This tranquil and very rural stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon canal from Talybont-on-Usk to Brecon clings to the beautiful Usk Valley. It’s a location that rewards walkers, cyclists and boaters with glimpses of herons and great-crested grebes, remnants of historic lime kilns and awe-inspiring views of Pen-y-fan – the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons. We asked: what’s brought you to this stretch of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal?
Ben Roberts and Shane Minehane, from Oxfordshire
We’re mountain biking The Gap, a 24-mile loop that goes up towards Pen-y-fan then down to Brecon and back to Talybont-on-Usk along the Taff Trail. This area’s really established for mountain biking. There’s lots of hills and mountains for us to tackle. We’re not very familiar with this canal but we know it’s stunning, and we hope it’s that way to Brecon along the towpath!
The Neath Walking Club
There’s 15 of us from Neath Walking Club today and we’re going to walk nine miles, starting from here in Talybont-on-Usk and along the towpath. We’ve got our packed lunches and flasks of tea and coffee so we’re all set. We just love it here. The countryside here is beautiful and you get a real feel of the industrial heritage with the lime kilns nearby. Sorry we can’t chat for too long – we’d better catch up with the rest of our group!
Cor Warffemius, from Holland
My wife and I are here on holiday. We’ve rented a narrowboat. It’s our first time trying anything like this. It’s so peaceful and quiet here, and the landscape is very different to back home. The canals in Holland are a lot wider and straighter than this. We’ve moored up here at Talybont-on-Usk to get some lunch at a pub.
Graham Bourton, from Powys
I live nearby and I walk my dog regularly along this canal. I enjoy the tranquility and the scenery but the only problem I find is that cyclists go a bit too fast along the towpath, and many of them don’t give way to walkers, which they should do! Otherwise, yes, I do love this stretch of canal. I moved back here recently after quite a while away and I’m so glad to be back. It’s pretty special, isn’t it?
Margaret and Charles Farrow, from Chepstow; Sian Farrow and Richard Igglesden, from London
We hired our narrowboat in Llanfoist and we’re heading up to Brecon and back. The stretch leading up to Talybont-on-Usk is particularly beautiful and feels really wild and remote. We’ve noticed this canal isn’t as busy as other canals on the network, which are often teeming with boats this time of year. Our boat is a bit longer than we’re used to, so it’s been trick to navigate, especially on such a winding canal like this!
Steve, Christine and Kieran Bailey, from Shropshire
We camped last night in Pencelli and are on a family bike ride along the towpath today. Our son Kieran only recently learned how to ride a bike and he cycled 10 miles yesterday! It’s perfect for kids to ride along the towpath because it’s nice and flat. The scenery is gorgeous, especially with the River Usk flowing close by, and we saw a pair of swans with their cygnets on the canal not so long ago. Kieran got a bit too close and they gave him a warning hiss!
Sue Mumford, from Kent
I’m staying in a holiday cottage nearby, with eleven members of my family. We had no idea there was a canal on our doorstep until we arrived, which was a huge bonus for me because I love canals. I love the peace, the history, the diversity and the wildlife, and this towpath is in superb condition. I used to own a share in a narrowboat so it’s bringing it all back, being here. Maybe one day I’ll own my own boat, if I win the lottery.
Jo Wittevrongel and Jacqueline Wylock, from Belgium
We’re exploring the Brecon Beacons for two weeks. We first discovered this area when we saw it featured in a BBC programme called Secret Britain. After watching that, we knew we had to come here, because it’s so different to the flat landscape back home. We love this canal and it’s in a lot better condition than the canals in Belgium. Plus it’s a nice, easy walk along the tow path compared to Fan-y-Big, which we climbed yesterday.
We drove through the Brecon Beacons last year and it struck us as such a beautiful area. We’ve always wanted to have a canal boat holiday, so why not combine the two? Last night we moored up in a really quiet, tranquil place and were woken by the dawn chorus this morning, which was magical. It was a bit scary operating the electric bridge in Talybont though, because you have to stop road traffic, but we managed it in the end.
Declan and Danielle Dakin-Weston, from Cardiff
We’re cycling 55 miles along the Taff Trail from Brecon to Cardiff to raise money for Cancer Research. I’ve recently recovered from bowel cancer so it feels great to cycle to be out in the clean, open air in proper countryside, and catch sight of lovely cottages on the canal-side. We’ve nearly head-butted a couple of low bridges, mind.
Jane Ogden and Clint Manning, from Gloucestershire
I surprised Jane with a weekend break in the Brecon Beacons for her birthday. I chose this area because it’s quiet and secluded. We’re big countryside lovers. We love walking, which is why we’re here today. Jane’s been ill recently and her fitness levels have dropped, so a walk along the towpath is perfect for her. We’re thinking of renting a boat in Brecon, too, so we can explore more of the canal.
Ken and Judy Turner, from the Black Country
We cruised the entire length of the Mon & Brec a few years ago and we’ve come to do it again. We love how the canal clings to the mountainside all the way. There’s plenty of wildlife, too. We saw a huge heron take off yesterday. It’s great to get away from the rat race, and our dogs Jake and Oliver love it on the boat.