Supplying the System

You are perhaps familiar with the motorway network…maybe have some idea of the main rail routes…but what about those other arteries of transport – the canals? 

Click here to take a look at a map of the network on the Canal and River Trust website.  Most of the routes are in England but one connection heads into North Wales.  I’m going to take you right to the end, just past the town of Llangollen.

The end is at this rather pretty spot, known as Horseshoe Falls.

What you are actually looking at is a weir.  It was designed by Thomas Telford to create a pool in the River Dee, from which water could be channelled into the canal.

But why do you need to channel water into a canal?  Isn’t it like one long puddle?  Well, no!  It might be a bit like that if the canal is crossing flat land, but to go up or down hill you need to use locks and each time a lock is used water moves down the hill, so you need a fresh supply of water coming in at the top of the hill.

At nearly 100 metres above sea level, the Horseshoe Falls are in a good position to feed water into the canal system and water entering here could eventually flow round to Chester via the canals.

Chester is where the River Dee goes too.  Water in the river certainly gets there quicker than water in the canal but the water in the canal is definitely flowing.  We’ll take a look at how they keep it moving next week.