This canal, in my view, is one of the wonders of Wales and, possibly, one of the wonders of the world. It runs for thirty-two miles through idyllic scenery, and generally well away from motorways and roads and industries, through pure Welsh countryside, from Newport in South Wales, to Brecon in the country of Powys. It was built between the years of 1797 and 1812 to carry stone and limestone products from Brecon to Newport for shipment, the roads being in horrendous states at that time, and since about 1970 has been used for purely recreational purposes: fishing, boating, canoeing, and hiking.
Basically, the canal can be divided into three parts. From Newport to Pontypool. From Pontypool to Abergavenny. And from Abergavenny to Brecon. The part I shall concern myself with here is the central section from Pontypool to Abergavenny. I shall do this not only because it is the part I am most familiar with, but because it offers, in my view, not only the most beautiful scenery but also the most wonderful fourteen mile (and almost completely flat) walk on a beautiful spring or summer day.
I would recommend that walkers walk north, from Pontymoile basin, which is just outside Pontypool, and which has a car park and a small café, to Abergavenny, and then get the train or the bus back from Abergavenny to Pontypool. (Please be aware that the canal is a mile or two outside Abergavenny, and you may want to get a taxi into town). Walkers could also do the reverse. However, the first suggestion is best on a sunny day, since, if you start early, the sun will be behind you all the way. Highlights of this walk, include the aqueduct just north of Pontymoile Basin, the idyllic setting of The Star Bridge (bridge number 62), and the boat marina at Goytre Wharf, as well as delights around almost every bend.
Where to eat? The Star Inn is just a short way down the road from The Star Bridge. It offers traditional pub food and a wide range of drinks. Or the restaurant at Goytre Wharf. (You go down the slip path, and under the canal, and up the path on the other side.) My own recommendation, however, would be to take a picnic lunch and have it on one of the historic bridges. This is hard to beat.
There are pictures of this canal in my guidebook: Corners of Wales and Monmouthshire; and also on my now closed travel blog: http://dickgmorris.blogspot.co.uk/ Do this walk before you die. You won’t forget it!
(From an article I published a few years back.)