Over the next few weeks, as we all begin reconnecting with the outside world, SOUTH WALES LIFE will tour this beautiful region of ours to see how it’s looking post lockdown, and maybe come up with a few ideas of new places for you to visit. We’ll be dropping in on our beaches, mountains, towns, villages and City Centres. If there’s anywhere you think we should visit, just let us know.

This first is the MONMOUTHSHIRE & BRECON CANAL, at least a small, but nevertheless stunning stretch of it in Gilwern.

The canal itself winds its way through some gorgeous countryside in the Brecon Beacons National Park, but there are so many points you can enjoy it along the route. You can head out for a decent walk, try your hand at fishing, ride a bike along the banks or get in the water with a narrowboat or kayak. We saw all of that on out trip out, and so much more.

The Mon & Brec, as regulars call it, really is a little gem. We guarantee if you’ve not been before, as soon as you arrive, you’ll curse that you hadn’t, every section is truly stunning in its own way. It’s a haven for wildlife and you never know what you’ll see as you turn the next bend. The northern section forms part of the Taff Trail Long Distance Footpath, a 55 mile route that can be walked or cycled, starting at Brecon Basin and ending in Cardiff.

The navigable section of the canal runs for 35 miles from Brecon to the Pontymoile basin.

Everyone we spoke to was so pleased to be back enjoying what we are blessed to have around us. Whilst they appreciate it’s not quite as it used to be, and it may be a while before it is, even with social distancing in place, the joy of being outside was plain to see.

We met the ‘Harrisons’ from Merthyr, who hadn’t been to this stretch of the canal before. Like all of us, just to be outside together and enjoy some South Wales sunshine was a joy.

Dad Brian said………

“We’re a pretty outdoorsy lot and lockdown has been a nightmare, particularly the last month. The kids were great really, they seem to appreciate what it’s all about and why we have to social distance, but they have missed family and their mates.

They would ask when it’s going to be over and when could they see Nan and Bampi properly. The phone thing is fine but you can’t beat a proper hug I guess. It’s funny, but I never thought we’d hear the day when they begged to go back to school. I reckon after the summer they’ll be getting up extra early early to get there.”

And what about this stretch of the canal? Mum Karen told us…..

“I’t so beautiful. The weather helps of course, but the view of the mountains, down by the waterfall, and I love having a look over the hedge into peoples gardens, they’re all keep lovely. Little nicer than ours.”

That dig was aimed at Brian if you hadn’t guessed.

Just one thing to say, while there are picnic tables around, we certainly couldn’t see anywhere to get food or drink, or even a pee. Just be aware of that if you walk this section. But pack some food, plenty of cold drinks and you’ll have a fantastic time.

We also spoke to the guys from CASTLE NARROWBOATS, who we’re enjoying a cuppa and some afternoon sunshine (it’s their dog in the video). They said business is picking up following lockdown and they hoped for a good second half of summer into the autumn. You can see what they are up to, here. CASTLE

On the subject of the video, here’s our look at the Brecon Canal. It’s just two minutes, so enjoy.

The canal offers stunning views and peace and tranquility, and is the perfect base for exploring the area. To get to the spot we visited, just head to the Crickhowell Road around Gilwern. There is limited free parking and a couple of really nice picnic tables with seats. It’s very easy to keep your social distance but just watch for people sharing the path with you, and those out fishing.

You can download a copy of the canal guide right HERE.

The Canal and River Trust have some fantastic guides to days out here. They’re available in Welsh and English. If you’d like to download a copy and give them some support, go HERE.

While you’re there it’s worth a visit to THE TOWPATH INN for a drink and bite to eat – guidelines permitting. It’s a family run pub on the banks of the Canal. They’re also child and dog friendly too.

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