A walk through time – from a 19th century canal to a medieval castle

So it has stopped raining (for now) and spring is upon us. And what a glorious weekend it was. So out came my walking boots and off I went.


Trevor Basin near the Pontcysyllte Aqueduc

I started at the Trevor Basin near the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and made my way along the Llangollen Canal towards Llangollen. The Llangollen Canal is a navigable canal linking Llangollen in Denbighshire, North Wales, with Hurleston in south Cheshire. In 2009 an eleven-mile section of the canal including Chirk Aqueduct and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Looking back at the aqueduct

Looking back at the aqueduct

The canal was built when the Ellesmere Canal couldn’t be completed in the early 19th century due to various problems. Lacking a main source of water (the proposed source was at Moss Valley, Wrexham), a feeder channel was constructed running along the Vale of Llangollen to the River Dee and creating the Horseshoe Falls.


Some art along the way


That’s where I was heading – Castell Dinas Brân

In the 1980s British Waterways renamed these surviving sections of the Ellesmere Canal or the ‘Llangollen Branch of the Shropshire Union’ as the Llangollen Canal and it has been one of the most popular canals for holidaymakers in Britain ever since.


Getting closer to Llangollen. Some boats mooring on the canal.

To step back further in time I had to climb up.

Next stop Dinas Brân.

Next stop Dinas Brân.

The ruins of the medieval Castell Dinas Brân stand high on a hill above the town of Llangollen. It is also the site of an Iron Age hill fort.

Almost there. I think the lambs had the right idea...

Almost there. I think the lambs had the right idea…

The castle visible today was probably built by Gruffydd II ap Madog sometime in the 1260s.


As a reward you get some stunning views

Dinas Brân is a rectangular castle with a steep natural slope of several hundred feet beyond the northern wall and a 20 feet deep ditch around the southern and eastern walls.


View from the other side of the ditch towards the castle. The remains of the Keep are on the right.


View towards the ruins of the Great Hall with its big windows.


Looking back towards the River Dee and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. You can just about make it out in the background.

The two-storey Keep stands at the south eastern corner overlooking a quite easy approach to the castle from the River Dee. Next to the Keep at the north eastern corner is the gatehouse which would have probably been approached via wooden bridge. The Great Hall was sited at the castle’s southern side. Its large windows still look south across the valley and an arched way leads to what once was the kitchens in the adjacent Welsh Tower.

The old gatehouse (I think) with some excellent views.

The old gatehouse (I think) with some excellent views.


Looking towards the arched way


It’s impressive that these arches still stand after hundreds of years …


… and being exposed to some fierce weather on top of that hill.


You can just make out parts of Llangollen in the valley on the left

Time to head back along the canal.


Some interesting bridges along the way


I do like the various stone bridges you find along canals.


No trip in North Wales without sheep of course.

And when I was almost back at the Trevor Basin I met Harriet the dog, who fell (yes, fell) into the canal. She was more interested in the squirrels on the opposite side than what was beneath her paws. She sounded and looked a bit surprised…


2 thoughts on “A walk through time – from a 19th century canal to a medieval castle

  1. Pingback: Afternoon stroll with panoramic views | design and dragons

  2. Pingback: A canal and a castle | design and dragons

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