Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, a feat of amazing engineering winds its way through the beautiful Brecon Becons, a watery roadway built purposely for the transportation of Iron Ore. Reputed to be one of the most spectacular canals in the UK, the towpath winds its way over 36 miles between Brecon and Cwmbran.

Built in 1789 for the transportation of Iron Ore from the Garnddy Forge, which at the time was the largest Iron works in the world, to Newport from where it was shipped to world markets. The canal is 36 miles long and is cut into the mountain sides meandering through the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. A strange vista; to one side the steep mountainside upwards, and the other side falling below into the valleys. Locks are used to navigate the different levels.

Welsh Pit Ponies, a tough breed of horse that were also extensively uses in the mining of coal, pulled the barges of this precious ore along the canal on towpaths. These towpaths now provide a comfortable walking surface for walkers, cyclists and naturalists of all levels of fitness.

I went with a couple of my friends to LLanfoist, a village in the Valleys just outside Abergavanney in South Wales, for a walk along the Llanfoist to Govilon line walk alomg the Momouthshire and Brecon Canal. The weather was misty, damp and spitting rain at times, certainly a waterproof coat was needed. Initially, we walked along a disused railway line, rails now removed and replaced with a hard surface for walking and cycling, until we reached the canal at Govilon. We turned onto the canal towpath heading along the mountain side, steep to the right. Here canal narrow boats were tied up, the water was calm and mirror like and the fallen autumn leaves created colourful patterns on the surface. Walking towards bridge 96, about a quarter mile ahead, the woodland became heavier and the large oaks dwarfed us and the silence broken by the occasional flurry of wildlife. The Mallard ducks were minding their own business swimming around in pairs, the grey squirrels appeared out from the branches, just being inquisitive as to us being there and occasionally the clapping sounds of the wood pigeons flying from the woods with precise movements navigating their course through the woodland to the open spaces in the valleys below us.

Back at LLanfoist, we came across the Brecon Park Boats base. An idyllic location. The white three story cottage, smoke coming out of the chimney and the whole setting standing our against the wooded hills that surrounded it and the Luxurious Narrow Canal Boats that they hire out tied up for the winter.

From my short experience, I can only imagine what the rest of this Canal and the National Park had to offer. It is set firmly in my bucket list to walk or travel by boat this Canal in the not to distant future.


For more details please contact
British Waterways on- 01873 830328
Brecon Beacons National Park Authority on 01874 624437.

Beacon Park Boats Ltd.
Contact: Alasdair and Sarah Kirkpatrick
Tel: +44 (0)1873 858277 | Email: