Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site
Eleven miles of World Heritage on the border of Shropshire and North Wales; the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal (including Chirk Aqueduct near Oswestry and the Horseshoe Falls at Llantysilio, near Llangollen) was awarded official UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2009. It's an exclusive club that includes world famous sites like the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Ironbridge Gorge (our other World Heritage Site in Shropshire!).
UNESCO agreed that Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (pronounced 'Pont-ker-suck-tay' for non-Welsh speakers) represented a 'masterpiece of human creative genius' and that it was an outstanding example of a construction that 'illustrated a significant stage in human history.' We couldn't agree more.
Built by Thomas Telford between 1795 and 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, known locally as the 'River in the Sky' is regarded as one of Telford's greatest achievements. A cast iron trough on top of 18 stone piers carries the Shropshire Union Canal 126 foot above the river Dee.
Take an exhilarating canal boat trip across Pontcysyllte (just remember your head for heights and a camera to capture the fantastic views) or walk across the 1007 foot long structure. The scenery is breathtaking.
Browse around the canalside and information centre at Trevor Basin, the mooring which adjoins Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
Chirk Aqueduct near Oswestry
There are two aqueducts within the World Heritage Site and several places where you can join or leave the canal tow path. Chirk Bank near Chirk Aqueduct and Viaduct in Shropshire is one such place, just a few miles downstream from Pontcysyllte.
Completed in 1801, Chirk Aqueduct carries the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal high above the Ceiriog Valley and offers more beautiful views. There is a car park just off Castle Road right opposite the aqueduct, and Chirk railway station is less than five minutes' walk away, so it's easily accessible. There is also a small visitor car park at Gledrid Bridge about half a mile along the towpath. This gives ramped access to the towpath and level walking all the way to Chirk Aqueduct.
From the railway station, 14th century National Trust property Chirk Castle complete with medieval tower and dungeon, is about a 30minute walk away. There are a number of independent cafés and restaurants in the border town of Chirk, so you can get some quality sustenance to set you up for a canal side stroll or cycle ride.
Along the tow path you'll pass picturesque cottages and can pop in to eat or drink in one of the welcoming pubs. A few yards into the tunnel next to Chirk Aqueduct and you'll see, or rather not see, why it's known as 'The Darkie'! The tunnel is 420 metres of extreme darkness, so you may want to bring a torch. If you're not scared of the dark, keep walking from Chirk to Froncysyllte and you can explore the other tunnel at Whitehurst too.
For more information about Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site, including handy public transport guide and map, visit www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk