Saturday, 19 April 2008

Mon and Brec day four

Tuesday 8th April 2008

Pontymoile Basin to Cross Keys Bridge, Cwmbran (and to Newport)


We woke to a beautifully clear, frosty morning. Had breakfast then left the cottage to drive to Pontymoile Basin. Parked in small car park by the boat tearoom. John had coffee (instant, boo) and we bought three Welsh Cakes (£1). Started walking 10.15am.


Pontymoile toll cottage


Union Bridge 50


a Welshman's canalside home...


Cwmbran Tunnel north portal


Cwmbran Tunnel, south portal


end of navigation, Cross Keys Bridge, Pontnewydd

Spoke to several people on the way. The people are very chatty around here and sometimes it’s hard to get away! It took about an hour to walk to the end of the navigable canal. Went to The Cross Keys pub to use the loo and have coffee and hot chocolate. 50p each. Read and signed the pub’s visitors’ book for people who have got to the end of the navigation. OK, so we walked it, but we felt every bit as entitled to make an entry as all the boaters before us.


new moorings/marina under construction in Sebastopol


I read this first as "to be completed 1983" before realising it's actually Torfaen Borough Council


concrete lock "gates" on the Five Locks flight, Pontnewydd


locks converted to step weirs


just how many bollards do you need along a lock?


when you have common aims there are no boundaries...


...this bench by the derelict Mon and Brec Canal says it all


on an isolated length stands this restored lock. The top gate balance beam hinges out of the way of the towpath


a duck in its element


We continued walking down the unnavigable section. Immediately by the pub are the five locks. The chambers are intact, but have concrete lock ‘gates’. Some of the locks further down have been converted to step weirs. We looked for a pub for lunch in Cwmbran but found nothing suitable or open. It started to rain/hail a little. We ended up having lunch in Sainsbury’s cafe. John had a Mega Brunch; Jan had minced beef hotpot with vegetables. Then John set off on his bike to explore more of the canal while Jan went to the shops in the Cwmbran shopping centre and in the retail park opposite. I cycled by the derelict canal until I lost it amongst main roads. I'd been following Cycle Route 46, but towards the end it didn’t follow the canal. I arrived at River Usk near the railway bridge in Newport. The tide was out, revealing mud banks but I couldn’t see where the canal joined the river. I went to other side of the river by a road bridge and cycled up the left bank of the Usk but still I couldn’t see the canal entrance. So I returned to Sainsbury’s to call Jan on the walkie-talkie to say that I was just on the way to get the car. This I did, losing my way slightly a couple of times. When I got back to the car I had a quick tea and Welsh cake in the Marina Tea Room. Then I picked up Jan and we drove to Newport to see the Transporter Bridge. The notice indicated that the last crossing was at 1800, another ten minutes off, but all was locked up. Looked spectacular though. So we drove back, but went via Blaenafon to see the remains of the iron works. If we’d been earlier we could have looked round the site free. Then to Waitrose to get microwaveable tea, and back to the cottage.


Transporter Bridge, Newport


Transporter Bridge


Transporter Bridge


Blaenafon Iron Works


but back in Newport this looks more like a block of flats

Tomorrow we pack and drive home. Job done.

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