Despite living relatively close to Llangollen and visiting on many occasions over the years, we have never taken a ride on the canal. Last weekend we changed that. The weather was glorious, so we decided to pop along to Llangollen Wharf to visit the horses and take a ride.
A LONG HISTORY
Llangollen Wharf has hosted canal rides as far back as 1884. Today, the long tradition continues, and visitors can enjoy a relaxing horse drawn boat trip along the canal. There are two options available.
The first is a 45-minute ride which is enough time to relax, unwind and experience a slower pace of travel on the canal.
The second horse drawn option is the chance to experience a 2-hour boat trip which will take you along the canal all the way up to Horseshoe Falls on the River Dee. Finally, Llangollen Wharf also offers a motorised boat trip which takes visitors through the Vale of Llangollen and across the famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
With two little humans in tow, we decided that the shortest of the options would be the best one to start with for our first time.
THE BOAT TRIP
As soon as we made our way up to Llangollen Wharf and the Bear saw the horses, we knew that they would love to take a trip. It was a glorious day but as it was still only February, things were quiet on the wharf. Sunny day and not too busy? Needless to say we took advantage and hopped aboard.
The boat itself caters for any weather with both outdoor and indoor seating areas. Although we started off under cover, both kids were keen to explore and spent the entire trip at the front of the boat.
The sides of the areas of the boat which are not undercover aren’t particularly high, so this isn’t something you can let really little ones do on their own. However, as long as you are close by to hold on to coat tails as they invariably lean as far out you will let them, it is a great way for them to see the water side.
Henry enjoyed the trip and had a great time taking in his surroundings. However, Darcie – at 4 years old – LOVED it! She spent the entire trip looking out along the waterway watching the people, trying to spot the canal side wild life and watching our horse Harley pull the boat. She was captivated for every single second of the trip.
At just 45 minutes, you don’t go particularly far along the canal. However, it was long enough to enjoy the slower pace of travel and take in some of the beautiful surroundings as you leave the centre Llangollen.
When I asked our two what their favourite part was, it was unanimous and both answered that it was going under the bridges of which there were two on the journey.
Be warned though, the second of the bridges isn’t quite as pretty as the first (hence no picture) but you do get rather close to the sides of it. That wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t covered in a particularly lovely green sludge that Darcie immediately shot her hand out to touch. I then spent the rest of the day with said sludge wiped on my trousers. So, just be warned to keep little arms inside the boat at that stage!
This is a really sweet trip and I would definitely include it in your plans if you’re visiting Llangollen for the day. It’s a unique way to see the town and gives you a wonderful snapshot of a slower way of life from yesteryear. What was nice though, is that it appealed to us all. With all four of us taking something different from it.
This makes it a great option for all kinds of day trip. Whether it be adults looking for something to do or families looking to keep a wide range of age groups entertained, I think any age group would take something from a trip like this. Especially the shorter option which is just long enough to enjoy the spirit of the boat ride, but not too long that little ones get bored.
45 minutes turned out to be the perfect length for us. Henry – at 2-years-old – has an attention span which was starting to wander by the time we came back in to the wharf.
We wouldn’t necessarily do the same trip again as once you’ve done it, you’ve pretty much done it. However, I would happily go back to enjoy their longer trip up to horseshoe falls once Henry is a little older, as well as the motorised ride out to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.