If the Mon & Brec were connected to the main system, it would undoubtedly rival the Llangollen as the most popular canal in the country, such is the beauty of its surroundings. However, its isolated nature saves it from the crowds that flock to that famous Welsh waterway further north and gives it the status of an exclusive club.
Almost entirely ensconced within the Brecon Beacons National Park, the canal runs from Brecon to Pontnewydd near Cwmbran, and offers the most gorgeous views imaginable of the lofty peaks of the Beacons and down into the Usk Valley. There are numerous highlights: Brecon, with its restored basin and canalside theatre; Talybont, a mini-resort for adventure seekers where boaters halt traffic on the minor road crossing the canal in order to raise the electric lift-bridge; the fabulously sited lock flight at Llangynidr; and the wonderful wooded section at Llanfoist, where the trees occasionally thin out to reveal tantalising glimpses of the Sugar Loaf and the other green hills that encircle Abergavenny. Only the most sedentary of visitors can resist the lure of the mountains and a pair of walking boots should be regarded as essential equipment for a trip along this spectacular waterway.
Although the current limit of navigation is at Five Locks Basin at Pontnewydd, on the outskirts of Cwmbran, plans exist to restore the canal down to Newport, but for now you’ll have to explore further on foot.