20 Aber­gavenny

Evergreen - - Contents - JOHN GREEVES

Canalathon, in­volv­ing ca­noe­ing, cy­cling and run­ning to cover the 35mile canal course, takes place ev­ery Septem­ber.

Fur­ther south is Llang­y­nidr, a vil­lage in Powys about nine miles south- east of Bre­con, known for its scenic five locks, wildlife and pic­nic ar­eas and, of course, its canal- side inn. The Green Man Fes­ti­val takes place in the neigh­bour­ing Glan Usk Es­tate in Au­gust, an event that at­tracts vis­i­tors from all over Bri­tain.

At Llan­gat­tock you can view the im­pres­sive lime kilns with the new pic­nic area on top of­fer­ing views of the sur­round­ing hills and moun­tains and look out for the gi­gan­tic red­wood tree near bridge 113. Crick­how­ell is an en­chant­ing mar­ket town nestling in the beau­ti­ful Usk Val­ley to the south of the Black Moun­tains, the east­ern range of the Bre­con Bea­cons Na­tional Park and is well worth a visit. A set­tle­ment has ex­isted here since the Iron Age, when set­tlers built a fort on top of Crug Hy­wel also known as Table Moun­tain. The town has in­de­pen­dent shops, his­toric inns, the re­mains of a Nor­man cas­tle and what is re­puted to be the long­est stone bridge in Wales. In spring there is a Walk­ing Fes­ti­val and an Art Trail and in au­tumn a Lit­er­ary Fes­ti­val. Pony trekking is avail­able at the nearby River­side Rid­ing Cen­tre.

Lo­cated in the heart of the Bre­con Bea­cons Na­tional Park, Govilon

is a small Welsh vil­lage sit­u­ated be­tween Llan­foist and Gil­w­ern. Lo­cal ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude walk­ing, cy­cling, rid­ing, fish­ing, hang glid­ing, pony trekking, ca­noe­ing, climbing and cav­ing. From the ar­du­ous to the se­date, all are within easy reach of Govilon.

Aber­gavenny is con­sid­ered to be the gate­way to Wales. Life be­gan in this mar­ket town as a Ro­man fort, then the Nor­mans added a cas­tle. St. Mary’s Pri­ory Church, for­merly a Bene­dic­tine Pri­ory and now over 1,000 years old, has been de­scribed as the West­min­ster Abbey of Wales. It at­tracts many vis­i­tors who come to view the his­toric mon­u­ments and me­dieval carv­ings. The town has a bustling high street, an in­ter­nal mar­ket and in­de­pen­dent shops. There is a Cy­cling Fes­ti­val in July and a Food Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber that has grown in pop­u­lar­ity. Goytre means “home in the wood” and has an im­pres­sive wharf and is a nat­u­ral stop­ping point on your jour­ney. The wharf has a her­itage and ac­tiv­ity cen­tre, lime kilns, a cafe and a chil­dren’s play area. Once fa­mous for its rugby front row, Pon­ty­pool of­fers a shop­ping cen­tre, leisure cen­tre with a swim­ming pool, a dry ski slope and a mu­seum.

Many vis­i­tor at­trac­tions also ex­ist on the un­nav­i­ga­ble stretch of the canal. This cur­rently runs from its ter­mi­nus at Five Locks, Pont­newydd to New­port and from the Crum­lin Arm down to the Four­teen Locks at Roger­stone. Tow paths are still well used by walk­ers and cy­clists alike.

Wher­ever you travel on the canal there’s al­ways plenty to see and do. Re­cently, ac­tors Prunella Scales and Ti­mothy West filmed their jour­ney on the Mon­mouthshire and Bre­con for the Chan­nel 4 se­ries Great Canal Jour­neys. It was meant to be a big se­cret, but news was soon out. At jour­ney’s end, the canal basin next to Bre­con’s The­atre Brychein­iog, they were greeted and ser­e­naded by the Aber­honddu Male Voice Choir. Ap­par­ently, just be­fore they de­parted that night, they let slip that the Mon­mouthshire and Bre­con Canal was one of the most beau­ti­ful jour­neys they had ever un­der­taken. Who amongst us would want to dis­agree?

NIGEL FORSTER

The land­scape around the mar­ket town of Aber­gavenny.

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