Llangollen & Trevor Circular

Tuesday, 17th July 2018

The Day Steam Crows Rocks Panorama Woods Aqueduct Canal Evening Read Me

The Day's Blend of Steam, Crows, Panoramas and Canals

In the morning I arranged a visit to the workshops of the Llangollen Railway, to see the "new-builds" of three steam locomotives in progress as well as seeing a bit more of Llangollen's own iron horse stud at close quarters. In the afternoon, a circular walk of about 10¼ miles (16½ Km) and a total ascent of over one kilometre featured on my agenda. My walk took in Castell Dinas Brân for a second time, then the Trevor Rocks, the Panorama Path, the Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct (also a second visit - this time on foot) and finishing with a four-mile return along the Llangollen Canal. (Some of you may have done this walk on Sunday). An active and pleasurable day. I had checked into the Royal Hotel (a very good booking deal) earlier in the morning before visiting the steam engines.

This is the view towards Castell Dinas Brân from the path leading to the Trevor climbing rocks.

Steam Locomotives - "New-Builds" and "Old Builds"

At the end of the previous afternoon I arranged a visit to the "steam centre" of the Llangollen Railways. This centre has indeed become a centre for several new-build steam locomotives including the LMS Patriot "The Unknown Warrior", the GWR 47XX "Night Owl", the LNER B17 "Spirit of Sandringham" and the GWR "Bretton Grange". The latter is at the moment at Tysley, but the progress on the three others was for me interesting to see. Other examples of the Llangollen Railway's motive steam power were also in evidence - in various stages of maintenance. It was - for me - an interesting morning before doing my 10¼ mile circular walk from Llangollen to Trevor's Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct.

Not quite your scene? Then you can overfly my visit to the birth place of new steam engines and to the "stabling" of the more mature iron steeds. In order to reach the start of my 10¼ mile circular walk at quarter to midday, just click HERE, and you can experience, without further ado, the fruits of my subsequent longer distance bi-pedal locomotion.

Here is the famous view, from Llangollen's time-honoured and well-trodden bridge, of the swirling River Dee as it gurgles incessantly around the rocks. My first "port of call" this morning is the railway station on the right.

Here's looking back from the bridge into Llangollen and towards the Royal Hotel on the left.

At the Station I have a cup of Earl Grey before meeting the member of staff at 10:30 to accompany me to the steam centre - Health and Safety, you know. My hiking boots were deemed suitable for wending my way through and between the workbench tools and other items that are to be found in many an engineering workshop.

In the steam workshop, the new LMS Patriot - "The Unknown Warrior" - is gradually taking shape. Vital components, such as the boiler, are still to come.

The new LMS Patriot is on the right. On the left is "Small Prairie" number 5532 (built 1928) is awaiting a new, or renovated, boiler. Locomotive boilers must be pressure tested every 7 years for main line working and every 10 years for working on a heritage railway.

Here is the leading bogie of the "Patriot".

The "Patriot" is a three-cylinder machine as this picture shows.

The frames of the new-build LNER B17 "Spirit of Sandringham" look almost complete.
The thickness of the metal is clear to see!

Here are the frames of the new-build GWR 47XX "Night Owl". As implied, locomotives of this type were built to shift fast freight at night - perishables such as fish and milk.

Here are one of "Night Owl's" two cylinder blocks.

Outside the shed I saw several more engines. This one I would see again, in active service, at Berwyn, on my Velvet Hill walk on Thursday. This Standard 4MT dates from 1954.

This GWR 2-8-0 freight loco (vintage 1938) is about to receive
some attention before returning to "active service".

Here is "Jennifer" of 1942 vintage, an industrial 0-6-0T,
formerly No. 20 in the locomotive fleet of S. Fox and Co. Ltd.

Here she is again.
In front of her is an upturned firebox and boiler of another engine.

This diesel-electric shunter of 1956 vintage
looks as if needs some attention to its connecting rods.

