Although only seven miles of this incredibly beautiful and remote canal is currently navigable, a narrowboat holiday along The Monty is a must for wildlife enthusiasts.
Once derelict, the Montgomery Canal reverted back to nature so well that much of it has become a haven for rare plants and animals and some sections have been designated Sights of Special Scientific Importance (SSSIs).
Authorised by an act of parliament in 1794, the canal runs for 38 miles from its junction with the Llangollen at Frankton Locks near Ellesmere in Shropshire to Newtown in Montgomeryshire, now part of Powys.
While most canals could generate enough income from the cargo they carried to be financially viable, the Montgomery Canal was built to transport lime for agricultural purposes. Local landowners and promoters of the canal hoped to achieve a return on their investment through greater crop yields, rather than the more usual share dividends.
Partly because of the late arrival of railways in the area, the canal remained profitable until after the First World War. But from then it became increasingly run down and was sadly officially abandoned in 1944.
Thanks to the dogged restoration efforts of the Shropshire Union Canal Society, boaters can now travel through six locks as far as Queens Head, passing over the new single span Perry Aqueduct.
Volunteer working parties continue to work towards full restoration for boats but the stretch already opened has much to offer the canal boat holiday-maker.
The route is incredibly quiet and rural and access to the canal is controlled by the lock keeper at Welsh Frankton, allowing only a limited number of boats on the length at any one time. This helps to create a delicate balance between the needs of a navigation built for boats with the important ecology that is now established there.
A further isolated 17 mile section is usable through Welshpool and canoeists can access almost the entire canal, apart from the three mile dry section between Redwith Bridge and Llaymynech. Thankfully, the towpath runs the full length, giving full access to walkers.
Just some of the waterways’ highlights include: historic warehouses at Rednal and Queens Head; pubs, restaurants, bike and canoe hire at the pretty village of Maesbury Marsh; the nature reserves at Aston Top Lock; angling at Gronwen; the stone built Vyrnwyn Aqueduct; and the market town of Welshpool, with its medieval timber castle.
Our nearest canal boat hire bases are at Blackwater Meadow near Ellesmere in Shropshire and at Chirk in Wrexham, both on the Llangollen Canal.