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Canal Boat Holidays - Wales's Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal

Updated on November 18, 2009

Take it Easy

Take things easy by hiring a narrow boat and take a relaxing canal trip along the Welsh Brecon and Monmouthshire canal. Nothing can be more peaceful than to sit on the deck of a canal barge as it drifts along these old waterways.

In today’s modern, chaotic, stress driven working week it is ever likely that when people take a holiday it is either to some adrenaline fueled fun park to maintain their stress levels or somewhere more calming to take stock and relax. To recharge the batteries and get away from it all.

Well if you fall into the later category you should give a canal barge holiday a whirl. Travelling at a break neck speed of 4 miles an hour through some of Britain’s most gorgeous countryside, taking your time to appreciate what is around you rather than indulging in road rage and letting the scenery wash over you. This is the perfect way to calm the corporate beast.

 Two hundred years ago these tranquil waterways were the M25 of their day, linking the industrial centres around the country. Bringing raw materials and finished products to towns, cities and ports for distribution throughout the world. These days it is hard to imagine them as anything but peaceful haven’s from the pressures of the modern age. Gone are the noxious, fume spewing iron works, the slag heaps and the lime kilns and in many instances the countryside has been reclaimed by mother nature.

The 33 miles of Monmouthshire and Brecon canal provides the prefect escape solution. Set on the borders of the Brecon National Park, the canal was originally opened in 1797 with work finally reaching Brecon in 1800. Its path from Pontymoel junction is level for the first 23 miles and then at Llangynidr raises through a flight of five locks. As you near Brecon the canal crosses the river Usk on the Brynich Aqueduct and then you travel through a half mile tunnel to reach the Theatre basin in Brecon.

As you gently drift along the canal you can explore the market towns of Abergavenny with its museum and Norman Castle, picturesque Crickhowell and Brecon with its Cathedral and Georgian splendour. The area you casually drift through was once the heartland of the industrial revolution with the nearby steel producing towns of Ebbw Vale, Pontypool and Blaenavon with its world heritage blast furnace and the Big Pit Museum. All were linked to the canal by tramlines and the remnants of their loading wharves, coal basins and factories are now lie abandoned and scattered along the towpath like ghosts of some past age. Much of the length of the canal winds its way through the reclaimed countryside of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, giving you ample chance to simply enjoy the beauty of the Welsh landscape.

Going back in time, does not necessarily mean sacrificing your treasured crutches of the twenty first century as many of the modern barges and even the retro fitted old narrow boats are equipped with all the mod cons you expect to find. Despite the cosy surroundings these caravans of the waterways contain excellent kitchen facilities, central heating, showers or hip baths and TV, DVD players. Traditionally having between 4 and 8 berths, with either double beds, bunkbeds or foldaway beds, these compact but elegant craft are the perfect mobile getaway.


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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 8 years ago from Chicago

      Gorgeous Photos. I've been to Wales, the place of my ancestors, but missed this tranquil, peaceful, relaxing canal trip. I love to get off the motorway by ship or train. It is such a different view. Thanks for the journey. I took a trip and never left the farm! :)

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 8 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Hi Gypsy, glad to give you some hiraeth, now that I don't live there I regret not more often walking the canals, visiting castles and climbing the hills that were on my doorstep. It is such a vibrant interesting country and so beautiful to visit. We should be proud to shout about it.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Lovely hub about an area I know so well. Thank you for taking me back there. Wales is truly beautiful. Check out some of my Welsh hubs!

    • knell63 profile image

      knell63 8 years ago from Umbria, Italy

      Thanks both, glad you like the hub, its such a beautiful place and so peaceful but if you look back over the areas history 200 years ago it was the heart of the industrial revolution and very dirty and busy. How things change hey.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Stunning hub, great pics. So relaxing. It reminds me, only in spots, of out Erie Canal here in Upstate New York. Thank you.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      That must have been an experience and thank you for sharing.