"A World Heritage Site"
The longest and highest aqueduct in the UK, is on the Llangollen Canal, and is still in use today.
Originally a part of the Ellesmere Canal, now a part of the Llangollen Canal, it carries the canal over the river Dee between the villages of Trevor and Froncysyllte, nr Llangollen in North East Wales, not a large distance from the English border. It was the third iron canal viaduct to be built in the world.
The aqueduct is an impressive cast iron trough 1,007ft long supported 126ft above the River Dee by 19 masonry piers.
This took around 10 years to design and build, being an engineering breakthrough for its time. It was opened in November 1805. To put it into historic perspective this is the same year that Nelson won the battle of Trafalgar.
It was built by Thomas Telford who had previously created the first large scale cast iron navigable aqueduct at Longdon-on-Tern Aqueduct Shropshire, this still stands in a field although the rest of the canal was abandoned in 1944. The construction of this is very similar, although its not high off the ground.
The principal engineer for the canal was William Jessop 1745-1814. The General agent was Thomas Telford 1757-1834, then a little known county surveyor, but to become the most prolific civil engineer of the early 19th century.
From the northern side, where parking is available, you can access the canal towpath that goes across the aqueduct, the towpath is built over the water trough, a design that allows water from in front of boats to go under the towpath and around behind. There is fence along the towpath side, but the on other side there is no fence so when riding in a canal boat across the viaduct, and with the aqueduct sides only around 6 inches above the water, there appears to be nothing except a large fall off the side of the boat. From the northern end you can also go down the hillside and along the river side path below. From the southern side you can get just below the aqueduct on both sides giving a good view of its construction.
A view from on the
towpath notice the fence on the left,
Preliminaries having been completed, an application for this to be classed as a world heritage site goes before the United Nations committee in July 2009.
It is possible to hire a canal boat, both at Chirk Marina (Tel: 01691 774558) or at Trefor Basin (Tel: Anglo Welsh on 01978 821749 or Ribbon Plate on 01978 823215) and by this means cross the Aqueduct by boat. Alternatively there are canal boat trips available for those who want to sit and take it all in, these typically take around 2 hours. My preference was to walk across, around, down below, along the valley .....
A view from on the Aqueduct towpath down to the River and valley below.
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