GUIDE TO THE MONTGOMERY CANAL
(Aberbechan to Welshpool)
NAME OF RIVER: Montgomery Canal.
WHERE IS IT?: Welsh Border through Welshpool. Map.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Aberbechan (3 miles N of Newtown, offload and then find roadside parking on B4389 where road is wider) to Garthmyl halfway between Welshpool and Newtown (roadside parking on B4385); and then Garthmyl (layby W side of A483, or better from B4385 nearer Berriew) to Welshpool (town centre wharf). Return to car possible on Arriva 75, Shrewsbury - Welshpool - Newtown - Llanidloes, two-hourly weekdays.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 miles + 6 miles for the two halves respectively (upper canal much obstructed - see below).
TIME NEEDED: We made this two half-day stages but it could be done in one day quite easily. All put-ins from public towpath. 3 hours + 2 hours.
ACCESS HASSLES: British Waterways - BCU permit covers this.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: This is regulated by locks.
GRADING: Placid canal - below grade 1 even!
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Half a dozen locks to be portaged. Put-ins are not kayak-friendly, with recent restoration work leaving sheet steel banking and consequent sharp edges. Drop-in, not slide-in!
The lower half of the canal is well maintained and there are no other problems.
Upper half of canal (Aberbechan to Berriew) is much obstructed and recommended only to collectors of oddities. In ascending order: much weed especially water lilies: stinging nettles at portages: a couple of fallen trees: and MOST SERIOUSLY, the new alignment of the A483 has made the canal into unnavigable culverts. There are three points including a blind bend where it is necessary to carry your canoe across a fast main road. At Garthmyl the canal is filled in for some 300 yards. Restoration in progress, so some improvement expected but culverts are unlikely to be re-opened.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Pleasant countryside with rural aspect and views to hills. Very few powered boats as the restoration hasn't yet linked this section to other canals.
OTHER NOTES: Section from Welshpool northwards to Llanymynech is maintained and should be similarly pleasant, and could link to Severn navigation at Pool Quay. Interesting small aqueducts at Berriew (River Rhiw) and River Vyrnwy.
Canal Museum on wharfside at Welshpool (closed Wed).
Llanymynech Heritage Centre with Industrial Archaeology on canalside, nature reserve with orchids in quarry above (http://www.llanymynech-hoffman.co.uk/ and http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/countryside.nsf/viewAttachments/DOC-B790AA047FA99E2B80256C8E004330E9/$file/Hoffman%20Hike.pdf)
CONTRIBUTED BY: David and Rhoda Wilson.