Bridge over trouble waters

Chain Bridge, Berwyn, Llangollen, Wales
Chainbridge Hotel, Berwyn, Llangollen, Wales

Take the steam or heritage diesel train out of Llangollen, and get off at the first stop, Berwyn. Leave the station at the Llangollen end of the platform and dive down a steep path to an attractive suspension footbridge called the Chain Bridge, which was out of use from 1984 until it was restored by Llangollen Town Council and Llantysilio Community Council in 2015. 

The original bridge, to a different design, was built by a mine-owner, Exuperious Pickering, to connect with the Llangollen Canal and the Holyhead Road in 1814.  This was replaced in 1870, shortly after the railway opened, by Sir Henry Robinson, owner of the Brymbo Steel Works:  this second bridge was destroyed in a flood in 1928 and replaced by the present strengthened structure the following year.

Alongside is the Chainbridge Hotel, one of my favourite retreats, for its setting, its excellent hospitality and – most of all – its outstandingly professional and friendly staff team.  

An attractive Victorian black-and-white revival house is attached to an uncompromising sixties block of comfortable bedrooms and public rooms.  

It’s an extremely narrow, cramped building, simply because it sits between the rapids of the River Dee and the watercourse that takes water from the Horseshoe Falls to feed the Llangollen Canal.

These constraints are actually virtues.  The ground-floor dining room and bar offer close-up views of the ever-changing patterns of water on rocks.  The river-view bedrooms have balconies looking across to the railway, so that at regular intervals the  whistles and the quiet clatter of railway carriages carries across the valley.

Pick a quiet time of year, and you could be anywhere in the world, surrounded by trees and water.

It’s a wonderful place to unwind.

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