A leisurely cruise along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal on Sunday 20th August 2017
We had a very good turnout of 19 Wye Dean members for the canal trip. We set off from various starting points for convenience, so some made their way straight to the canal basin at the theatre, and some of us met at Abergavenny, to drive to the Mountain Centre at Libanus for a coffee stop, where Kevin & Carol joined us. We arrived at the mountain centre a car short, and discovered that Martin & Sian's TR6 had stopped close by, and initially refused to re-start......after a few attempts it got going again, so they arrived a few minutes after the rest of us. The 'bonnet up' ceremony took place, and it was thought that all would be OK, so we enjoyed our coffee, and made to set off. And guess what? Despite everyone's best efforts, the car refused to start, so we had to say goodbye to Sian & Martin and set off for Brecon to meet up with the rest of the group, who'd had their coffee at the Theatre café.
The relaxing canal journey took 2 & a half hours, and included a chance to experience a lock, both going up & down, and stretch our legs on the 4 arched aqueduct at Brynich to allow the boat to turn. For the first part of the journey we had a commentary, giving the history and facts & figures related to the canals, but I'm afraid most of this was drowned out by the chat, so I'll add a few nuggets of info here -
The canal was initially built in 3 stages between 1796 & 1800, and linked Gilwern (Abergavenny) to Brecon - this was linked to the Monmouthshire canal in 1812. The total cost of construction of the whole canal was £200,000. By the 1860s, trade was being lost to the railways, and by 1920, most commercial trade had come to an end, with the last tolls taken at Llangynidr on 22nd February 1933. Restoration was begun in 1968, and the canal officially re-opened for recreational use in 1970 - sadly, in many areas further south, the canal has been piped to allow roads to be built, so it's not possible to sail the whole length, though I believe the towpath is usable over its length.
I love the eye watering figures related to the canal & the locks - the locks allow the boats to be raised or lowered by 3 metres; about 40,000 gallons of water flow into & out of the lock to raise/lower the boat, and in their heyday, the time taken to pass through the lock was just 4 minutes - it's not much more now. When the Mon & Brec canal was established, an act of Parliament permitted 20 MILLION gallons of water to be taken from the River Usk EVERY DAY. Awesome!
After our 'cruise' we made our way over to the Market Tavern Hotel, where Andrew & Sarah had organised lunch for us - it was tricky to keep pace with changes to numbers because, 2 who'd booked to join us for the day didn't, 3 who did join us left after the boat trip, and Sian & Martin were at the canal basin to greet us when we got back after an AA call out established that the problem was a burnt out ignition, and a bit of skulduggery with wires got the car moving again - so in the end, 16 of us sat down and raised the roof with the chat.
Thank you to everyone who supported us, we had a really enjoyable day, and look forward to our next gathering. Yours truly forgot her camera, but Andrea has sent in some which you can find on the gallery. If you were with us on the day & have any photos, please send them to me and I'll add them to the gallery.