Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

One of the major engineering triumphs of Thomas Telford's remarkable career, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the Shropshire Union Canal across the River Dee. The aqueduct is 127 feet above the valley floor (about 39 metres). It was one of the very first aqueducts to make use of a cast-iron trough. Although Telford usually gets most of the credit for Pontcysyllte, it was actually a joint effort with William Jessop.

Aside from its purely practical use as a waterway for narrowboats, the aqueduct carries 500 million gallons of water daily for use by residents of Cheshire. The aqueduct cost 47,000 pounds to create, took 10 years to build and opened in 1805. Most of the iron used to create the inner structure was cast locally at Plaskynaston iron foundry.

The pillars supporting the trough are of local stone. There are 18 pillars supporting a trough 1007 feet long, 11'10" wide and only 5'3" deep. A walkway for pedestrians runs along the east side of the aqueduct, with a railing for protection.

It is quite an amazing experience walking across the aqueduct, and it's even more fun watching narrowboats navigate the canal, steered by operators with, shall we say, varying levels of skill? I think that watching people navigate the aqueduct is at least as popular as actually doing it yourself!

You can walk from one bank to the other (and beyond if you wish), and even hire boats at the Trevor end of the aqueduct if you'd like to take a trip along the canal yourself. And when you've done all that, enjoy a quiet drink at the lovely old Telford Inn on the north-west bank.

Pontcysyllte is located at Trevor, 4 miles east of Llangollen. It can be reached from either the A539 or the A5, but the main visitor parking area is just off the A539 on the north side of the River Dee.