Sep 25, 2011

Enjoying LLangollen, Wales

John and I were impressed with the diversity of things to do in Northern Wales – all within a short drive. We visited castles, national parks, a woolen mill, unique villages, and took a canal boat ride in the lovely village of Llangollen. In Llangollen there are several canal trips available including a horse-drawn one, which was the trip we wanted to take. However, fate intervened when we arrived at the wharf. Their two-hour motorized boat trip that crosses the aqueduct – the last of the day – was about to leave so we bought tickets. A short bus ride took us to a picturesque dock where we boarded the narrow canal boat. The trip was beautiful as it passed through the countryside where people were hiking, biking, kayaking and awe inspiring as it crossed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct 126 feet above the Dee River. Only one canal boat can cross the aqueduct at a time as it is extremely narrow. It is an amazing 1007 feet long supported by 18 stone pillars. It was built between 1795 and 1805 and is a World Heritage site. I wished we had time to try their other canal trips; they have one to Horseshoe Falls and the horse-drawn one.

We loved the small, quaint town of Llangollen. We stayed at the Cornerstones B&B in the center of town. It is made up of three connected town houses built in the 1500s but with all the comforts of today. What would the original inhabitants think of electric lights, TV, and Internet? I could have sat for hours looking out our window at the rapids of the River Dee. For dinner we walked to the Corn Mill Restaurant where flour was stone ground for seven hundred years - until 1974 when it was turned into a restaurant. The restaurant, located on the River Dee has huge exposed beams and a working waterwheel that can be viewed behind the bar or through floor windows in the upper dining area. The menu features many locally sourced items such as lamb and trout. Across the river is the railroad station where steam trains still arrive.

Llangollen is where we dropped off our rental car. Actually what we did was left the keys with Carol, the Cornerstone Inn keeper, hoping the rental car people would show up to get it – I guess they did. We are always happy to return a rental car in the same condition as when we picked it up, especially after navigating on the left side of the road. The roads in Wales are all good albeit some of the country roads are a tad bit narrow but the traffic is light. The Welsh are very proud of their heritage; even so, I was surprised to learn that Welsh Gaelic is the primary language in many of the elementary schools even though English is the language everyone speaks. All of Wales seemed very relaxed and comfortable to us. It is a place we would like to return to explore more slowly than we did this time. The countryside pace suits us. Before our visit we had heard many travelers singing the praise of Wales – now we understand why. The last morning in Wales we walked down the street from the Cornerstones B&B to the bus stop where we boarded the modern bus to Glasgow. Everything was so convenient.