The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the Vale of Llangollen, North East Wales is the highest canal aqueduct in the world.
The visit is veiled by a blinkered journey from the car park through trees and over bridges. It’s an idyllic scene, but there’s jeopardy waiting around the corner. The transition from dreamy canal boats to the gargantuan spectacle of a water-bridge striding a deep cut in the Dee valley is almost too much to take.
Pontcysyllte is phonetically pronounced ‘Pont – kus – sulth – teh’, and translates to ‘the bridge that connects.’ It’s a marvel of engineering that makes me feel queasy on several levels. The structure sits upon piers that gracefully taper to meet the waterway. Most incumbents of the canal boats that cross the aqueduct are unaware that the piers are hollow, or that they were mortared with lime mixed with ox blood.
The aqueduct is best viewed from the valley bottom which is ten minutes walk down the steep sided valley. There’s a wonderful array of water based activities on offer, and there’s a cafe, tea-rooms and a pub.