Here is "Jessie" an 0-6-0 industrial saddle tank dating from 1937.

This GWR pannier tank was built in 1925 and sees frequent use on the Llangollen Railway.

Here is number 6430 again ...

... and yet again.

This LMS 4-6-0 is awaiting a fair bit of maintenance including attention to its boiler,
which has probably been sent off elsewhere for extensive specialist overhaul.

Here is "Small Prairie" number 5523 once more.
It belongs to the "Great Western Loco Group". One day, 5532 will run again.

For me it has been an interesting visit.
Now my afternoon walk awaits.

Castell Dinas Brân - Crow City Castle

King Brān was the legendary first king of Britain and according to Celtic mythology was a giant. He happened to live at Castell Dinas Brān, 320 m above sea level. Brān is the welsh for crow and raven (no distinction), so crows are associated with King Brān and his "Castell". The present castle probably dates to the 1260s, and its ruins tell of a lively (and perhaps not always so lovely) past. Edward I of England came to power in 1272 and the "Castell" played its part in the subsequent wars between the Welsh and the English in 1276.

On my second visit to the Castell, I approach from the Llangollen side.

Yes, you are now approaching Crow City Castle.

There seems to be a lot to crow about up at the Castell.

On the way up there is a distant view towards the west.

I have scaled the heights.

The view towards the west is even better.

View towards the east and England.

Another view towards the east ...

... this time framed by the ancient arch.

View towards the south.

Guarding the descent on the other side I find crow number two.

On the descent we look across towards the Panorama Walk ...

... and looking back we get another view of the Castell.

Trevor Climbing Rocks

Before we reach the Panorama Walk we can divert from the road to the Trevor Rocks, part of which used to be a council rubbish tip. The local council saw reason and cleared the tip. Some of the rocks are now used by the climbing fraternity for practising their skills. The area is also impressive for walkers.

Coming off the road ...

... a path up to the rocks has been formed from the scree.

From the path ...

... there are nice views ...

... at several points ...

... back towards the Castell sitting in the landscape.

On top, the stark rocks ...

... provide good climbing practice.

Panorama Walk

The Panorama Walk is actually a small part of the Offa's Dyke Path, but a part that is packed with scenic punch. There are views to the south across the Dee Valley and views to the west across to Castell Dinas Brân and the countryside beyond. So, it's scenic indeed!

Looking back from the Panorama Walk there are nice views
of the Trevor Climbing Rocks, ...

... the Trevor Rocks and Castell Dinas Brân ...

... and Castell Dinas Brân.

The Castell and the Rocks ...

... gradually recede into the distance ...

... as I advance along the Panorama Path.

Just before entering the Trevor Hall Woods,
one gets this view into the Dee Valley east of Llangollen.

Trevor Hall Wood

After the Panorama Path, the Offa's Dyke Path dives into the extensive Trevor Hall Wood before reaching open ground and the Trevor (Pont Cysyllte) Aqueduct. In this sunny summer weather, the woods were cool and refreshing! I deviated to see the Trevor Church and Hall nestling below the woods, before continuing towards Trevor and the Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct.

The (North to South Wales) Offa's Dyke Path dived into the woods ...

... whose shade was indeed refreshing in the hot weather!

The tall fir trees gave that "cathedral-like" effect.

Here are Trevor Church ...

... and the gates to the 16th Century Trevor Hall.

Trevor Hall and Church are used for special functions and receptions, but today both were closed. Can't win 'em all! I would see Trevor Hall later from the Llangollen Canal.

Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct

The 307-metre-long 18 span Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct takes the Llangollen Canal over the River Dee. It is the highest aqueduct in the world, as well as being the oldest and longest navigable aqueduct in Great Britain. So, lots of superlatives! It took ten years (1795-1805) to build and was designed by Thomas Telford and William Jessop. Stone piers and a cast iron water trough characterize this aqueduct. This time I visited the aqueduct on foot. The previous time was just two days ago when some of us motored out from Llangollen to Chirk and Trevor. Anyway, this working relic of the early industrial age was always worth another visit!

