This really is a totally different canal from the Llangollen Canal and, to cruise its length, is akin to turning off the motorway and taking to the country lanes instead.
Popularly known as The Monty the Montgomery Canal is often a forgotten canal as narrow boats on the Llangollen canal rush past the junction at Welsh Frankton in their narrow boats with hardly a second glance at the white signpost and its finger pointing to the top lock. The Montgomery Canal had been abandoned after a breach in 1936 having previously suffered poor ground problems and leaks. It decayed, unnoticed and abandoned, until those who cared, backed by the Inland Waterways Association, persuaded British Waterways that The Montgomery Canal could be saved for future generations and Frankton Locks were restored in 1987 but stood idle for almost 10 years.
It has been a long journey with several setbacks along the way and every inch has been a struggle and a triumph. The Montgomery Canal now has a relatively short stretch of 7 miles navigable by canal boat with several formidable obstacles still to overcome. Hope continues that one day The Montgomery Canal will become one again and the whole length to Welshpool, and perhaps Newtown beyond, will be available for canal boats to cruise. This really is a totally different canal from the Llangollen Canal and, to cruise its length whilst on your canal narrow boat holiday is akin to turning off the motorway and taking to the country lanes instead.
The Welsh Frankton Locks are manned and only open on designated hours with advance booking being required. If Colin, the award winning lock keeper, is your guide listen and enjoy his many tales as he is a real character of the waterways.
At once you will be struck by the clarity of the canal water beneath your narrow boat and the flora and fauna around you. The whole of this length of canal is an area of special scientific interest and canal boat passages are strictly limited to preserve the delicate balance of the ecology created by nature reserves both offline and online. The short stop lock beyond the flight, The Graham Palmer Lock, is a new one and commemorates the man who, more than most, was responsible for the initial Welshpool Big Dig that was the first move to restore the canal from the south. As you take your narrow boat further, the nextÂ highlight is the small Perry Aqueduct with canal moorings either side. A further fine restoration can be seen at Rednal Wharf with its canal side brick and timber building, a former packet terminal that pops into view as you pass beneath the Shrewsbury to Chester railway viaduct.
Most canal narrow boats take the opportunity to stop at The Queens Head where the pub across the way serves excellent food and good beer. Beyond lie the 3 Aston locks as you descend to the, so far, last navigable level that terminates in a winding hole (turning point) beyond Maesbury Marsh.
The Montgomery Canal becomes even more rural on this stretch with its timeless agricultural landscape reaching across to the Berwyn and Breidden Hills. As you lean on your tiller and soak up the atmosphere you will surely dream of less frantic days. The Navigation Inn, right on the waterside, beckons and with mooring and facilities at hand it is very tempting to stop your narrow boat and go no further. However, one last push is all that is needed before the turning point is reached and the Navigation Inn is no more than 10 minutes walk away from the canal boat moorings near the very good Post Office stores with its local food, ales and cafe.
More Informative Canal Guides, Route Maps and DVD's can be purchased from the Waterway Routes website.