PONTCYSYLLTE AQUEDUCT AND RETURN FROM BLACKWATER
You can do this route from :
This very beautiful canal is one of the most popular Waterways in Europe, and includes the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which is one of the most spectacular and amazing feats of engineering on the Canal system. Visitors flock from all four corners of the globe to see this canal crossing.
Built by Thomas Telford in 1805, the Aqueduct is 126 feet high, and spans over 1000 feet across a valley with the River Dee thundering away in the distance below your feet.
As you cross into Wales you cross the Chirk Aqueduct which is 70 feet high and was built between 1796 and 1801 by Thomas Telford & William Jessop, it is a practise run before you get to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, but it is very beautiful in itself, and crosses over the River Ceiriog.
Once over the aqueduct and through the Tunnel you pass the areas main visitor attraction - Chirk castle (NT), a magnificent 700 year old fortress built by Edward the First, just a 15 minute walk from the Canal. The kids will love the Dungeons!!
Read our cruising notes to help you plan your canal boat holidayRead our cruising notes.
Turn right out of the marina and pass the Ellesmere branch, take the left fork.
This part of the Canal is very rural, and all you will see is fields full of cows and sheep.
You will presently pass the junction with the Montgomery Canal on your left, 7 miles of this is navigable, up to Maesbury, and if you want to cruise along here you have to book with the Lock keeper the day before. (Ask at Blackwater reception before you leave).
From this junction onwards towards Llangollen, the bridges start being numbered from No 1, so you can easily count your progress, and how successful you have been in navigating under the bridges without touching the sides!!
If you want to stop off there is a pub coming up after a tricky bridge (No 4)- the Narrow Boat Inn, just before the Maestermyn Marina at Whittington.
If you have made good headway, you may want to spend your 1st Night here.
Alternatively there is another lovely canalside pub at bridge 11, the Jack Mytton Inn, Hindford, both serve good food & beer.
It is 2.5 hours cruise from Blackwater to Hindford .
The next day head towards Chirk.
Shortly after bridge 11, you will come to your only locks on this part of the Canal. There are 2 locks quite close to each other.
If a boat has just come through, past you, you are in luck, as the lock is with you, and you can open the gates and go straight in.
Get your crew out just before the lock, and make sure they have the windlass to operate the lock gates, as you were shown in the training.
After the 2nd lock on the right hand side, you can moor up and fill up with water if needed ( you will need the british waterways key that is on your bunch of keys). Water points are marked on your map along the canal.
A bit further on, after bridge 15, there are some very posh moorings outside the Lion Keys Pub & restaurant, just before you go under the A5 road. There are 20 moorings for customers.
You will start to see less cows & sheep & see more houses now, as you are approaching the town of Chirk.
At bridge 21 you can moor up and walk to the bridge Inn, the last pub in England, before you cross the Chirk Aqueduct into Wales. Make sure there is no-one coming over the aqueduct.
The Aqueduct is 70 feet high and was built between 1796 and 1801 by Thomas Telford & William Jessop, it is a practise run before you get to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, but it is very beautiful in itself, and crosses over the River Ceiriog.
It is not as frightening as you would think, with spectacular views of the River cascading down the valley below, and the Chirk Viaduct above you.
You cannot go very fast across the Aqueduct, so just enjoy the view, as very soon you come to the end, and the beginning of the Chirk Tunnel, which at over 400 metres is one of the longest tunnels on the waterways system to have a towpath running through it.
After you have emerged from the tunnel you might want to moor up & take a look at Chirk, or get some supplies.
The areas main visitor attraction is Chirk castle (NT), a magnificent 700 year old fortress built by Edward the 1.
As you pass Chirk marina on your left there is a Golf Course and driving range.
Once the canal turns away from the railway you will find the Offas Dyke path following the Canal.
There is a very quaint lift bridge to negotiate at Froncysylite, you will have to lift it up using your windlass key.
If you want to build up your nerve before crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, you can stop at Froncysyllte , there are 2 pubs, the britannia Inn and the Aqueduct Inn.
You might have to queue for the Aqueduct , you will need a runner to go ahead & see if any boats are coming over towards you, if not you can go for it.
They sometimes have british waterways staff here who will try & organise who can go first!!
The views are breathtaking, but so is the fact that you have nothing but fresh air for 130 feet below you on your left. There is a walkway on your right.
The River Dee thunders away far beneath you.
You immediately come into Trevor Wharf,
It is 4 hours to here from Hindford, and if it is a bit congested it will be easier to turn your boat here & go back over the aqueduct and moor the other side for the night.
You now start cruising east back the way you came to Ellesmere.
It is 6.5 hours cruising back to Ellesmere, if you have time, sample one of Ellesmere's delightful pubs or restaurants for the evening. Ellesmere is a busy 18th century market town.
NB: This route has been provided as a guide only. Information may become inaccurate or out of date. You should always check with the marina that the route is possible within your time frame, current weather conditions and canal stoppages etc.
Maps and Guides
Pubs available on this canal route:-
|Distance from Blackwater
|The Bridge Inn
|Chirk Bank, Chirk LL14 5BU
|The Jack Mytton Inn
|Hindford, Whittington, Oswestry SY11 4NL
|The Lion Quays
|Weston Rhyn, Oswestry, Shrops SY11 3EN
|The Red Lion
|18 Church Street, Ellesmere SY12 0HD
|The Aqueduct Inn
|Hoyhead Road, Froncysyiite LL20 7PY
NB: Distances are as the crow flies and will vary for actual canal boating travel distance.