and I, there is no one.
Tom Grimaldi says:
Road Rage (‘Canal Rage?’) at 4 MPH? Only in Britain.
So how do they control traffic in those tunnels and aqueducts so you don’t get halfway through and encounter a boat going the other direction?
Pete Schloss says:
Tom, I believe that the British invented the cue. They are experts at it. It is only the occasional foreigner that confounds the system.
So very far behind in your travels. Family illness and yard work when there was no rain kept me busy. But now as I travel bus to plane to the Camino Portugués I plan to catch up. Hugs
Pete Schloss says: