So far on this trip most of my walking has started from, or close to the Caravan Motorhome Club site in Pandy. Today I am going to drive a short distance to Llanfoist and start my walk from a car park popular with walkers (Grid Reference SO286133).
From the car park I cross the B4246 and head up Church Lane, as the name suggests this passes the parish church of St Faith’s and continues uphill on a narrow tarmac road.
This road eventually turns into a track and reaches a tunnel under the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, just before the tunnel are steps that I take to reach the canal towpath.
I am joining the canal at the Llanfoist Wharf, it is a cracking spot. I will be returning here towards the end of my walk so don’t linger here now.
Turning left along the towpath I head off. The canal to my right is a tranquil spot and there is a steep embankment to my left.
Much of this 35-mile canal was constructed in the 1790’s but it was not until 1812 that all the work to link Brecon with Newport was completed.
I am following the towpath for about three miles so there is no need to look at the map, I can just enjoy the beauty of the surroundings.
I enjoy walking along canal towpaths as they provide an insight into our industrial past. Peaceful and quiet today in the past this area would have been bustling with activity as it was a key link between Newport Docks and the coalmines and iron works in the surrounding valleys.
The extensive networks of horse drawn tramways linking the canal to the mines and ironworks meant that traffic on the canal increased. In 1809 150,000 tons of coal was transported. But like canals all around Britain the arrival of the steam railway signalled its demise. By the mid 1800’s some of the branches off the main canal were being closed, over the next 100 years further sections closed down and in 1962 it was formally abandoned.
However its closure was short lived and within two years work on restoration had commenced and now most of the 35 miles are navigable.
On reaching bridge number 85 I leave the towpath and cross the bridge to join a track heading uphill.
This track leads to a minor road where I turn right and continue uphill for the next two miles. This is a very quiet lane and I meet only one car as I walk the steady uphill haul.
After passing, a gate besides a cattle grid I continue besides the road until I reach a footpath sign on the right besides a spring. A drinking trough has been formed here and Crosby quenches his thirst.
My route now heads north on a track through heather.
Over the brow of the hill I can see my target point; the Cefn y Galchen radio and TV masts.
On reaching the masts I turn left on to a minor road and then very quickly right into a car parking area. From here I head in a northerly direction along the clear path. Soon I reach a rocky outcrop with a plaque to the show jumping horse Foxhunter.
The track now continues towards the summit of Blorenge, as I head steadily upwards, low cloud descends and for a while visibility is poor, but as I near the Ordnance Survey trig pillar it improves. This is the 166th trig I have bagged.
I am sure that on a clear day there are impressive views from here, I am 1,841 feet above sea level, but today the low cloud keeps rolling in and I can see very little.
I leave the trig by following a path in a westerly direction.
I descend gradually to reach the remains of the tramway; built in 1796 this linked a limestone quarry on the north of the mountain with ironworks at nearby Blaenavon.
I turn left along the tramway and stay with it until I reach a stone marker on the right signalling the route to Govilon and Llanfoist, which I follow.
This path descends through the bracken to reach a crossing of paths I ignore the turning to the right and left, instead continuing on to a gate by the edge of recently cleared forestry land. The route is easy to follow downhill towards the B4246.
I cross the road and join a track on the opposite side signposted to Govilon. Initially the track descends steeply but levels out as it nears a minor road.
At the road I turn right walking down towards Govilon, at a fork I turn left and stay with the road to reach a T-junction. Here I turn right and continue steadily downhill to join the canal turning right along the towpath. I soon pass the Govilon Marina, it is clear this is a popular canal.
Passing under a bridge I reach Govilon Wharf, the information board explains that this busy wharf was the connection between two tramways. One brought coal and pig iron for transport to the docks and the other took coal and limestone to Hereford. Now it appears to be an idyllic spot.
I stay on the towpath enjoying the flat walking after my ascent and descent of Blorenge, the scenery is stunning. The restoration of canals not only opens up the waterways to pleasure cruisers, but also ensures the maintenance of towpaths for walkers, they are a wonderful resource.
After just over a mile and half on the towpath I reach Llanfoist Wharf, this was the point where I joined the canal earlier. This wharf is another tranquil spot and belies its busy industrial past, apparently in 1845 800,000 tons of cargo passed through this wharf. The Wharf Master’s house stands opposite.
My route from here leaves the towpath down the steps to Church Lane where I head back downhill towards Llanfoist. I head past the church of St Faith’s with its interesting external bells and return to the car park.
I have walked just over 13 miles and ascended over 2,500 feet, so a decent walk with many interesting things to see along the way. I make a mental note to return to walk the Blorenge on a clear day so I can fully appreciate the views.
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL13 – Brecon Beacons National Park Eastern Area
16th September 2019
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2019)