People have been drawn to the beauty of the Dee Valley for centuries. Once the Ruabon Railway opened in 1865, Victorian tourists flocked to Llangollen, Carrog and Corwen to enjoy the fresh air.
The area continues to attract visitors and this walk explores the upper parts of the valley above the river to Berwyn and Horseshoe Falls. Walkers can also visit the charming St Tysilio Church which sits near the river bank.
The Horseshoe Falls Spillway was created to form a pool of water, which could feed the Llangollen Canal. The journey back to town is along the canal towpath, but the walk could be shortened by taking the Llangollen Railway to Berwyn and rejoining the walk at point 4.
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1. The starting point is the bridge over the Dee in the center of town. At the south end of the bridge, walk along a narrow lane to the Corn Mill – which served as a watermill between 1786 and 1895. Continue along the Victorian riverside promenade. It was named after the Queen’s visit to Llangollen in 1899. Trains can still be seen entering or leaving the station opposite on the restored Llangollen Railway which runs the eight miles to Carrog and another two miles to Corwen.
Near the bandstand turn left and up the path to the main A5. Turn right and walk along the sidewalk towards a bus stop. Cross the road with caution and go up the lane that has a dead end sign. After passing Plas Geraint, take a marked path on the left which climbs through the woods to another road.
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2. This uphill section is the only part of the walk and although not steep it can be muddy and slippery after rain. You will come out on another road. Turn right and follow it past the half-timbered, thatched-roof house of Pen Llwybr and along the road until you come to a path that branches off to the right.
Views are fantastic with the town below leading to the ruins of Dinas Bran, the castle built in the 1260s by the Welsh prince Gruffudd ap Madoc and abandoned to the English forces of Edward 1 in 1277 and onwards until the Horseshoe Pass.
3. Follow this path to a farm on your left. Walk away from him on an obvious path to a bench seat which is as good a place as any to stop and breathe. Continue on the tree-lined path until you come to a sharp right turn. Follow the marked path through the wooded slope to a secondary road by Tan y Bedw Uchaf. Turn right down the street and pass other houses. You will hear traffic noise on the A5 getting louder. This lane meets the A5 and you will turn left.
4 Cross the A5 and walk along the pavement to Berwyn Station which sits above the River Dee. Llangollen Railway volunteers run a tearoom here at weekends when the trains are running.
From the station, turn right and walk down the B5103 road, passing under the railway viaduct and crossing Kings Bridge over the river and canal. Once you have crossed the bridge, follow the road until you reach the Llantysilio Green car park on the left. Go past the car park for about 500 meters.
5. While walkers still have to deal with oncoming traffic, there are good views of Llantisilio Church and Horseshoe Falls from the road, which means walking on the left side. Turn left towards the church.
Built in the 15th century, its features include a beautiful medieval roof, a rare medieval oak eagle desk and a carved font. Poet William Wordsworth once read a sermon here.
6. Go through the Kissing Gate near the Lychgate and follow the path down the river to Horseshoe Falls. It is a crescent-shaped man-made weir built by Thomas Telford to allow water from the river to be diverted into the canal.
The falls feed 12 million gallons of water per day into the canal. This reduced the flow of water so much that it could no longer power the mills.
Near the pumping station, the canal towpath passes the Chain Bridge and its adjacent hotel towards Llangollen. The Chain Bridge was built in 1929 to replace an 1870s bridge destroyed by flooding. An original footbridge, built in 1814, was used to transport coal from the canal to the A5. This section of the canal serves as a feeder section to the main waterway and is very narrow.
Only horse-drawn boats are allowed to use it. These boats regularly use the canal from the canal quay.
Distance: Four and a half miles
Time: Allow at least two hours but you will need time to admire the view
To note: Moderate. Only one climb and it’s quite early in the walk. Clear paths, canal towpath and some minor roads. Caution needed as the route crosses the busy A5 twice.
Beginning end: Bridge over the River Dee at Llangollen
Map: OL 256 Wrexham & Llangollen
Facilities: Public toilets at the downtown car park, 20p. Free at the Llantysilio Green car park. Refreshments in town and at Berwyn station (opening times vary).
Car park: Various paying car parks in town.
Getting Theree: The A5 crosses the city. Train to Ruabon then bus. More details online at traveline.cymru
7 In Pentrefelin, the Llantysilio tramway had its terminus. It was built around 1860 to transport slate from the quarries above the town to the mill here. The building now houses the famous automobile museum.
Later you will pass the Llangollen railway sidings and the International Eisteddfod building which hosts the week-long festival every July. After the Llangollen anchorages, usually filled with colorful barges, you will reach the cafe and stables of Canal Wharf. Take a right down the hill and you’ll end up near the north side of the bridge and the starting point.