Guides look to keep tourists flocking in

Reporter:

Rob Bellis

RISING from the mist some 130ft above the Dee Valley, Telford’s majestic arches are a breathtaking sight on this winter morning.

The incredible feat of engineering that is Pontcysyllte Aqueduct forms the centrepiece of an 11-mile stretch of canal designated a World Heritage Site in 2009.

From the Horseshoe Falls in Llangollen to Gledrid in Chirk, the route takes in some of the region’s most breathtaking scenery and is surrounded by some of its most important historical sites.

Tourism chiefs are keen to make the most of the additional visitors World Heritage Status is sure to attract and a new course aims to create knowledgeable guides to help these sightseers make the most of their visit.

Bryn Hughes, from Glyn Ceiriog, is a Green Badge tourist guide.

He will be lending his experience to the course, developed by Coleg Llandrillo Cymru with Tourism Partnership North Wales and funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.

“You can train to work on a specific area, such as Llangollen and Pontcysyllte,” said Bryn. “Or train to full Green Badge level, which enables you to cover the whole of North Wales.

“There is already a group of us (Green Badge guides) – about 12 in all – working full and part-time and this is an effort to train up more people to work in this area and especially with the World Heritage Site.

“If students choose to, they can go on to study other aspects of local history – Wrexham industry, the Marches, Valle Crucis, castles, Welsh princes, Owain Glyndwr.”

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2009.

The structure, built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop, is a huge feat of engineering and is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.

Other World Heritage Sites including Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal.

Bryn continued: “World Heritage Status has certainly brought people in.

“Wrexham, in particular, is hoping to draw people in from other areas and that is when the tour guides will come in.

“We are looking at providing tours along the 11-mile stretch. We tried a couple during heritage week last year, which went very well, and we will be doing more as part of Wrexham’s Year of Culture.”

There are a number of ongoing plans to boost tourism in the region.

“There’s so much going on in the area,” said Bryn. “The Dragon Tower in Chirk, which you’d hope will bring people into the area; the marina plan for Cefn Mawr and the plans for the Glyn Valley Tramway.

“The World Heritage Status is still pretty new and we are hoping to develop ideas
along the route.”

There has been an excellent response to the tour guide course and organisers at Llandrillo College have been inundated with applications.

Nia Jones, head of travel and tourism at the college, said: “We’ve been inundated with initial inquiries from across the board – Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire – which was exactly what we were looking for.

“The applicants are from a range of backgrounds and there’s an age range from 30 to 76.”

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