Your first view of the Horseshoe Falls is likely to make you a little giddy. The car park is on the hill overlooking this engineering marvel, and as you enter the field that leads steeply down to the Falls, be sure to remind yourself that this is man-made, and not some natural beauty. Thomas Telford had a knack it seems, for making the unnatural seem natural, worked metal and stone quite beautiful, and the Horseshoe Falls are no different. During the summer families picnic on the slopes of the hill, and steam trains make their way to Corwen on the south side of the river, stopping off at Berwyn along the way. Otters have returned to the river and have been spotted on the banks by the Falls.
The view down to the Horseshoe Falls from the Llantysilio road.
This near complete 140 metre semi-circle of weir was designed by the genius that was Thomas Telford and completed in 1808 in order to divert water from the River Dee into a navigable feeder for the Ellesmere Canal beyond Pontcysyllte. The river flows relentlessly on, though today some 13.7 million gallons flows through the valve house that was built in 1947, down to Llangollen and the wharf a little further on from the Eisteddfod Pavillion. Because it was such an important supplier of water, both to canals further along the route and to reservoirs for Cheshire, the canal survived the closures after the Second Word War. Though the canal from Llantysilio to Llangollen is not navigable by motorised narrowboats, due to it being too narrow, the towpath allows pedestrians to walk to Llangollen along its length and the canal that it feeds, from Llangollen to Nantwich and onwards has become one of the most popular stretches of cruising canal in the country.
The source of the Llangollen Canal
Since 2009, the Horseshoe Falls has been part of the World Heritage Site which covers over 11 miles of the Llangollen Canal, including the world famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At the Horseshoe Falls you can witnesses the means by which all that wonder was made possible.