On of the gateways to North Wales, this delightful town has much to offer
Despite its small size, Llangollen has lots to say for itself. The surrounding hills and River Dee lend it ample charm, and the many Arthurian myths and legends that swirl around the community give the Denbighshire town an aura of mystique.
Being in an agricultural area, farming has been an important part of life in Llangollen for centuries, with shepherding dominating the hills around the town, and the spinning and weaving of wool providing employment for many. Wool and cotton factories were established along the banks of the river, whilst a 600-year-old water mill – which can be found opposite the railway station – was used to grind our for the local farmers.
Here’s 10 great things about the town to help you make a day of it:
1. THE INTERNATIONAL EISTEDDFOD
World famous and rightly so, the annual festival of music, song and dance takes place each July and is headlined by some of the most famous names in the music industry .
Tel: 01978 862000. www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
2. THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN
The Ladies of Llangollen were a pair of upper-crust Irish women named Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby. The two women decided to avoid being forced into marriages and instead elected to live an idyllic rural life together here in Llangollen, much to the fascination of the rest of the community. Their story has been immortalised in print and lm, and their home, Plas Newydd, is now run as a museum which will reopen in April. Plas Newydd, Hill Street, Llangollen LL20 8AW.
Tel: 01978 862834. Click here for official website
3. THE RAILWAY
Llangollen Railway is the only standard gauge heritage railway to be found in North Wales. The line itself follows the River Dee, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It certainly passes through some lovely parts of North Wales and train buffs will be keen to note that the railway boasts steam-hauled trains, diesel locomotives and heritage railcar services.
Llangollen Railway, The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen, LL20 8SN. Tel: 01978 860979. www.llangollen-railway.co.uk
4. LLANGOLLEN WHARF
Visitors have the option of enjoying a traditional horse-drawn boat trip along the feeder for the main canal, or stepping aboard a motorised aqueduct boat and setting o across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which was built by Thomas Telford, and provides impressive vistas. Whichever you opt for, a day on the water here is always a real treat.
Llangollen Wharf, Wharf Hill, Llangollen, LL20 8TA. Tel: 01978 860702. www.horsedrawnboats.co.uk
5. HISTORIC SIGHTS
There’s plenty in the way of history in Llangollen, including the remains of some very interesting sites from long ago. Castell Dinas Bran, for example, is a medieval castle perched atop a hill. Those keen to stretch their legs, could comfortably walk to the landmark from the town which it overlooks. Alternatively, you can visit Valle Crucis Abbey, a Cistercian abbey in nearby Llantysilio just outside the town.
6. VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
The Grade I-listed Dee Bridge was originally built in 1345 by Bishop Trevor of Trevor Hall. It was widened during the 60s, enabling traffic to properly pass over it. Check out the photo opportunities from the Dee Bridge, with the water rushing beneath it, the town all around it, and the magnificent backdrop of the Denbighshire hills and mountains.
7. MOTOR MUSEUM
Whether you’re a bit of a petrol head, love a dose of nostalgia, or have youngsters in tow to entertain, you won’t want to miss out on a visit to Llangollen Motor Museum. There are more than 60 vehicles to peruse, including historic cars, invalid carriages, pedal cars and motor bikes – Austins, Citroens, a Ford Model T and a Vauxhall 14/40 feature.
Llangollen Motor Museum, Pentrefelin Mill, Pentrefelin, Llangollen LL20 8EE. Tel: 01978 860324. www.llangollenmotormuseum.co.uk
8. INDEPENDENT SHOPPING
There are lots of opportunities to splash some cash here in Llangollen, regardless of whether you’re on the lookout for a lovespoon or some local cheeses. The Welsh Lovespoon Centre (tel: 01978 860187; lovespooncentre.co.uk) is a pretty good place to start your search for souvenirs, with a plethora of different designs available, which they’ll happily personalise for you.
There are more gifts to look over at the family run Shop In The Clouds (tel: 01978 790445; shopintheclouds.com) who offer Welsh gifts, baby and children’s clothes and even rugby shirts. For more clothes, pay a visit to Harley’s Vintage Boutique (tel: 01978 869282). This is a treasure trove in which you’ll find an eclectic range of unique pieces for all manner of occasions.
Chapel Emporium (tel: 077762 319667) is a wonderful place for a browse. There are 10 stall-holders here, selling furniture, antiques, ornaments and crafts. If it’s jewellery you’re after though, don’t miss Oak Chest Jewellers (tel: 01978 860095; oakchestjewellers.co.uk) who offer jewellery making, design and repair services, as well as stocking Marcasite jewellery, watches and Welsh gold.
Art lovers should pop into Quirky Art Studio Gallery (tel: 07904 477416/07960 634930; quirkyartstudiogallery.co.uk), a collaboration between two local artists, that has some stunning pieces on display.
Those who like to add a bit of flavour to their shopping spree would do well to seek out Porter’s Delicatessen (pictured above, tel: 01978 862990; portersdeli.co.uk) where there’s a plethora of delicious gourmet produce, including cheeses, charcuterie and wines.
9. DINING OUT
Fouzi’s Café Bar Pizzeria (tel: 01978 861399; fouzis.com) offers fresh Italian pizza and pasta, with other international dishes on the menu as well. Another good option along the river is the Deeside Café Bistro (tel: 07466 699269; deesidebistro.co.uk) where there are drinks, light bites and main meals, which are locally sourced. There are light bites aplenty at Cottage Tearooms and Bistro (tel: 01978 860393; cottageteabistro.com) which has a menu packed full of homemade delights and cream teas.
The Corn Mill (tel: 01978 869555; www.brunningandprice.co.uk/cornmill) occupies a prime waterfront position on the river and has plenty of atmosphere inside. And there’s always a warm welcome at Buttered Crust (tel: 01978 860929; butteredcrust.co.uk). Here you’ll find everything from breakfast to afternoon tea, and it’s locally sourced and fair trade.
Another favourite is The Gallery Restaurant (tel: 01978 860076; thegalleryrestaurantllangollen.co.uk) where the menu is varied with some fantastic vegetarian options available.
10. PLACES TO STAY
Whether you’re after a room with a view, a central location, or something historic, you’ll find everything to meet your needs perfectly in Llangollen. Those who are travelling with their faithful hound, will find dog-friendly accommodation at The Chainbridge Hotel (tel: 01978 860215; chainbridgehotel.com), which dates back to 1828 and sits alongside the River Dee, with lovely views across the water. Another good option for those with a canine companion, is Bryn Howel Hotel (tel: 01978 860331; brynhowel.com). Many of the bedrooms here overlook the Dee Valley, and The Cedar Tree Restaurant, which is on site, is a particular highlight.
At the centre of town you’ll find The Hand Hotel (tel: 01978 860303; hand-hotel-llangollen.com). This 400-year-old property makes an ideal base from which to explore the area. Or, around a mile and a half outside town, there’s Abbey Grange Hotel (tel: 01978 860753; abbey-grange-hotel.co.uk) which is in eight acres of its own grounds and makes for an idyllic retreat.
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