Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, Fourteen Locks, Saturday 28 July

Lead: Carroll and Mary

I know we need the rain, but did the BBC weather forecast have to be so gloomy and depressing?

Many members had let me know that they were unable to come today so we were not surprised that there were only 5 of us, four old timers and a new member, Jackie, to whom we extend a warm welcome and hope you will join us on more walks to come.

However, undaunted by the small number, we departed in one car for Newport.

I knew there was going to be trouble when Mary, having done her Flight Attendant duties of ensuring that the backseat passengers were safely strapped in, immediately made the observation ‘Petticoat Government’, highlighting the fact that all my passengers were of the female variety. I did point out that the pilot was still the most important person!!

We soon ran out of the rain and by the time we arrived at the 14 Locks Visitors’ Centre, it was dry and the sun was shining.

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After a coffee and comfort stop in the cafe, during which time we had the first shower of rain, we headed on the downhill towpath past the 14 Locks of the ‘Cefn Flight’ before crossing under the M4 Motorway. The first 5 locks of the Cefn Flight have been fully restored, with the aid of Heritage Lottery Grants, but there is still a lot of work to be done but very little money is available to continue the restoration.

Having crossed under the M4 we continued on our way, still downhill, towards Newport and the other branch of the canal which eventually leads to Brecon (about a 38 mile walk away). The downside of this section of the walk was the continuous noise of traffic on the M4.

Just before the Motorway tunnels we again crossed under the M4 and walked a short distance along the canal leading to Brecon before stopping at a lock by a bridge where we stopped for lunch. The skies darkened towards the end of our lunch and Liz decided to put on her waterproof trousers.

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This is where the cabaret began because she suddenly realised that she had put them on back to front. She turned to me and, showing the excess material in front, commented that it would make a good photo. I declined on the grounds that they looked like Victor Sylvester trousers (a phrase well known in Air Force circles but which I will let you work out for yourselves!!) In an attempt to remove them she managed to jam the zip on one leg. Mary went to her aid and, between them, managed to free the zip.

We crossed to the other side of the canal for the compulsory photograph. At this point we decided not the risk the untried route and so we backtracked to cross under the M4 and begin the walk back towards the start. About halfway along the route we again crossed under the M4 to pick up the path that Mary and I found on our check walk. We soon ran into potential trouble when we reached an old farm called Wern-ddu which now appears to be a yuppy commune. Despite passing through the buildings when we did our check walk, a young fellow appeared and informed us that there was no public footpath through their property and the wood for which we were heading. After persuading him that the farmer had given us permission to walk up his field and through the wood he reluctantly let us pass; the women of the commune watching us suspiciously through their kitchen windows as we passed

The walk now continued without further incident and passed through Wern-ddu wood, in front of the Tredegar Park Golf Course clubhouse, between the two Ynysfro reservoirs and back to the Visitors Centre.

Apart from two short showers we had a mainly dry walk.

Thanks to those who joined us for the walk. I think everyone enjoyed it.

Next time we’ll try and find the new path so that we can have a circular walk.