It leaves the Shropshire Union Canal just north of Nantwich in rural Cheshire and climbs through Shropshire countryside to cross the border into Wales near Chirk. It then winds alongside the River Dee just above Llangollen.
The 70 ft high Chirk aqueduct was built between 1796 and 1801 by Thomas Telford and William Jessop. There are 10 circular masonry arches each spanning 40ft. There is no cast iron trough carrying the water of the canal, instead the bed is of iron plates bolted together with the side walls built of stone, quarried locally at Pont Faen.
The Pontycyllte aqueduct pronounced “pont-kur-suck-tay” also known as “the stream in the sky” was also built by engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop in 1805. It created a navigable union between England and Wales. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 and is as important as Stonehenge.
The aqueduct has 18 piers and and 19 masonry arches held together by oxen blood, lime and water. It holds 1.5 million litres of water and takes 2 hours to drain. It is 1007 ft long and at the centre reaches 126ft high and is the largest aqueduct in Britain.
The water that feeds the canal runs through an iron trough that measures 11 ft 10” wide and 5ft 3” deep; because the trough is exposed there is an exhilarating sheer drop on the non towpath side when you cruise by narrowboat. The canal is fed by water from the Horseshoe falls in Llangollen.
The Horseshoe Falls is the start of the World Heritage Site and is 2.04 miles long. A picturesque visitor attraction offering picnic areas, canoeing, cruising by horse drawn boats and walking.