Brecon to Pencelli
A wonderful watery walk.
Take a gentle stroll along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. Once a key industrial route, the canal now offers a serene and scenic pathway through some of the National Park’s prettiest scenery. Brecon is a Walkers are Welcome town.
Need to know
Length: 4½ miles (7km)
Time: Around 2 hours
Start: Brecon Canal Basin (OS map ref: SO 046287)
Finish: Pencelli (OS map ref: SO 092249)
OS maps: Explorer OL12/OL13 (1:25 000 series)
Facilities: Parking, shops, refreshments, toilets and visitor information centre at Brecon. Pub at Pencelli.
Along the way
Brecon Canal Basin
Depending on your perspective, this is either the beginning or the end of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. However you look at it, this vibrant extension of the town centre has brought fresh life to Brecon. You’ll find tasty refreshments to fortify you for your walk, plus information on the canal and its history. The basin is also home to Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon’s buzzing theatre and arts centre.
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
Originally known as the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, the ‘Mon and Brec’ was built between 1797 and 1812. It represents a remarkable feat of engineering, with over 23 miles (37km) of its total 33 miles (53km) being totally flat – quite something considering the mountainous terrain it traverses. Originally linking Brecon with Newport, the canal was used to transport agrarian and industrial produce, including stone and processed lime from local quarries to the Bristol Channel. It had drifted into disrepair by the 1930s but was restored and reopened between Brecon and Pontypool for leisure craft in 1970.
Built around 1800, the aqueduct is an unusual meeting point between the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and the river Usk. The four-arched stone structure carries the canal at a height of 8m over the river’s rushing waters. It’s one of just a few such aqueducts on the canal and offers some lovely views along the Usk valley.
Today, it’s hard to imagine Pencelli as anything more than a sleepy little village. However, the presence of a ruined castle dating back to the 11th century reveals a turbulent past. Before falling into decay some time in the 14th century, the castle changed hands several times as Welsh and English forces jockeyed for power. The remnants of the great square keep can still be seen at the edge of the village.
For a full route description, please click here.