Canal section set to re-open after major repairs

Free Press Series: Work on the Monmouthshire-Brecon Canal at Llanfoist near Abergavenny. Heavy Machinery at work to help secure the hill side. (4423378) Work on the Monmouthshire-Brecon Canal at Llanfoist near Abergavenny. Heavy Machinery at work to help secure the hill side. (4423378)

A STRETCH of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal is set to reopen to boaters next week following major repairs to the embankment near Abergavenny.

A two-kilometre-stretch of the canal between Llanfoist and Govilon was closed in January after the embankment slipped down the side of the Blorenge Mountain after becoming saturated with water during the torrential rain over Christmas.

Glandwr Cymru, the Canal and River Trust in Wales, which cares for the 200 year-old waterway, began repair work, which is expected to cost nearly £1million last month.

Almost 500 massive pins, each between 10 and 15 metres long have been put in place along the canal side at Llanfoist. While the remainder of the canal has remained open since work began in February, the full length of the waterway will now be navigable by boat for the first time this year from April 25, bringing a welcome boost to the area.

The final pins will be put in place over the coming weeks, together with a mesh to secure them in place. New vegetation will be planted along the embankment to take the place of trees that had to be cut down to allow engineers to carry out the work. It is hoped a 500-metre section of towpath next to the affected stretch will re-open at the end of May, meanwhile walkers, cyclists and other towpath visitors can continue to use the canal thanks to a short diversion around the closed section.

Vince Morgan, operations director at Glandwr Cymru said: “We are delighted to get the full length of the canal re-opened in time for the busiest period of the year. The Mon and Brecon contributes millions to the local economy, so we hope this comes as good news for all those businesses who build their trade around a busy spring and summer.”

“For a 200-year old canal it remains stubbornly robust, but even it had no answer to the unprecedented rainfall we saw over the festive period. The engineering project has been huge, 500 pins effectively nailing the embankment back against the bedrock. But we are pleased with how it has gone so far and delighted that people have continued to visit the canal over the past two months. Now the navigation is open for business again we hope that even more people get down to see what is one of the jewels of the Brecon Beacons.”

Images of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal can also now be seen online after the first Street View images of some of Wales’ most iconic waterways, generated by Google Street View’s latest piece of technology- The Trekker, became available last week.

Gland?r Cymru -the Canal & River Trust in Wales –was the first organisation in the UK to take the Trekker on loan from Google. From August until November last year staff from the charity captured footage of over 130miles of waterways, which will now be available so people can make a virtual trip along a variety of waterway spots.

The Trekker – a four-foot, 40lbs backpack, fitted with a 15-angle lens camera, taking 360 degree pictures every 2.5 seconds – is designed to capture imagery in public locations that the Street View car and Trike can’t typically reach.

The narrow waterway footpaths and bridges proved ideal places to trial the technology, which has also put views of the Grand Canyon, the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, and some of the world’s highest peaks, online.

In all, 20 staff and volunteers from the charity trekked across 72 locations, including the some of the most idyllic, hidden and popular places on the 200-year network of canals and rivers.

The footage is available on Street View and via the Gland?r Cymru’s website canalrivertrust.org.uk

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