Chirk – 29th May 2022

Strenuous: Carole                                                                             Distance : 11 miles

A bit of road walking to get out of town, then along the Shropshire Union Canal, over the aqueduct, then towpath as far as Rhosiel, returning by footpaths and lanes to Pont Faen Bridge.  Footpath then along the river,  under the viaduct and aqueduct, then along road back to Chirk.  It should be fairly good underfoot, flat along canal towpath with some ups and downs on the lanes.  We leave Chirk and cross from Wales into England to join the Llwybr Maelor Way walking west parallel to R. Ceiriog. We then cross the river back into Wales and climb up to Chirk Castle for lunch. Heading north along Offa’s Dyke Path and turning east at Wern Wood to join the Llangollen Canal. We return back to Chirk along the canal, with a twiddle on the way….., through tunnels where you will need torches, and across Chirk Aqueduct.

Moderate: Peter                                                                             Distance :  6.00 + miles 

We will alight the coach pick up our gear then walk to the public toilets where we then head out to the Offa’s Dyke Trail. We follow the trail till we pick up Shropshire Union Canal and head back along the towpath through one or two tunnels to Chirk Aqueduct then back to Chirk town centre for refreshments of our choice. Happy days.

Easy Leader :  Jackie                                                       Distance : 4.50 to 5.00 miles

A bit of road walking to get out of town, then along the Shropshire Union Canal, over the aqueduct, then towpath as far as Rhosiel, returning by footpaths and lanes to Pont Faen Bridge.  Then footpath  along the river, under the viaduct and aqueduct, then along the road back to Chirk. 

It should be fairly good underfoot, flat along canal towpath with some ups and downs on the lanes.

NOTES ON THE AREA

The border town of Chirk stands on the escarpment above the point at which the rivers Ceiriog and Dee meet. and today is a small town situated between Wrexham and Oswestry. The name Chirk is thought to be an English corruption of the name ‘Ceiriog’, but it possibly comes from the word ‘Church’ as the original Welsh name for the town was ‘Eglwys-y-Waun’ or ‘Church on the Moor’ now shortened to Y Waun.

In the 19th century vital road, rail and canal links were developed and the town was a centre of communication. Chirk became a staging post on the A5 London to Holyhead mail road, which was originally one of the famous Roman roads, whilst the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal reached Chirk in 1801. The Llangollen canal is perhaps Britain’s most popular cruising canal and Chirk Marina is well situated between Thomas Telford’s two magnificent aqueducts at Chirk and at Pontcysyllte. It is possible to walk across both aqueducts, if you have a head for heights. Chirk Aqueduct, built between 1796 and 1801 by Telford and William Jessop, is 70 feet high with 10 arches. At the northern end of the aqueduct, the canal enters Darkie Tunnel which is wide enough for a single barge and walkway. Using the walkway it is possible to walk through the quarter mile long tunnel.  The River Ceiriog rises in the Berwyn Mountains at 1,800 feet and then swiftly, impetuously, descends eastwards for some 18 miles to meet with the more sedate River Dee. During its length, the Ceiriog Valley provides a myriad of different landscapes and every turn in the valley’s meandering road brings something new and unexpected.

The area’s main visitor attraction is Chirk Castle, a magnificient 700 year old motte and bailey marcher fortress built by King Edward I. Now owned by the National Trust, the castle is open to the public and has a shop and licenced tea room. Two families are associated with the town and its castle, the Trevor family of Brynkinallt and the Myddletons. The Hughes of Gwerclas, a family descended from the ancient kings of Powys, also dwelt in the area for many years.

Another attraction in the area is a section of Offa’s Dyke. Some of us will be walking on a part of the path.  The Parish Church of St Mary’s is a Grade I listed building. The current church building was begun during the 11th Century by the Normans, although it is believed that an older llan, dedicated to St Tysilio, had existed on the site. Indeed, the current church was known by the dedication of St Tysilio until the late 15th or early 16th century, after which it was re-dedicated to St Mary.

Chirk’s industry was in coal mining with coal being worked since the 17th century. The largest of these collieries were Black Park, one of the oldest in the north of Wales, and Brynkinallt, Welsh: Bryncunallt. But these coal mines are now closed, although there is a street called Colliery Road.

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