Picturesque Llangollen is a small town in Denbighshire, north-east Wales in the United Kingdom. Set on the banks of the River Dee and surrounded by rolling hills and green verdant countryside the town is packed to the rafters with charm and beauty. Steeped in rich history, picturesque Llangollen (pronounced khlan-goth-len) has an industrial legacy and is home to an International Music Festival, Independent Arts Festival, tree-lined canal and a wealth of independent shops. Add in scenic walks, culture, fun packed outdoor pursuits, a medieval castle and preserved standard gauge steam railway and you can understand why this quaint town is so popular.
Visiting picturesque Llangollen, a gem of a town, will reveal a wealth of fascinating and memorable sights which can easily be fitted within a days itinerary. Armed with a good schedule you will learn about the town’s history, visit its popular attractions, enjoy some sublime scenery and polish the day off with dinner overlooking the river.
PICTURESQUE LLANGOLLEN IN A DAY
STARTING POINT – MILL STREET LONG STAY CAR PARK
Take the path from the carpark that follows the river and walk through Riverside Gardens. If you walk down to the waters edge you should get your first glimpse of the bridge peeping through the trees. Walk up the steps leading to Mill Street and turn left towards the town centre. Take time to view the bridge arches before crossing the bridge into Castle Street. Do not worry about missing the view from the right hand side of the bridge as you will be seeing this later in the walk.
This iconic bridge crossing the River Dee is both grade I listed and a scheduled ancient monument.
Originally built in the reign of King Henry I, the bridge has undergone many changes to its structure including widening and lengthening, allowing easier passage of vehicles. An extra arch was added in the 1860’s at the north end to carry the road over the new railway.
A defining feature is the large v-shaped stonework, diverting the river around the bridge piers and providing extensions of the pavement from which the arches can be viewed.
Until the 1950’s it was common to witness salmon fishing in the river but this sight has been replaced with kayakers, canoeists and rafters due to the waters being a favourite spot for outdoor and water pursuits. The bridge provides a magnificent vantage point for the River Dee and its rushing waters.
After crossing the bridge turn immediately left into Bridge Street, stopping to view the war memorials.
Bridge Street has a couple of antique shops to browse through as you continue up to Church Street, where you will take a slight detour at the oldest established institution in Llangollen, St.Collen’s Church. Enter the churchyard through the iron gates.
Founded in the sixth century by Saint Collen, a monk who arrived in the area by coracle, and whom the town is named after, the church has undergone drastic Victorian alterations over the years. The main body of the present church is 13th century and as you enter through the porch, it soon becomes apparent that there are many features to admire. When I visited, I was extremely lucky to sit and listen to a group of singers practising for their performance at the forthcoming International Musical Eisteddfod and the sound was alluring.
Be sure to look at the stained glass windows and the intricately carved oak ceiling which is exquisite and was installed in 1450 under close scrutiny of the Abbot of Valle Crucis Abbey. Sit and just relax in the peaceful and serene atmosphere.
Return through the iron gates and turn right to continue your walk along Church Street with its many pretty houses and an alternative view of St.Collen’s Church.
At the end of Church Street, cross the A5 and slightly to the left is an alleyway, Butler’s Hill which gently winds its way up to your next stop, Plas Newydd. Take a backward view on your way up for views over the beautiful countryside. The entrance driveway to Plas Newydd is on your left.
From 1780 to 1829 this simple cottage became the home to Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby who were known locally as ‘The Ladies of Llangollen’.
Running away from their regimented lives back in Ireland, they started a new life here in Wales. Changes were made to the property over the years transforming it into a Gothic fantasy with oak carvings and stained glass. Capturing the attention at the time of Regency Society ensured a steady stream of visitors including Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott and The Duke of Wellington.
A visit inside the house rewards you with an audio tour depicting their intriguing story, while exhibits help bring their home to life.
Outside you can stroll around the beautifully manicured gardens and take in the stunning background view of the castle on a nearby mountain.
If you fancy taking time for elevenses, visit the tea rooms for coffee and homemade cake. When ready, walk back down the driveway and walk back to the town centre along Hill Street. Cross the A5 and proceed down Castle Street, the main thoroughfare of the town and home to craft shops, cafes and independent shops, so have a browse.
This beautiful Romanesque styled building with its three arches on pilasters beneath the pediment dates back to the 1860’s and was originally designed as a chapel. Intended to hold a congregation of 400 welsh baptists, it had served its purpose by 1982 due to dwindling numbers of worshipers.
Today it stands proudly restored as a striking force in Castle Street, serving residents and visitors as a library upstairs and a tourist information office on the ground floor.
Contemporary arts and crafts, many of which are by emerging Welsh Artists are housed in a separate gallery and worth checking out.
Walk along Parade Street before turning right down Dee Lane. There is a lovely delicatessen on the left hand side called Porters which sells yummy welsh cheese, honey and preserves. Follow Dee Lane before turning left and joining the footpath along Victoria Promenade for a scenic riverside detour to Riverside Park.
