Why go there?
Llangollen sits astride the River Dee, with rolling hills and mountains serving as an impressive backdrop. The town is internationally famous for its Eisteddfod, but there’s more to this place than a mere celebration of Welsh language and culture.
The valley enjoys a number of examples of man-made ingenuity, from the Iron Age hill fort at Caer Drewyn to Thomas Telford’s Pontcysllte Aqueduct, which sits 126 feet above the valley floor. But Llangollen itself is steeped in history too, from its medieval town bridge to the ruins of Dinas Bran Castle, which protectively guards the town from the hillside.
There’s a seven-mile steam railway for interested enthusiasts that plunges deeper into the valley, but nature lovers will want to get out and about along the Dee itself, to spot dippers, dunnocks and kingfishers, or head up into the Berwyn Mountains, whose moorland peaks are a rich haven for wildlife including the curlew and Merlin. Check out www.deevalleywalks.com for two specific walks that demonstrate the area’s stunning flora, fauna and views.
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Where to stay
Bryn Howel was originally built in Victorian times to be the country residence of James Coster Edwards, who owned quarries, brick and tile works in the local area. It was converted into a hotel over 40 years ago and has garnered some rave reviews. It’s situated three miles east of the town off the A539, with the canal running close by. Prices start from £59.95 per night for a single room, or £69.95 for a twin or double room, and includes breakfast – 36 rooms in total are available.
Where to eat
The Corn Mill – as its name suggests – is a converted 18th century mill, and the pub shows off its original features to best effect, particularly with the working water wheel that turns behind the bar. The Corn Mill has made the Good Pub Guide for the past six years running, and boasts a wide and varied menu to suit most palettes, with a three-course menu available for around £20-25 per head.
Tell us a local secret
According to her headstone in East Sussex, Mary Hughes was the inspiration behind the nursery rhyme “Mary had a little lamb”. She was born in Llangollen in 1841, the daughter of a sheep farmer, and legend has it that one of the lambs she helped to hand rear followed her to school, which inspired the author of the poem. Unfortunately, the truth doesn’t fit the legend – the poem was originally published in 1830.
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