Brecon and Monmouth Canal, Wales

A contour canal running alongside the river Usk in south Wales, with excellent views across to the Brecon Beacons. this is a trip of about 35 miles, starting in Brecon and finishing on the outskirts of Pontypool. There is campsite in Talybont for base camping, one lock shortly after the start from Brecon, a 100 metre tunnel, an aqueduct and a flight of locks to portage near Llangynidr

The water is often a very red colour from the local soils, there are may drawbridges which can be raised or lowered. At the flight of locks, it is worth portaging the first three locks. The canal is often very woodied but there are views north across the valley.

Starting in Brecon Basin where there several cafes an refreshment shops, you start heading east and after four km you come to the first lock and then an aqueduct over the river Usk, (canoeable, but look on the internet for restrictions) There are few narrow boats which tend to use a nice leisurely pace as it is a dead end canal in each direction. At weekends the canal path can be quite a busy with walkers and cyclists.

After Pencilli there are many drawbridges rather than bridges, mainly for the use of farmers. Talybont is next with a campsite, two pubs and small cafe. You actually look down on these from the canal. Stop by the drawbridge. After Talybont there is a narrow tunnel to go through for just over 100mtrs. Make sure you have a bright light, it is a difficult portage by the road. You then reach the flight of locks, portage the first three as they are close together. Llanggynidr is next little vilage you come to.

Most of the time, you are in very peaceful surroundings. If you want a pub stop, the small road bridge at Llangattock leads to a small pub, about a 5 minute walk. At Govililon you follow a sharp U bend as the canal follows the contours and then straightens out until the next U bend where the canal starts to wiggle a bit more.

At Goytre Wharf there a small marina is reached with an ice cream shop. You can look down on a house beneath the level of the canal. You now head due south, going past end of the ridge on the west and reaching the outskirts of Pontypool. The land on either side of the canal is more built up now, but still has a rural and feel to it. Shortly before Cwmbran, the canal now comes to a stop where there was obviously a flight of locks going down. Although some of the basins are in place, there is no plan to re construct them in the near future.

One of several murals in Brecon Wharf side in Brecon Leaving Brecon First lock
Aqueduct Looking over to the river Usk Drawbridge Approaching the tunnel
The flight of locks Near Talybont Llangynidr Typical scene
Slow barges Goytre Wharf Small road bridge Large road tunnel near the end.