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  • Location: Llangollen Canal to Dinas Bran.
  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Walking guide: Samantha Williams
  • Description of this walk: A walk packed with history that begins and ends with the beautiful town of Llangollen.

Start of the walk

This walk starts off in the town of Llangollen by the Heol y Castell Bridge.

Llangollen has lots of different periods of history all in a relatively short space including Bronze Age burial mounds, medieval castles, a Cistercian abbey and the industrial canal.

For the first two miles the route follows the canal before heading out into the open countryside, around the Horseshoe Falls, then across hill sides and farmland to the ruined Vallé Crucis Abbey and Castell Dinas Brân before returning to Llangollen.

Archaeologist and the hillfort conservation officer for Denbighshire Council, Samantha Williams, was the guide on the walk; she is from Llangollen and set up the history trail that runs alongside the walk.

Llangollen Canal

Llangollen Canal was built by Thomas Telford in 1805. It was used to take water from the Dee to feed the Shropshire Union Canal, as well as transporting slate from the local quarries.

However, when the railway opened in 1865 the canal was no longer used for industry, but since then it has proved a popular tourist attraction.

This path will take you all the way to the beginning of the canal, and the pump house from where the water is taken from the Dee.

Every day it pumps eight million gallons of water into the canal, a side affect of this piece of industrial engineering is the beautiful crescent shaped Horseshoe Falls.

Llantysilio church

Once you've made it past the falls the route heads up to Llantysilio church which was built around the 1250s (although much of the current building is actually Victorian reconstruction).

It is worth taking a look inside the church as there is a commemorative plaque to the poet Robert Browning (who worshipped there) as well as a beautiful medieval stained glass window - a survivor from the ruined monastery which is the next stop on the walk.

The route continues up and across Velvet Hill, before reaching Vallé Crucis Abbey.

Vallé Crucis Abbey

The abbey was founded in 1201 and was home to around 60 monks; it survived attacks from Edward I, Owain Glyndwr and also the Black Death before succumbing to the Dissolution in 1537.

The abbey may be in ruins, but it is a fantastic place to visit, and would make a great place to stop on the walk.

Also look out for the ducks paddling in the pond at the rear of the abbey. It's the only remaining medieval fish pond in Wales.

Around 50,000 people come on this walk every year, and this figure is actually measured using a pressure pad beneath one of the stiles which records the number of people who cross it.

Castell Dinas Brân

The last stop on this walk before heading back to Llangollen is Castell Dinas Brân. It is a steep hill to get up, but there are some fantastic views from the top so it is worth the hike.

Dinas Brân roughly translates as Crow's Fortress and stands about 1,000ft above sea level dominating the sky line.

There are lots of stories associated with the castle, one of which tells of a golden treasure which has lain here undiscovered for centuries.

It has also been linked to the Holy Grail; allegedly it was held here for safe keeping some time in the first century.

The route from the castle is back down a path towards Llangollen, about a mile or so.

This walk featured in the Weatherman Walking series on BBC One Wales in 2008.

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