In my travels around Europe and the UK I have encountered many engineering and architectural wonders, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, the Forth Bridge, the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark and the magnificent Vasco de Gama Bridge in Lisbon to name just a few.
Last week I took the opportunity to visit the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen in North Wales. Since moving to Cheshire last November a number of people have said you must go to see the “canal in the sky” as it is an engineering marvel and only about one hours drive from where you are now living.
In 1805, architects Thomas Telford and William Jessop built Pontcysyllte’s cast iron aqueduct on 19 pillars over 100 feet (30 metres) above the River Dee, on the Welsh-English border. More than 200 years later, this vast landmark was named a World Heritage Site and it is now the longest navigable aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest in the world.
So taking advantage of the beautiful weather and going mid week to avoid the hordes of tourists we set out to visit the aqueduct. Upon arrival we headed for “Jones the Boat” to book a trip on a narrow boat across the bridge and also take on light refreshments (the obligatory cappuccino).
The very helpful young man pointed us in the direction of the aqueduct and suggested we walk across it before our boat trip. The first sight of it is a little unnerving as there is a narrow path at the side of a VERY narrow canal which crosses the aqueduct, however, the views from the path are quite spectacular, looking down to the River Dee which runs below and the Welsh hills in the near vicinity.
I stood and watched a narrow boat come across the canal and on board was an elderly gentleman on the tiller whilst his wife stood at the front. As they reached the end of the aqueduct section, the woman smiled at me, breathed a sigh of relief and said, “I am glad that is over”.
The boat trip across the aqueduct is wonderful if a little unsettling as on one side there is no barrier and just a straight drop to the ground one hundred feet below. I managed to get to the front of the boat along with several other keen photographers to start shooting the trip across. The trip lasts about forty-five minutes and it would be a crime not to experience it if you visit.
We also took the opportunity to walk down to the foot of the aqueduct and it is from this vantage point that you can fully appreciate the immensity of the task they faced when constructing it. It also looks a damn site more than one hundred feet in height from the base.
There is an excellent little visitor’s centre with very helpful staff and of course I succumbed and bought my grandson a badge and a key ring!
If you have never been to this wonderful place then put it down as a “must visit” place for the future. It is part of our proud industrial heritage and we should support it as much as possible.
Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018