Llangollen's setting in a deep valley carved by the River Dee gives it a typically Welsh appearance. The bridge over the Dee, a 14th-century stone structure, is named in a traditional Welsh folk song as one of the "Seven Wonders of Wales." In July the very popular International Musical Eisteddfod brings crowds to town.
For a particularly scenic drive in this area, head for the Horseshoe Pass. For other views, follow the marked footpath from the north end of the canal bridge up a steep hill to see Castell Dinas Bran, the ruins of a 13th-century castle built by a native Welsh ruler. The views of the town and the Vale of Llangollen are worth the 45-minute (one-way) walk.
Welsh: A Short Primer
The native language of Wales, Welsh (or Cymraeg, as it's properly called) is spoken fluently by around a quarter of the population. (The vast majority, however, speak a little.) Not legally recognized in Britain until the 1960s, it was suppressed beginning in the time of Henry VIII and blamed for poor literacy during the reign of Queen Victoria. Today Welsh children under 17 are required to take classes to learn the language.
Welsh may look daunting to pronounce, but it is a phonetic language; pronunciation is fairly easy once the alphabet is learned. Remember that "dd" is sounded like "th" in they, "f" sounds like "v" in save, and "ff" is the equivalent of the English "f" in forest. The "ll" sound has no English equivalent; the closest match is the "cl" sound in "close."
Terms that crop up frequently in Welsh are bach or fach (small), craig or graig (rock), cwm (valley; pronounced cum), dyffryn (valley), eglwys (church), glyn (glen), llyn (lake), mawr or fawr (great, big), mynydd or fynydd (mountain, moorland), pentre (village, homestead), plas (hall, mansion), and pont or bont (bridge).
Llangollen at a Glance
Sports and Outdoors
Elsewhere in North Wales
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