I’m not quite sure how I came upon this walk, but it was probably through my mate Google Maps. The only time I’d been to Chirk was to visit National Trust’s Chirk Castle, I had no idea it had a Thomas Telford aqueduct (he who seemed to design everything back in the day) which carries the picturesque Llangollen canal high over the Ceiriog valley.
The area forms part of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site, which, if you haven’t been reading Aqueduct Weekly is also home to the big daddy of them all the Pontcysyllte aqueduct and whilst that’s definitely worth a visit, I think the Chirk one is a less scary prospect for families - wider path and not quite so high. That said you will need a head for heights and my word you’ll need to watch little ones.
Apart from the walk over, the other big draw is the Chirk Tunnel known locally as Darkie Tunnel. A short way down from where the aqueduct ends, the canal goes through 421 meters of darkness complete with a towpath! The children changed their minds about going on the walk when I told them a torch would be involved….that makes everything better apparently.
There’s a very small car park alongside the canal, opposite a little road called Canal View, just down from The Bridge Inn. Follow the tow path straight ahead (with your back to the car park and road), its a well kept wide path so doesn’t feel like you’re walking too near the water.
After five minutes you’ll turn a corner and be presented with the Chirk Aqueduct (built in 1801). The ground is 21 meters below you with the River Ceiriog passing under, I didn’t find it too unnerving but I was too busy watching the kids to have a good look down, but if vertigo is your thing then this is not the place for you!
Next to it is the even taller Chirk Viaduct which still carries trains over the valley today. Naturally we missed a steam train passing through by about five minutes, otherwise you would have been looking at some beautifully framed pictures. To be honest the Arriva train would of done but I missed that too…hopefully you’ll be luckier!
From here we walked straight ahead into Darkie Tunnel, we strapped our youngest in his pushchair (don’t take your double else you’ll block the path!) as although there’s a railing, its one with big gaps in it so they could fall in. You really will need a torch, (or use your phone), its pretty dark in there, we stopped halfway through and turned the torches off and apart from the light at each end of the tunnel it’s almost pitch black. Kids loved it and it seemed to go on forever!
We just wanted a quick walk today, so we headed back through the tunnel, then at the exit took the path leading up to the road, turned right at the top and found Caffi Wylfa and stopped in here for coffee and cake (they also serve family food). There’s a car park outside so you could alternatively park here as it’s just as near to the tunnel and aqueduct.
We then retraced our steps back to the car and decided to nip down to the river. To get there, we walked left out of the car park, followed the road down the hill, passed the Bridge Inn pub, crossed the bridge and just after there’s a footpath sign on the left opposite ‘Seventh Heaven’ (about a 5 min walk). I had wanted to walk under the aqueduct, but the kids weren’t in the mood so we just played down by the very fast flowing river for a bit.
You can really make this walk as long or short as you like. From where you first come out of the tunnel you can keep walking along the towpath towards Chirk Marina and beyond. Or from the car park you can walk in the opposite direction of the aqueduct. The towpath is also suitable for bikes and scooters if the kids are reluctant to walk, although they’ll have to be confident riders as you don’t want them taking a dip in the canal!
Finally, we drove across to Chirk Playground (Chapel Lane, just before the infant school), just a few minutes away. Lots of the usual things to do for all ages so they had a great run around here.