I am including this as a new series as I wanted to cover some historical points of interest in the walks that I take. The first walk that I am looking at is the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal walk that can be started in Brecon and will lead you down through the valleys to Pontymoile and further along to Cwmbran where it breaks down and has been built over in places. So, without further ado…
I’m really lucky to live not far from part of the canal that makes up Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Taken from the website Canal River Trust the history can be explained as ”
What is nowadays popularly referred to as the Mon & Brec started life as two separate canals: the Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal, and the Monmouthshire Canal. The 35-mile navigable section seen today is mostly the former. In the 1790s, the Monmouthshire Canal Company received its Act of Parliament at the same time that the Brecknock & Abergavenny was being planned. Following discussions, it was decided to link the two at Pontymoile.
The Monmouthshire Canal, including a branch from Malpas to Crumlin, was opened in 1799 with the Brecknock & Abergavenny extending from Brecon to Gilwern by 1800, finally reaching Pontymoile by 1812.
Both canals were supported by horsedrawn tramroads that were mainly used to bring coal, limestone and iron ore from the hillsides. The canal played a significant part in our industrial heritage, connecting Hill’s tramroads to the iron works in Blaenavon and the forges at Garnddyrys.
Though originally constructed to transport coal, lime and agricultural products the canal was used extensively by ironmasters and industrialists as their main transport network, bringing the raw iron ore up the canal from Newport to Llanfoist Wharf and thence by tramroads to the iron works and returning with trams loaded with iron, the finished product. Remains of this heritage can still be viewed along the canal today these include wharfs and lime kilns.
The Blaenavon area and a section of the canal were granted World Heritage status in 2000 in recognition of its historical significance.
In 1880 the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals were taken over by the Great Western Railway. Within 35 years, commercial carrying had all but ceased.”
I live not far from the Pontymoile part of the canal and this is where I usually join the canal. You can see lots of different things along the canal including wildlife (different types of birds, fish and insects). It’s a fab walk for many different energy fitness levels and is flat, tarmacked in many places and easy to navigate! This walk is best to go on in daylight as much of the canal isn’t lit and can become hard to navigate once evening sets in but weather wise you can do this walk in any weather really, just make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear!!!
Here’s some photos that I have taken in the past of the canal walk!