Walking Wednesday:The Brecon to Talybont-on- Usk Canal Walk

Brecon Canal Walk by Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages

This weeks walking Wednesday by Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages is a simple walk along the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal from Brecon to Talybont-on-Usk.  An excellent family walk as it is not too strenuous and there are plenty of places to stop. It’s a flat track and ideal for push-chairs.  The walk is scenic and seeing the occasional canal barge is always nice.  It’s a very straightforward hike that does not require a map.

Self Catering Counting House, one of Brecon Cottages properties on offer

If you’re an enthusiastic rambler than it is possible to do the whole canal. The total length of the canal is 35 miles (56km) long; it has five locks and goes along the Usk Valley.  It stops by numerous traditional Welsh villages such as Talybont-on-Usk, Llangynidr, Llangattock, Gilwen, Govilon and Llanfoist.

We like to think the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal is one of the most scenic canals in the British Isles because of all the different things along it.  There are a variety of great sights on offer such as views of the Brecon Beacons, the beautiful River Usk and some lovely countryside.  You’ll find lots of different species of trees along the walking path and plenty of wild flowers as well.  The canal is also a habitat for a number of different wildlife.

History of the Canal

Enjoy a holiday by the peaceful canal in Glan Camlas Cottage

Built between 1792 and 1812 the canal was designed to connect onto the Seven Estuary to link Brecon with Newport, so that stone and lime could be transported by barge.  The key reason for the construction was because roads in the area were exceptionally bad, and it was cheaper to construct a canal rather than build a road through the mountains and valleys of South Wales.
When the canal was at its peak there was a tram road link between the canal and the limestone quarries at Trefil and Llangattock.  The tram link was also connected to the Clydach iron works that led to the canal at Gilwern.
Today there is evidence of the canals industrial past with disused limekilns site still in place in Talybont-on-Usk.  In the late 18th century the canals trade links gradually started to decline and by the 1910s it ceased.

By the 1970s the British Waterways started to renovate the canal.  These days the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal is enjoyed by visitors and locals alike, another great Brecon Beacons site that is is a hive for people wishing to walk along it and enjoy activities.

The scenery is just lovely no matter what the season, in the winter the frosty banks are a special sight, in the spring the fresh arrival of nature is always evident with hundreds of daffodils spurting up, in the summer there’s always a hive of activity from people and wildlife and in autumn the incredible colours of the changing leaves is always a pleasant sight.

The Walk

Park your car in the car park next to the Brecon Canal Basin there are plenty of inviting places to stop along the way. It’s equally as nice to cycle this route.For the simple scenic walk: Start at the Brecon Brynich Lock next to Theatre Brychiniog and follow the path along the Brecon to Momouthshire canal, head towards Talybont-on-Usk.  Leaving Brecon you’ll see a hub for canal boats with the backdrop of Theatre Brychiniog, continue to walk in a Southerly direction and the views of the Usk Valley start to open up.  The first stretch of the walk will take you away from Brecon, for about 2.7 miles to Pencelli.  You should be able to count one lock and around 6 bridges.  Whilst on this part of the walk you’ll go past the outskirts of Llanfrynach. We’d recommend stopping at the White Swan Pub/ Restaurant for lunch, which is about 300 metres from the canal, you should walk onto the B4558; it’s the third bridge into the walk.  The next village along the canal is Pencelli you’ll spot the Royal Oak there, we’d recommend a stop off for a drink here.  There’s a beer garden and it’s a lovely place for a cold refreshing drink on a warm day.
From Pencelli it’s another 2 miles to Talybont-on-Usk, this is the final part of the walk.
There are some nice traditional pubs with restaurants to stop by in Talybont like the Star and the White Hart Inn.

Bridges in Talybont

From Talybont you can choose to walk back along the canal or wait for the bus to Brecon.  The bus stop is situated between the White Hart and the Star Inn buses go through the village four times a day at: 8:15, 14:16,16:46 or 18:36 on Sunday there is a bike bus that leaves Talybont at 12:40 and 16:40.

The Brecon Beacons National Park has recently introduced a Canal Food Trail.  Pick up a leaflet in the Brecon Tourist Information Centre for more information.

Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages along the canal:

Counting House
Glan Camlas Cottage
Ty Cerrig Granary
The Briars
Darnley Cottage

Further Reading



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