Historic landmark walk: Llangollen and Dee Valley

The stunning 6 mile Llangollen History Trail starts in Llangollen, visiting several historic landmarks such as Horseshoe Falls. Some sections can be challenging with stiles, kissing gates and steep stairs.

  • Llangollen
    Llangollen, North East Wales

    Renowned for the surrounding hills and the River Dee, Llangollen has something for every visitor with its independent shops and places to eat, drink and stay to suit every budget. You can take a stroll along the Victoria Promenade to the Riverside Park for a picnic or watch the river tumble down beneath the bridge. This is a great base to explore the area and the Llangollen History Trail is one of the best ways to do it.

  • The Horseshoe Falls, designed by Thomas Telford, part of Llangollen Canal
    Horseshoe Falls, Llangollen Canal, North Wales Borderlands by Desmo Dave

    The Horseshoe Falls is a picturesque semi-circular weir designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford in 1806 to supply water to the Shropshire Union Canal. However, the canal took so much water from the river Dee that many of the local mills were forced out of business. This is a lovely spot to stop for a picnic or a visit to a pub. The Sun Inn at Trevor is a fine example of what Denbighshire has to offer.

  • Llantysilio Church and churchyard in Llangollen
    Llantysilio Church, North Wales Borderlands by National Resource Wales

    Llantysilio Church occupies high ground just north of the Horseshoe Falls. Originally a small chapel built around 1254, the church was restored by the Victorians in 1869. Inside are a rare medieval oak eagle lectern and two small 15th-century stained glass figures incorporated into the later north window. 

  • Lush and green foliage on the banks of the River Dee near Llangollen
    River Dee near Llangollen, North Wales Borderlands

    The River Dee has been important for centuries, with many myths and legends entwined in its past. The Dee is internationally important due to species such as Atlantic salmon and freshwater pearl mussel. Not surprisingly, the valley through which this river runs forms part of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

  • Horse drawn canal boat on Llangollen Canal
    Llangollen Canal, Borderlands by DianeB1960

    The Llangollen Canal opened in 1805 to carry slate from nearby quarries to the growing cities of England. Although with the coming of the railways, the canal companies soon faced bankruptcy. The Llangollen Wharf pleasure boat company was founded in 1884, and visitors can still enjoy one of the most laid back forms of transport in the form of horse-drawn boats.

  • Valle Crucis Abbey with autumn trees in the background
    Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen, Borderlands

    Valle Crucis Abbey was once the second richest abbey in Wales, after Tintern. Founded by Cistercian monks in 1201, the abbey was lived in until the Dissolution of the monastery in 1537. Look across at Velvet Hill whose Welsh name, Coed Hyrddyn, means ‘wood of the long man’ which may relate to the tall skeleton unearthed beneath the 9th Century Eliseg’s Pillar nearby.

  • Dinas Bran Castle on top of a hill
    Dinas Bran Castle, North Wales Borderlands by David Knight

    Built in the 1260s by a local Welsh ruler, Prince Gruffudd ap Madoc, to guard the strategic route through the Dee valley, Dinas Bran Castle appears as an impressive landmark throughout this route. Although little remains of this once great castle, it is well worth the steep climb for the spectacular views over Llangollen and the surrounding countryside below.

  • Eglwyseg Escarpment

    Eglwyseg Escarpment in the Dee Valley, North Wales
    Eglwyseg Escarpment, North Wales Borderlands by National Resource Wales

    You can lengthen your walk to take in the impressive limestone Eglwyseg Escarpment, visible as a white scar on the landscape for much of the route. It was formed some 350 million years ago in a warm, shallow tropical sea teeming with life which you can now see as fossils. The screes have accumulated since the end of the last Ice Age, some 11,000 years ago, as millions of angular pieces of rock have been dislodged by frost. 

  • Offa's Dyke footpath in the Clwydian Range of hills in North Wales.

    Clwydian Range, North East Wales

     by Paul Thickitt

    If you want to lengthen your walk, you can join the dyke built by Offa, King of Mercia between 757 and 796 AD which formed the boundary between England & Wales, running 182 miles from Prestatyn in the north to Sedbury, near Chepstow in the south.

    You can link to Offa’s Dyke at several points so why not check out some of the routes on the Offa’s Dyke and Denbighshire websites and the Natural Resources Wales interactive map Outdoor Wales onLine.

You can download this route via the ViewRanger app.

Find out about appropriate clothing and footwear as well as more info on protecting and enjoying the countryside in the Countryside Code.