Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Riding the rapids on the River Dee, Llangollen

No, not me or us, but brave canoeists on the water and a brave man hanging from a rope above.

With two wedding anniversaries falling quite close together, it was time to catch up and celebrate with friends. We settled on the Chain Bridge Hotel, Berwyn, Llangollen. Since its transformation under new owners a few years ago, it has become once again one of our special places for lunch. Especially as our friends lived quite near. We find now that with more time on our hands we enjoy lunch and a relaxing afternoon rather than a late dinner.

Turning off the A539 through beautiful Llangollen, we travelled down a narrow road, eventually coming to the sharp turning over the narrow canal bridge, which took us into the lower car park between the canal that is shielded by a huge wall of rock, and the raging River Dee.

We always comment about the time many years ago when we were going there for a New Year's Eve dinner. It was dark. It was cold. It was foggy. Very very, foggy. My OH was driving as he doesn't drink alcohol which meant that the rest of us could.
With hearts in our mouths as the edge of the canal loomed frighteningly near to the side of the car, and keeping a careful silence whilst our skillful driver inched his way down the road, we eventually arrived safely into a parking place. There was no space to turn round for our return journey; our hearts were in our mouths as OH backed all the way up the road between cars and the canal edge where the water was still and silent, waiting to catch us if we slipped! With relief we reached a turning space and headed safely home. 

Today, we remembered this and laughed. My husband always responds that we were no where near the edge of the canal! The hotel is once again a busy venue for walkers, ramblers, and simply for anyone who wants a quiet lunch with the soothing sound of the river rushing by under the panoramic windows. 

The railway line from Llangollen now extends to Corwen. A 'Thomas Tank' steam engine pulling many coaches was in the station high above and in front of us, outside the ancient black and white station house which led out to the A5. The historic chain bridge was nearly restored.
"Look", I cried out, "the chains are in place". (Last time we lunched there they hadn't been.)
The pleasant Bar for lunch
A brave man in safety gear was abseiling along the wires as he checked the nets underneath. That reminded me of my sea-level traverse in Anglesey many years ago when undergoing a team-building session as part of a management training course. All he had above him was a thick wire but at least he had a safety net underneath. All I had was a blue sky above and a roaring sea below as I flung myself off the rock to cross an inlet.

Now, I jumped up again, camera at the ready. Coming rapidly down the swollen river which was running fast, was a large canoe full of canoeists. Once under the bridge, the current flung them into the side of the bank. Then came another. What excitement! And the man was abseiling back along the wire to the other end. 'Thomas Tank' blew his steam as he puffed out of the station on his return journey.

In finishing, I must add that the food was excellent as was the wine list and our friend enjoyed his Wrexham Lager. I suspect that is why he chose the Chain Bridge Hotel when given a choice!

Rosalie xx

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Rosalie Marsh. Author, Speaker, Educator.

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