Starting in Llangollen, this 6 mile / 9.5km walk meanders through the beautiful countryside, taking you up high above the town for brilliant views across the Dee Valley. The route follows the Llangollen Canal and the River Dee towards Berwyn, then past the Horseshoe Falls to Llantysilio Church. Then it's uphill to Valle Crucis Abbey and across to Castell Dinas Brân before heading back down to Llangollen. Some of the walk is challenging with steep paths and stiles, so please take care.

Link to a map of the walk

Llangollen town

Renowned for the surrounding hills and the River Dee, Llangollen has a variety of things to do and events. The town is probably most well-known for the colourful Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod held every July, and the brilliant Llangollen Food Festival in October.

stone bridge with flowers in foreground and town in background.
review of town from elevated position, with countryside in background.

Llangollen bridge and the town centre, Denbighshire, North Wales

Attractions in the town include the heritage Llangollen Railway, the Llangollen Canal, the Llangollen Motor Museum and Plas Newydd, an historic house lived in by the Ladies of Llangollen.

wooden sign with train and words Llangollen Heritage Railway.
railway station in distance with tracks and signal in foreground.

Llangollen Railway, North Wales

Steaming through the beautiful Dee Valley

Llangollen Railway

Castell Dolbadarn,

Llangollen Motor Museum

Castell Dolbadarn,

Plas Newydd

Castell Dolbadarn,

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.

stone bridge with river below.
A pub with outside decking overlooking a wide, shallow river.

The River Dee in Llangollen, North Wales

The Llangollen Canal

The Llangollen Canal meanders towards the English border through peaceful countryside and over impressive aqueducts. Opened in 1805 to carry slate from nearby quarries to the growing cities of England, with the coming of the railways the canal companies soon faced bankruptcy. The solution was tourism and the Llangollen Wharf Pleasure Boat Company was founded in 1884. Visitors can still enjoy one of the most laid back forms of transport in the form of a Horse-Drawn Boat trip over Thomas Telford's famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, one of Wales' UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Nicky Lincoln steering a horse drawn canal boat.
woman on boat on aqueduct, with views of water and countryside.
Image of the aqueduct and trees and river below

Llangollen canal trips and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, North Wales

The River Dee

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. Watch out for the whitewater rafters and kayakers running the rapids.

A chain bridge over a wide river.
River Dee, Denbighshire

The Chain Bridge and whitewater rafting on the River Dee, North Wales

The Horseshoe Falls

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. Apparently, 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 check out the menu at the Chain Bridge Hotel and sit outside overlooking the River Dee and Berwyn railway station.

A curved weir waterfall on a river.

Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee, North Wales

Llantysilio Church

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. 

church with grave yard.

Llantysilio Church, near Llangollen, North Wales

Valle Crucis Abbey

Now mostly in ruins, 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. Check out the pond - it's the only remaining monastic fishpond in Wales. Opposite is Velvet Hill, whose Welsh name, Coed Hyrddyn, means ‘wood of the long man’ which may relate to the tall skeleton unearthed beneath the nearby 9th Century Eliseg’s Pillar.

A semi-ruined abbey from above.
A ruined abbey reflected in a pond.

The romantic ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen, North Wales

Castell Dinas Brân

Built in the 1260s by a local Welsh ruler, Prince Gruffudd ap Madoc, to guard the strategic route through the Dee Valley, Castell Dinas Brân 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.

Castell Dinas Brân, Bryniau Clwyd
Ancient stone ruins of Castell Dinas Bran framed by a gloomy sky.

Castell Dinas Brân, Llangollen, North Wales

Eglwyseg Escarpment

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. The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust website has a circular walk you can download as a .pdf.

two rocky hills in background with field in foreground.
limestone escarpment.
limestone escarpment.

Eglwyseg Escarpment, Llangollen, North Wales

Offa’s Dyke

If you want to lengthen your walk, you can join the Offa's Dyke Path National Trail. Offa's Dyke was built by the King of Mercia between 757 and 796 AD to form the boundary between England and Wales. It runs 182 miles from Prestatyn in the north to Sedbury, near Chepstow in the south.

There are many places along Offa's Dyke Path which are classed as strenuous walks. Please take care, remember to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and follow the Countryside CodeAdventure Smart UK has plenty of advice on how to ‘make a good day better’, and we recommend you read it before planning your walking adventures. 

Related stories