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Bradshaw’s Guide


Pontycysylltau Aqueduct, Llangollen, Wales. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. Original: Library of Congress

Llangollen lies in the hollow of the Dee, called in Welsh Glyndwrdwy, i.e, valley of the Dyfyrdwy; and being the first glimpse of peculiar mountain scenery which the visitor comes upon, it is indebted to this as much as to its own character for the celebrity it enjoys. The population of the parish is 5,799, including some engaged in the flannel and woollen manufacture. Plâsnewydd, or New Hall, where the Maid of Llangollen, Lady E.Butler, and her friend (so graphically delineated by the late Charles Matthews), Miss Ponsonby, lived in happy retirement, remains in the same state as when occupied by them. The two former residents are buried in the old Gothic church, which is dedicated to Saint Collen, whose full name is Collen ap Gwynnawg ap Clyddwg ap Cowrda ap Caradoc Freichfas ap Lleyr Merion ap Einion Yrth ap Cunedda Wledig. What an affliction to have to invoke the saint by his full name, or to be christened after him! A Gothic Bridge in four arches is as old as the 14th century. The Vale is best seen in the evening light; but the Vale of the Cross at its upper end – which is generally confounded with it – and that of Llandysilio, on the Holyhead road, opposite the former, are both superior to Llangollen.—(Cliffe’s North Wales). It lies between hills in which limestone and coal and in other parts excellent slate, are quarried. What the latter article will bear may be seen from the slabs laid down opposite St. Mildred’s, in the Poultry, London; the grain is so firm, that though millions of feet have passed over that pavement, it is as smooth and sound as ever.

Opposite the bridge the hills rise upwards of 900 feet high, and are surmounted by the remains of an old British fortress, which commanded the pass, called Castle Dinas Bran (dinas means a fort). A winding path leads to it from the Tower farm. Going down the Dee, you come to Plâs-y-Pentre, a seat between the river and the canal, below which is the Pont-y-Cysylltan, or aqueduct which carries the Ellesmere canal over the valley.

A little above Llangollen is Voile Crucis, or the Valley of the Cross, which may be ascended to view the striking remains of an abbey, founded in the 13th century, beyond which is the more ancient Cross called Eliseg, which gives name to the pass. The road leads hence over Craig Eglwyseg, and other peaks 1,500 to 1,800 feet high, to the head of the Vale of Clwydd, and to Ruthin and Denbigh Castles.

Down the Dee, below the Cysylltan aqueduct is Wynnstay, the hospitable and extensive mansion of Sir W. W. Wynne, Bart., in a beautiful park of 9 miles circuit. Watt’s dyke intersects the grounds, in which are an obelisk 101 feet high, a cenotaph to the memory of those soldiers who fell in the Irish rebellion of ’98, and a tower to commemorate the victory of Waterloo. Since writing the above, the mansion has been totally destroyed, with its very valuable contents, by fire.

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