Part four of our guide to Paddling the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal starts in Talybont-on-Usk and takes us through the longest tunnel on the canal. Is this the most adventurous section of the canal so far? Or the most peaceful?
Getting on the canal in the picturesque little village of Talybont-on-Usk is as easy as it gets! There is a car park 100m from the towpath and there is plenty of space to launch onto the water.
The first obstacle you get to is the sight of not one, but two pubs with access from the canal side! Now, you have only just started, so paddle responsibly and go to the pub when you return.
Next you will paddle across a short aqueduct over the Caerfanell, flowing from the Talybont Reservoir to the River Usk. There’s a few bridges to pass under, some very old and some clearly newer, and you will paddle past the old lime kilns on the right.
Keep an eye out as you paddle this stretch, just after the disused train bridge can you spot the dinosaur silhouette…?
After a peaceful paddle for about 1km, you will see the first signage giving an idea of the adventure to come…
From here you can see the entrance to the Ashford Tunnel ahead of you. Time to check the tunnel is clear and get your headtorch on. It’s a straight 343m, so you will be able to see if it’s clear all the way through – and the light at the other end! If it is clear, steel yourself, and head in!
You can just about see the light at the end of the tunnel in the distance – or is that a narrowboat? You’d better be sure as the tunnel is only wide enough for one craft!
It is certainly very peaceful as you pass though the tunnel. Have a look around as there are small ‘shelves’ in the walls, some with little surprises in! Don’t forget to look up half way thorough as you can see up the ventilation shaft to the sky above.
What to do if a narrowboat enters the other end of the tunnel.
As long as you haven’t entered the tunnel yet, just wait for them to come through, no problem.
If you have already entered the tunnel, any craft at the other end should wait for you before entering. However, if they don’t, you will need to turn around and retreat. Narrowboats are very difficult to stop, as they have lots of momentum. There is space to turn around, so paddle back the way you came.
Once you have passed through the tunnel, and are blinking in the daylight at the other end, switch off your headtorch to make sure you have enough power if you are making the return journey, and take in the stunning scenery.
The most adventurous part of the paddle is done, now it’s time to relax and take in the peaceful, typically Welsh coutryside of beautiful, rolling hills, lush green fields, and meandering valleys.
The next obstacle you will come to are two locks leading down towards Llangynidr. As you can’t take your paddleboard through the locks, you can turn around and head back to Talybont or take your board out and walk to the start of the next section of the canal.
Watch this space for our blog on the next section of the Momouthshire and Brecon Canal from Llangynidr, heading south west.
If you’d like to book on to a relaxing adventure on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, taking in the Ashford tunnel, click HERE
All our other trips can be found on the Booking Page at www.outdoorexplore.wales/book