AHNE Bryniau Clwyd / Clwydian Range AONB

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Our Picturesque Landscape Project

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Our Picturesque Landscape is an exciting new project that centres on the landscape of the Dee Valley and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site.  It takes as its theme the inspirational journeys that have and continue to to be a feature of the area which is cut by the canal, Telfords A5 and the River Dee.  Visitors have drawn inspiration from this beautiful valley in art and poetry since the 18th century and today it continues to drawn tourists in search of the sublime.

The project is a partnership project developed by the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, Wrexham County borough Council, Canal and River Trust, Denbighshire County Council, Shropshire Council, Natural Resouces Wales, Cadwyn Clwyd, the Aqueducts (Friends of the World Heritage Site) and the Friends of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley. 

Early Tourists

The story perhaps starts in 1771 when Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, influenced by his earlier grand tours of Europe set out on one of the first domestic excursions around his estates of North Wales, accompanied by artist Paul Sandby.  Sandby published XII views of North Wales and Sir Watkin commissioned two views of Dinas Bran from Richard Wilson, revealing a most picturesque and sublime landscape.  Other artists and commentators followed. 

Around the same time the Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, from their home at Plas Newydd were establishing the Dee Valley as a centre for picturesque appreciation.  They were great champions of the romantic and society became fascinated by their lives.  They played host to numerous visitors particularly writers including William Wordsworth and Anna Seward. 

Many of the original paintings have been reproduced by artists following in the footsteps of the early landscape painters.  JMW Turner in particular visited the Dee Valley a number of times and depicted the River Dee in Corwen and Valle Crucis Abbey and Castell Dinas Bran.

Great engineering structures at the time such as the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the Horseshoe Falls and the Chainbridge also seem to have had an eye for the aethetic, indicating that the grand engineering advances could take place in the landscape and complement nature.

By the early and mid 19th Century the popularisation of the landscape of the Dee Valley combined with other factors to begin to establish it in our consciousness as an iconic British landscape.

The A5 and railway became tourist routes, bringing visitors to North Wales in numbers and putting Llangollen and Corwen even more on the excursion map.

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