The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is a hidden gem located within the picturesque hills and mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park, meandering peacefully through unspoilt countryside, past interesting villages with an abundance of wildlife to obverve. The canal provides just under 36 miles of navigable waterway, between Pontypool and Brecon, and has a total of 6 locks, plenty of stone bridges, quite a few small aqueducts, one tunnel and a large aqueduct. It is ideal for novices looking for a relaxed introduction to boating.
Ideal if you're looking for a rural retreat, this area has an abundance of outdoor activities for couples and family groups to experience including trekking, horse riding, biking, fishing or even white water rafting. Click for suggested routes.
The sample routes below are merely suggestions. The age and nature of our unique waterways means that there may occasionally be a need for planned or emergency restrictions or closures and therefore it cannot be guaranteed that every route will always be available.
Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Intermediate route: Llangynidr and Return - 32 miles, 0 locks, 13 hours total
Depart the marina heading in a north westerly direction through wooded scenery. Following the winding contours of this canal, you pass Llanellen to the east and to the west the hills start to rise sharply, providing spectacular views. Old tramways, which were once used to carry coal, iron ore and limestone, remind you of the industrial heritage of the waterway as you make your way to Llanfoist. The bridge by the boatyard here is a good place to moor if you'd like to explore Abergavenny. There is a waterfront pub at Govilon, for an evening meal before making your way to Llangattock through picturesque parkland. Llangattock is a good place to moor to explore the Brecon Beacons. Horses can be hired at Crickhowell if you wish to explore the park. Passing over a small aqueduct, you soon return to wooded hilly landscape from Glanusk Park to Llangynidr. You can turn around just before Llangynidr Yard Bridge, before the locks.
Active route: Talybont-on-Usk and Return - 39 miles, 10 locks, 18 hours total
Suited for a midweek break, cruising approximately 5-6 hours a day. This route follows the same path as Llangynidr (above), plus an additional 3 miles cruising between Llangynidr to Talybont-on-Usk.
Just beyond Llangynidr are five locks. There is an ideal spot to stop for a picnic, set in woodland, before you conitnue your route through the short Ashford Tunnel. You can turn at Talybont-on-Usk just before the aqueduct which passes over the Caerfanell River.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Brecon and Return - 51 miles, 12 locks, 24.5 hours total
Depart Goytre cruising north west through a thick wooded cutting, before the winding course of this canal leads you through open valleys. Llanover Park can be seen in the far off distance, making horseshoe bends under pretty stone bridges and over small aqueducts. The canal often flows close noisy, gurgling streams with spectacular views of the Monmouthshire hills running alongside.
The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is the perfect waterway for an outdoor explorer, with an abundance of walks available from the canal as well as a golfing opportunities, horse riding or pony trekking, canoeing or even white water rafting on the River Usk.
From Llanfoist you can moor at the boathouse and follow the course of the old tramway into the Black Mountains. For the very adventurous, there are opportunities to go white water rafting on the River Usk near Abergavenny, or even go for a swim in the wild waters. Situated beside the River Usk, Abergavenny can be accessed from the pleasant town of Llanfoist (just under 2 miles walk from the canal). Abergavenny has plenty of shops, a museum and castle and also offers bike hire.
Departing Llanfoist and Abergavenny, cruise through flatter wooded scenery past Gilwern, as you make your way through extensive parkland to Llangattock. Mooring at Llangattock at bridge 115, you can take a stroll to explore the caving sites in the area or to the interesting market town of Crickhowell, which is nestled in the valleys of the mountains. It has unique shops and plenty of eateries to choose from. The bridge over the River Usk provides some good fishing opportunities. Returning to the canal, you pass over a small aqueduct before it leads you into thick woods as you make your way past Llangynidr. Just beyond Llangynidr are the five locks and an ideal spot for a picnic set, in the woodland before you cruise through the short Ashford Tunnel. As you approach Talybont-on-Usk, cruise over the Caerfanell River on an aqueduct and through the village to an electic lift bridge. The quiet village has much to offer including fishing facilities, horse riding, walking and biking. There are some stores in the village for stocking up, as well as a couple of pubs.
A sharp bend in the waterways takes you to Pencelli, where the ruins of Pencelli Castle overlook the village. Depart the village through a low embankment, heading in the direction of Llanfrynach, which is accessible from bridge 158. The four-arched Brynich Aqueduct, built by the engineer Thomas Dadford, carries the canal over the River Usk and a sharp turn leads to pretty Brynich Lock. The River Usk and the mountains are visible now to the left of the canal. A bench turns its back on the canal, providing one of the best views on the canal network. Pretty houses and gardens lead you into Brecon before the navigation ends at the Theatre Basin. The market town is home to Theatre Brycheiniog and Brecon Cathedral (dating back to the 13th Century) as well as Brecknock Museum and the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh. Take the afternoon to explore the many winding streets, with interesting shops and cafes as well as numerous public houses, before turning in the basin to start making your return journey to the wharf.