Llangollen

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Llangollen is a pleasant town bestriding the river Dee.

Once it was an important stop for travellers heading to and from London on the A5 – now it is famous as the home of the International Musical Eisteddfod (not to be confused with Wales’ National Eisteddfod) which attracts competitors from all over the world in early July.

The Eisteddfod is now housed in a distinctive new permanent centre, the Royal International Pavilion, which also offers conference, exhibition and sports facilities. There is a yearly jazz festival in May and regular concerts by male voice choirs in June.

The town boasts a fine stone bridge across the Dee and a few miles away walkers can stroll over the elegant Ponteysyllte Aqueduct, high above the river at Froncysyilte. You can also go for a ride on the Llangollen steam train, and the town is an important centre for white water Canoe slaloms.

Perched high above the town is the ruined castle of Dinas Bran, which has been linked with the Holy Grail, and there are a number of scenic walks – you can join Offa’s Dyke trail.

You can also visit Plas Newydd, a gothic timber-framed house that was once the home of two eccentric Irish gentlewomen known as the Ladies of Llangollen. Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby invited the famous people of the 178Os to their home, including Wellington, Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth and Scott.

The European Centre for Traditional Cultures has a permanent exhibition of traditional crafts and there are facilities for seminars, conferences, concerts and events pertaining to minority cultures. There is a motor car museum about a mile west of the town and a Victorian classroom and museum in the former school in Parade Street.

Other attractions are a postal museum and a Dr Who Exhibition, with props and costumes from the series plus a toy factory and railway memorabilia. There is also a town trail (details at the Tourist Information Centre), and there are plentiful walks along the Shropshire Union Canal which passes through the town.

You can also take a horse-drawn barge along the canal to Thomas Telford’s Horsehoe Falls, built to provide water for the canal system, and there is also a Canal Museum and an antiques centre.

Outside the town, at the foot of the Horseshoe Pass, lies the ruined Valley Crucis Abbey – its former magnificence can still be detected in its ruined walls.

Further up the valley is the thousand-year old Eliseg’s Pillar commemorating the medieval kings of Powys. On the Horseshoe Pass is the Abbey Fishery. You can reach the Panorama Rocks by taking the turning by the Sun Trevor Inn on the Wrexham side of the town.

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