Everyone should experience a trip over Thomas Telford and William Jessop’s awe-inspiring aqueduct, by boat or on foot – it’s a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a World Heritage Site, and a Grade I Listed structure!
The aqueduct, which transports the Llangollen Canal over the beautiful River Dee valley, is a massive 1,000 feet long and 126 feet high. Such distances had never before been achieved, until Telford’s innovative decision to build it by laying an iron water-carrying trough on stone piers.
The lime mortar used to construct this architectural marvel included ox blood (gruesome!) and to this day, the joints are effectively sealed using a mixture of flannel and lead dipped in liquid sugar – not the most reassuring fact when you’re walking across the aqueduct – but, don’t worry, it’s completely safe!
More than 1,000 canal boats cross this bridge every year and you can experience the magical ingenuity of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct for yourself by taking a trip across the waterway. The trough sides are only just above the water and so the inhabitants of the narrow boats must have a good head for heights, as it appears as if you’re floating above a great abyss. Every five years, the aqueduct is closed and the water drained, so the trough can undergo maintenance.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened in 1805 – it’s more than two centuries old and still going strong! The aqueduct took ten years to design and cost £47,000 to build; which is £2,939,000 in today’s money.
Despite the vast bill, the canal ends a short distance away, but we’re told that a small community of otters love it almost as much as we do!
c/o Wrexham Tourist Information Centre
tel: 01978 292015