Commemorating Queen Victoria’s visit to Llangollen in 1889, Victoria Promenade was renamed Victoria Path. Today the park is a garden for everyone to enjoy and has a bandstand, playground, picnic area and skating park and is a tranquil space with the added bonus of fantastic riverside views.
Loop back along the footpath to Dee Lane where you will find a pub with a view, the Corn Mill.
For fantastic views while you are enjoying great food you can’t beat the location of this former mill. This was a working mill until 1974 but was then left to deteriorate before being leased to a pub company who fully restored the building including the water wheel which can be viewed behind the bar. Inside there are numerous nooks and crannies to find your perfect seat to enjoy the food being served. The mill was originally built by the Cistercians of nearby Valle Crucis Abbey back in the 13th century.
Continue to walk up Dee Lane then turn left onto Parade Street were you will locate the museum on the left hand side.
Discover the story of Llangollen from the Stone Age through to present day in this rather unflattering looking mid-20th century, polygonal building. Packed with a wealth of information including photographs, artifacts, documents and exhibitions, learn about all aspects of Llangollen history including myths and legends.
A centerpiece inside the building is a full-size replica of Eliseg’s Pillar with legible inscription unlike the original near Valle Crucis Abbey.
At the end of Parade Street turn left into Castle Street and walk over the bridge admiring the scenic views.
From this side of the bridge you have a birds eye view of the railway station.
Walk down the slip road to have a closer look at this iconic site.
Llangollen Railway is the only standard gauge railway in North Wales and runs alongside the scenic River Dee for its entire length. In its heyday the train transported holiday makers to the seaside from Ruabon to Barmouth.
The relaxing 10 mile journey in a 1950’s steam engine, passes through magnificent natural vistas on its journey to Corwen and is an ideal way to sample the days of yesteryear.
Visit the quaint tearooms and gift shop and pick up details of the special services run on selected days throughout the year.
Turn left onto Abbey Road and follow the pavement to the carpark on the opposite side of the road.
Built in 1992, the International Pavilion is home to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, welcoming 120,000 musicians and visitors every July when the town welcomes the world and gets caught up in the colour and excitement. A year-round programme of events and concerts are hosted including the Llangollen Food Festival.
At the western end of the carpark, join the canal towpath beside the bridge and turn right.
Walking along the towpath is quiet and peaceful and you will see canal boats moored up and ducks swimming along in the steady water or sitting on the bank sunning themselves. It is particularly atmospheric when the sun shines as the light produces shadows in the water of the trees from the opposite bank which is particularly alluring.
In 2009, 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal, including the Horseshoe Falls and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From the Wharf you can embark on a 45 minute return horse drawn trip along the main canal to give you a taster of the slow pace of canal life.
(If you have more than one day to spend in Llangollen then you may like to take the 2 hour trip through the Vale of Llangollen on a traditional canal boat and cruise over Pontcysyllte Aqueduct).
If you havn’t already stopped along Castle Street for some lunch there is a tea room serving food here at the Wharf.
Bear right after the tea room and join Wharf Hill at the bridge. Turn left and follow the signs to Castell Dinas Bran and climb steadily uphill for about 0.9 miles until you reach a stile and the start of the climb to the castle.
CASTELL DINAS BRAN
Translated as Castle of the City of Crows, the weather beaten ruins were once a medieval fortress back in the 13th century, built for the Prince of Powys Fadog.
In its heyday there was a gatehouse, hall, keep, D-shaped tower and large central courtyard however after only a couple of decades it had been destroyed and abandoned.
A steep path zig zags up the slope of the conical shaped hill to the summit plateau and once you reach the castle ruins your efforts will be justly rewarded, so be prepared to be rendered speechless as the 360 degree panorama across the Shropshire Plains, LLangollen and Snowdonia is stunning and exquisite.
Take a well earned breather, wander around and sit and take time to admire the fantastic views before making your way back down to the town centre.
Finish off your day in picturesque Llangollen by enjoying dinner at the Corn Mill before heading back to Mill Street Car Park.
- Mill Street Car Park costs £3.50 for all day. Check details here.
- Read the history of St.Collen’s Parish Church.
- For opening times and admission costs of Plas Newydd check the official website.
- Check the Corn Mill website for opening hours and sample menus.
- Llangollen Museum opening times here.
- Information for Llangollen Railway can be checked on the official website.
- Forthcoming events at Llangollen Pavilion.
- Details for boat trips can be found from Llangollen Wharf.
Llangollen is a picturesque town that makes the most of its riverside setting and offers visitors a wealth of attractions, walks, eateries, history, relaxation, scenery and history, making it a great place to visit in Wales.
Have you visited this picturesque Welsh Town yet?
PIN TO SHARE OR READ LATER :