My first stop was at the Horseshoe Falls just off the A5 about 3 miles from Llangollen - I'd heard mention of the place several times in previous years, and only recently it had been featured in the tv programme Great Canal Journeys. It looked like a really nice beauty spot and well worth a few photos, but finding the way to it proved to be a bit confusing. I'd been told there was a car park nearby and the falls were a short walk from there; I found the car park with no problem, and a signpost near the entrance pointed right across the car park for the canal and left along the lane to the falls. Walking along with the dogs, and seeing the river way down below the lane, my sense of direction told me I was going completely the wrong way, but eventually I came to a church with a path by the side of the wall and a sign pointing down the hill. At the bottom I turned back in the direction I'd gone and after a few more minutes walking I finally reached my goal - and I have to say that I was totally unimpressed.
The Horseshoe Falls is a crescent-shaped artificial waterfall designed by Thomas Telford to feed water from the River Dee into the beginning of the Llangollen Canal, and though it looks nice on photos and postcards I found the reality to be somewhat underwhelming. Just down below the waterfall itself was a grassy 'island' in the middle of the river, with the large trunk of a fallen tree at its edge. Another tree trunk lay further round, and caught up in the roots of both was a quantity of bare branches and other vegetation, lengths of blue rope and various other items of rubbish, presumably washed down during the very wet winter weather. It made the whole place look much less attractive than it should have been, and getting a good photo of the full sweep of the waterfall proved impossible but I managed a couple of shots of part of it; it's a pity that whoever holds responsibility for the land and river hadn't removed all the debris before the tourist season got underway.
I was just about to set off back to the car park when I got chatting to a couple with a little dog; they lived locally, and when I mentioned my walk along the road in my quest to find the waterfall they told me I'd only needed to follow the 'canal' sign from the car park and a short walk along the tow path would have brought me right to it. So that's the way I went back, and it was much quicker than the other way - and arriving back at the van I had to wonder why the waterfall wasn't signposted that way instead of along the lane, as it was a much simpler route and far more logical.
My second stop was at the ruined Valle Crucis Abbey, just off the A542 in the countryside just to the north of Llangollen. Arriving just after 11am I parked the van on the lane not far from the entrance and as I knew that dogs were allowed in I took them both with me, however when I got to the gate I found a notice on the door saying that the abbey wouldn't be open until noon. With almost an hour to kill I wandered into the nearby camping field to snatch a quick photo then went up to the tea room for a coffee - and all I can say about that is that I've had better elsewhere.
It was just on noon when I got back to the abbey and it was still closed so I sat on a nearby wall to wait for a while, but even after another half hour there was still no sign of the place opening. While I'd been sitting there several people had arrived, hung around for a few minutes then left again, so I wasn't the only one wanting to go in. I didn't want to wait much longer myself as there were other places I wanted to go to, but neither did I want to miss a photo opportunity - drastic action was needed, so I put the dogs in the van, went back to the abbey entrance and climbed over the gate into the grounds. I made my visit fairly brief, forgoing the inside of the ruins and concentrating on walking round the outside to get the shots I wanted before clambering back over the gate and returning to the van.