The Llangollen Canal offers an alluring combination of tranquillity and superb Welsh scenery. In 2009, an eleven-mile stretch of it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the two-hundred-year-old Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the canal high over the River Dee.
Over a thousand feet long and a dizzying 126 feet high, this is the tallest navigable aqueduct in the world. Those with a strong head for heights can walk across it – the footpath, protected on one side by a metal railing, is just about wide enough for a wheelchair, but note that there’s no barrier between the path and the narrow canal trough running alongside it. A less daunting prospect is to take a boat across the aqueduct: the Vale of Llangollen Canal Boat Trust runs trips for disabled visitors in a specially adapted narrowboat with a hydraulic wheelchair lift, a disabled toilet, low windows providing exhilarating views, and space for twelve passengers and up to six wheelchairs.
Half-day trips follow the canal to Llangollen Wharf, five miles west, while full-day trips go all the way into the English county of Shropshire. All boats depart from Trevor Basin, adjacent to the aqueduct; there’s a drop-off point near the mooring, and a small car park about twenty yards away (with a RADAR key-accessible toilet). You book the whole boat for your party, and should arrange it well in advance; a donation of at least £75 is requested for a full-day trip, and around £50 for a half-day trip.
Over at Llangollen Wharf, the Horse Drawn Boat Centre offers delightful 45-minute narrowboat trips, pulled by a horse plodding gently along the towpath. It’s a supremely leisurely affair, without even the sound of an engine to disturb the peace. The boats have ramped access for wheelchair users, who can sit in the open air or under cover – book ahead to be sure of a space. There’s no parking at the wharf, but visitors with restricted mobility can be set down at a drop-off point while a companion parks elsewhere: staff will advise you of the nearest parking spots. There’s a small disabled toilet at the wharf.
Food & drink: At Trevor Basin, the wheelchair accessible Telford Arms serves decent food on the opposite side of the canal from the boat moorings – the Canal Boat Trust can drop you off on that side after your trip. Over in Llangollen Wharf, there’s a tearoom near the horse-drawn boat ticket office, with ramped access and a tempting array of home made scones, cakes, soups and light meals.