An Historic Walk Around the Town of Llangollen, North Wales

Walk Information

Start - Market Street - large car park available accessed via this street.

Refreshments - the Cornmill, (restaurant/pub) provides an extensive choice of beers/wines and meals in an attractive river setting. Seating is also available outside overlooking the River Dee.

Terrain - tarmacked paths, pavements, hills and steps. If you intend walking in the glen at Plas Newydd, walking boots are recommended as the paths can be muddy.

Duration - 2 hours. The walk can be shortened or lengthened by removing or adding sections. It is worth having a quick look through the guide before starting out, so a route can be planned.

Maps - These are available from the Tourist Information Centre, situated on the main street namely Castle Street. Various Internet sites have maps which can be printed out also.

N.B. Throughout this guide, directions for the walk are provided in regular text. Historical information on the various attractions is provided in italics.

The Walk

After parking, proceed out of the car park onto Market Street. Cross over the road and turn down East St. Continue down the street, turning right onto Parade St., and then almost immediately left down the narrow street alongside a circular building to reach the Cornmill.

This licensed restaurant opened in 2000, is situated on the site of the oldest mill in Llangollen. Corn was produced here for around 600 years until 1895. The use changed a few times before becoming a restaurant. The waterwheel still turns today.

From the riverside balcony, spectacular views can be admired whilst enjoying a nice cool glass of beer, or wine if you prefer. The menu is extensive and a lunch or evening meal is recommended. The stretch of white water is very popular with canoeists who can often be seen racing past.

The original mill producing corn was built by the monks of Valle Crucis Abbey. The Abbey is situated one and a half miles North of the town and is well worth a visit.

The Llangollen Railway

The Llangollen Railway can be seen across the river from the Cornmill. The sound of a steam train gently puffing its way up the valley is heard periodically. A journey by steam or diesel provides wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. It is worth alighting at Berwyn station and walking back to the town along the canal towpath. For children, special trains such as 'Thomas the Tank Engine' run on certain days. 'Santa Specials' run near Christmas.

The Llangollen railway runs for nearly eight miles from the town to Carrog. The journey takes around thirty minutes. The original railway opened in 1862 and travelled from Ruabon to Barmouth. Trains stopped running in 1968 due to cuts. By October 1985 the first train was running again with the help of volunteers, and the line was extended further and further up the valley as far as Carrog.

The Victoria Promenade, town park and Llangollen Bridge

Feeling refreshed, turn right out of the Cornmill along the pavement towards the town park.

The Victoria Promenade was opened in 1899 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The Promenade is situated alongside the picturesque River Dee. There are fine views of mountains upstream and the town in the opposite direction. There is a very attractive children's play area towards the end of the park. The rocks at the edge of the river are very crowded in the hot summer months with people lazing in the sunshine or paddling to cool off. Care is required as the current is very strong. There are fine views of the castle to your right and Barber's Hill ahead.

After strolling around the park, retrace your steps until you reach the Cornmill, and then continue along the pavement until you arrive at the bridge. There are excellent views from both sides of this historic old bridge, but looking upstream is probably the best.

The bridge is one of the 'Severn Wonders of Wales'. A wooden construction existed here very early on. The first stone bridge was built in 1345 by John Trevor, the Bishop of St. Asaph. There have been a lot of changes over the years. The construction was widened in 1873 due to the increased traffic resulting from the Industrial Revolution and again in 1968. A square arch was added to accommodate the railway line in 1863.

St. Collen's Parish Church

Cross the road carefully and admire the views from this side of the bridge. Continue past the large white building on your right, (the Royal Hotel) turning left up Bridge Street and then Church Street. St Collen's Church is on your right. Stop to admire the fine views of the Castle, river and town on your left. The church yard is worth a quick visit before making your way to Plas Newydd, the former home of the 'Ladies of Llangollen'. These two ladies are buried in the church yard along with their maid Mary Carryll. You will find the tomb to the right of the main church door. This monument is easy to spot as there are railings around it.

The tomb is constructed of white marble with an inscription relating to each person on different sides. The poet, Robert Browning is also buried in the church yard. You may want to explore the interior of the church - viewing is by arrangement. Llangollen is named after St. Collen who founded the church in the 7th century. The earliest stone church was built in the 13th century. A wooden tower was added around 1500 and was replaced by the existing stone structure in 1749. The church was extended in 1863 with the addition of the south aisle. The carved oak ceiling is a beautiful feature along with many stained glass windows. One commemorates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

When you are ready, exit via the way you came in. Stop a moment to look at the view across the river. To continue the tour to Plas Newydd, turn right and continue to the end of Church Street. Cross the main road, Regent St. carefully and make your way up the narrow street opposite which leads onto Butler's Hill. Continue for a short way until you reach the shaded entrance to the grounds of Plas Newydd.

Plas Newydd

Plas Newydd is a perfect restful place to end the walk.

This was the former home from 1780 to 1829, of two women known as 'The Ladies of Llangollen'. The fascinating story of how Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby escaped from Ireland to build a new life is illustrated in the house.

The view of the house beneath the back-drop of the castle is wonderful, especially if you are lucky enough to catch the sun setting. There is also a lovely walk through the shady glen where the ladies used to enjoy many an evening stroll.

The peaceful grounds are free and are open in the evening. There is a charge however to enter the house, which is open April - October, 10am - 5pm, Wednesday - Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays. Many personal effects can be seen such as pictures, clothes, furniture along with some of the gothic features they introduced. These include many original wood carvings. An audio tour which takes the visitor through the history of the house and their romantic friendship is well worth listening to.

A lot of carvings were presents from visitors and came from old chests, beds and cupboards in houses and churches. The porch is made up of two wooden bedposts with carvings of lions which were presents from the Duke of Wellington. You can see examples of other carvings on doors, fireplaces and around the walls and stairs. The ladies named the cottage Plas Newydd which means New Hall in English. They led a busy social life often visiting local gentry. Famous people came to visit them also. Some of these people were the Duke of Wellington who was a famous naval officer and Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth who were famous writers. Members of the Royal family at that time also visited.

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