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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Trevor/Froncysyllte, Denbighshire

Location Guide

"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.

The 18 or 19 dressed stone piers are hollow, the mortar used included lime, water and Ox blood. There is discrepancies in reports as to how many piers there are, Wikipedia says 19, the local council 18, and Waterscape says there are 19 arches for example, and I did not count them on my visit.  The trough is constructed from castings that dovetail together, in the joints they put flannel material dipped in boiling sugar and then sealed it with lead. A plug in the centre allows water to be drained into the River Dee below, for maintenance to be performed, the water goes down and through a 9ft wide channel and comes out of the canal side and takes about an hour to empty. The BBC has an article in it being emptied in 1998, they say that 1.5 million litres of water came out, enough to fill 8,000 baths.                                        See Larger Image

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,
it's shear drop the other side of the boats.

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.

Click this button for an extensive gallery on this structure and the surrounding countryside.

Location: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, nr Llangollen, Denbighshire

Grid Reference:  SJ270420 Ceremonial County: Denbighshire

Map Link: Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap you can't see the aqueduct very well, but its shadow is clear.

Getting there: It can be accessed from either end - at Trefor (off the A539) or at Froncysyllte (off the A5(T)). Car parking is available at both ends of the Aqueduct.

Website: Waterscape     Time Line
Other Useful Websites: Wikipedia     Geograph
Email: Enquries.ebc@britishwaterways.co.uk

Address: Situated: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Trefor, nr Llangollen, Denbighshire

Contact: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, c/o British Waterways, Navigation Road, Llangollen

Postcode: CW8 1BH Telephone: 01606 723800
Opening Times: Open all the time

Charges: FREE on acquduct, but charge for car parking in nearby car park

Nearby Locations: Horseshoe Falls,  Chirk Tunnel
Other Location Pages: Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Gallery
Other Relevant Pages:  Canals              Canals for photographers  

Major Canals and Waterways           Major Canal Features  

Canal Tunnels                             Lock Flights and Staircases  

Canals in Wales                          Non Navigable and Lost Canals  

Further information - canals             World Heritage Sites     

World Heritage Sites - Further Information      World Heritage Sites in the UK

Notes: Boats can be hired to ride across, see above.

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park Section: Canal and Waterway Section Key:
Page Ref: Pontcysyllte_Aqueduct Topic: Canals & Waterways  Last Updated: 05/2009


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