The only reason I'd gone to Llangollen at all was to treat myself to a meal at the Deeside Cafe which had been recommended to me. It didn't seem to be a particularly big place and it was quite busy but I must have just gone at the right time as I was lucky enough to be shown to a table straight away. I ordered the home-made steak pie with mash and peas and I have to say that it must be just about the best steak pie I've ever had. With big chunks of tender steak and plenty of gravy in an individual pot topped by a light puff pastry crust it was such a generous plateful that I couldn't quite eat it all.
Back outside the cafe I noticed a crowd of people standing along the nearby bridge and looking over the wall; they were watching several
Heading back towards Chirk I eventually turned off the main A5 onto the B5434 which would take me across the River Dee to the Trevor basin at the far end of the Pontcysyllte aquaduct, but not far down the road I turned off at a nice little canal-side spot where I could park right beside the water. A little way along the lane a footbridge and a lift bridge spanned the canal; a narrowboat was approaching from the far side so I watched while one of the people on board jumped off and raised the lift bridge to allow the boat through, then when it was lowered again I crossed to the other side of the canal and walked along in the direction of Chirk.
In spite of the grey weather it was a pleasant walk along the tree-shaded footpath and I stopped for a few minutes to watch a young guy landing a fish he'd just caught near the back of his boat. It looked big enough to make a meal for one but I was glad to see that he put it back once he'd unhooked it.
Just behind where the boats were moored was a high stone wall with several arches at ground level, some of which were bricked up, and a sign on the wall informed me that this was 'The Old Limekilns, Froncysyllte'. The six large lime kilns were built into the escarpment alongside the canal in the early 1800s and were supplied by stone quarried from an isolated limestone outcrop above Froncysyllte village. The original boat dock below was used to unload the coal which worked the kilns and the lime produced was used for both agricultural and industrial purposes.
Eventually I turned and retraced my steps, continuing along that side of the canal towards the Pontcysyllte aquaduct. Just by the lift bridge was a wooden fence and gate across the path, and a notice on the fence amused me enough to take a photo of it. I don't know who thought that one up but it was a nice reminder to people to watch out for the many ducks which in habited that corner of the canal.
A bit further on was a modern sculpture by artist Anthony Lysycia, commemorating the local limestone industry of the past; although the inscriptions were rather weather-worn it was just possible to make out the words 'Chirk Castle Limestone Company' at the top and 'Canada Bill' under the depicted figure. Information has proved difficult to find but one source suggests that Canada Bill was a local man who worked for the limestone company and had a Canadian wife.
I walked as far as the aquaduct then turned and headed back the other way. This time I crossed the canal via the footbridge as the lift bridge had been raised, so while I was up there I got a shot of a couple of boats coming through. Those were to be the last ones of the day as time was getting on, and with the dark grey cloud in the distance there was every possibility that it might rain again soon.
As I put the dogs in the van the car parked in front of me pulled away, which meant that I didn't have to do a lot of manoeuvring to get out of my own space. The lane is too narrow to turn round - unless you want to risk ending up in the water - so you have to reverse to the end, and as I watched the other guy backing up I noticed four ducks wandering right behind his car and in danger of being squashed. He obviously hadn't seen them so I yelled "STOP!! THERE ARE DUCKS RIGHT BEHIND YOU!!" Fortunately he heard me and stopped, and I went along to shoo them out of harm's way - squashed duck was the last thing I wanted to see.
After that little event the drive back along the A5 to the camp site was straightforward and the three of us were soon settled in the tent for the evening. I may not have got the 'blue sky' photos I really wanted but most of the ones at Chirk Castle came out okay, and with a good meal and a decent dog walk it had been quite a good afternoon out in spite of the grey weather.