The "barge basin" narrows onto the entrance of the aqueduct giving a "sloping" impression which is not supported by the laws of physics, at least not as we know them!

Here is a close up of the 307-metre-long aqueduct.
Is it really as long as that?

A sideways view suggests that the aqueduct could indeed be as long as 307 metres.

Originally canals were built to carry the goods and freight needed to support
the manufacturing activities that formed part of the industrial revolution.
Now, canals support a different kind of industry: the tourist and leisure industry.
If there's a boat already crossing the aqueduct, those going the opposite way will have to wait - but there's always plenty of time and camaraderie between different boat crews on a canal trip.

From the flower-bedecked bridge you can look towards the Telford Inn and the north canal basin. The latter may have been intended for goods transhipment
between the canal and the (now defunct) railway.

Llangollen Canal

It was approaching 16:30, so it seemed prudent to return to Llangollen from the aqueduct at Trevor along the 4½ mile towpath of the Llangollen Canal. Those of you who went on John's Dee Valley Way walk on Saturday, came past the Horseshoe Falls near Berwyn Station; it is at the Horseshoe Falls where the Llangollen Canal is fed from the River Dee. At Trevor, the said canal changes direction, making a sharp turn to the south over the Pont Cysyllte and Chirk Aqueducts. Anyway, it was a scenic, if by its nature level, walk back to Llangollen.

It's, as you would expect, a flat walk along the canal back to Llangollen.

However, with hills rising up to 390 metres, the walk is scenic.

On the other (north) side of the canal we can see Trevor Hall - whose gates we passed earlier - nestling in the landscape. The three-storey red brick Georgian mansion was
built in 1742 and is now used for special functions.

Trevor Hall in close-up.

Some way further towards Llangollen, we see up ahead our old friend Castell Dinas Brân - all 290 metres of it - up to which we climbed a few hours earlier

Here is a real live "lift bridge" which gives the farmer vehicular access to his field on the other side of the canal. The bridge is reminiscent of those found in the Low Countries.

This boat sports ...

... two of these nice crests, presumably on each side. (Four crests in all). This looks like a reproduction of the Myddelton family crest (the Myddeltons of Chirk Castle). Most things are there, including the hand and the Latin quip, meaning, "I triumph in the truth". However, the three wolves have been metamorphosed into placid-looking horses!

By the canal near Llangollen we find this house with crenellations, which we saw on our circular walk on Saturday. The house seems to be built in an architectural style popular at the beginning of the 19th century. The style is not "Gothick", but the name eludes me!

The canal is higher than Llangollen, so we get this view on to the town with its ancient bridge.

At the tea rooms and the crane, we go down to Llangollen town.


It was an interesting and instructive day - I learnt and did quite a number of new things. Because I started my walk late at 11:45, I got back about 19:30. I therefore snacked on a few "health bars" and some fruit - a frugal evening repast of the "dine like a pauper" kind, as medical knowledge recommends. I slept like a proverbial log - perhaps because of this. It would be a good breakfast next morning! What you see here are a few final pictures I took before retiring for the night.

Famous view of the lively (and lovely) River Dee from the ancient bridge.

The Royal Hotel where I got a very good booking deal.

Llangollen Bridge from the "Dee-side" terrace of the hotel.

Hotel lobby: potted history of the hotel.

Hotel lobby: nice flower arrangement.
Come on now, we surely all - of whatever background - have at least some aesthetic appreciation!

Old prints often provide a fascinating glimpse into history like this copper print in the hotel.
The print is probably 18th or early 19th century. It is entitled:
"The North View of Wrexham Church in the County of Denbigh."

The print has an interesting crest. Dear viewer of this web page,
perhaps you can enlighten me about whose crest this might be!

Stow House in Buckinghamshire from the equestrian statue (of George I?) in the Park.
What's this doing in Wales?