This is an exciting and busy period for the Montgomery Canal.


Montgomery Canal Triathlon – 9 May 2015


Over 230 people came to the Welsh border on 9 May to take part in the fourth Montgomery Canal Triathlon and, while they did not have to take part in all three sections, no less than 170 covered the whole 35 miles of the canal.

In addition over 80 members and friends came to help out on the day to assist entrants at locks and road crossings.

The event was started at 8.30am by the Mayor of Newtown, Cllr Rina Clarke who sent entrants on the first leg of the event, cycling 17 miles to Pool Quay, north of Welshpool. This section of the canal towpath is part of the Aberystwyth – Shrewsbury cycle route. Cyclists have to cross the A483 where it obstructs the canal at Dairy Bridge (bridge no. 141), Halfway House Bridge (bridge 136), and at Garthmyl (bridges 132/131), in addition to crossing at Gallowstree Bank bridge, Welshpool (bridge 117) which though rebuilt has no towpath and the zebra crossing has to be used instead!

Bicycles were left at Pool Quay, and participants started on foot to cover the 10½ miles to Morton. This length includes a section of the Offa's Dyke path, and involves crossing the main road at Arddleen and Maerdy bridges (103/102), the Vyrnwy Aqueduct – the most notable structure on the canal – and three minor road crossings in the area of Llanymynech where the towpath crosses into England.

The final 7½ miles from Morton were taken in canoes, passing round three locks at Aston, near Queen's Head, and the Graham Palmer lock, created twenty years ago as part of the restoration of the canal.

Entrants came from Kent, Cornwall, Lincolnshire, Manchester, Birmingham, South Wales and the Cotswolds, and included the Richard Parry, Chief Executive of Canal & River Trust (who was only able to undertake the final, canoe, section this year) and Andrew Stumpf, Head of Wales for Glandŵr Cymru/Canal & River Trust in Wales.

Making Waves with Canoes – Welshpool Wharf, 17 May 2015

The next event was Making Waves with Canoes, offering free taster sessions in canoes, with the generous assistance of Red Ridge Outdoor Centre, mid-Wales, who provided canoes and instructors.

Canoes and instructors were kept busy through the day with over 60 adults and children taking part: the youngest was aged two, and one of the oldest was her grandmother – but we did not ask her age!

Several of those who joined in were so taken with their time on the canal that they came back for a second session.

Coming events

Film Show

Flicks in the Sticks will be showing 'The Bargee' in Welshpool on 8 June: a canal comedy classic with Harry H. Corbett, Ronnie Barker, Eric Sykes, etc. 7pm. Tickets £3.50.

Rafts

Making Waves with Rafts: 13 June, 1pm, Llanymynech SY22 6EA: youth group teams building a raft, decorating it, and attempting to sail it around a designated course on the canal ( – organised by Llanymynech Wharf Visitor Centre).

Walk

Summer Solstice Walk, Carreghofa ( – organised by Friends of the Montgomery Canal), 21 June – starting from Carreghofa Locks SY22 6LF, 11am, the walk includes the Vyrnwy Aqueduct, and visits the weir on the River Tanat which feeds the canal – possibly the first time enthusiasts have had the opportunity to do so. No charge.

Coracles

Making Waves with Coracles, 27 June –

Welshpool was once an important centre for coracles, and among the many types of the craft there was a style of coracle unique to Welshpool. Now coracles are returning for a two-part regatta on the Montgomery Canal.

Morning Regatta – Coracle racing

Teams of four from local clubs, groups and businesses will race in relays using matched coracles provided by the organisers. The winning team will represent Wales in the World Coracle Championships at Shrewsbury in September.

There will be a – short! – practice session before racing starts.

We are keen to recruit teams for the event.

This event and the World Championships are important fund-raising events for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Afternoon Regatta

The afternoon's events are organised with the support of the Coracle Society and a strong contingent from Ironbridge, where a long tradition of coracle building has been maintained and which will attract a wide range of traditional coracles. There will be demonstrations - including a demonstration of the newly-revived Welshpool coracle - and a variety of events open to novices and experienced coraclers.

Admission to Making Waves with Coracles is free to all and there will be a spectacular view from both sides of the canal of the thrills and likely spills in the fiercely contested races and team games.

Festival

Making Waves in Welshpool The Welsh Waterway Festival, 4/5 July.

Motor, steam, electric and model boats are coming to the Montgomery Canal to bring colour to Welshpool for a weekend of activity and entertainment – stalls and demonstrations, boat trips, competitions, canoes, fishing, music, morris dancers and street theatre with Wild over Waterways (WoW) activities for children. There will be an afternoon procession of decorated boats through Welshpool, repeated at twilight with illuminations and music.

Welshpool Ramblers will be contributing to the Festival with two walks, starting at 11.30am from the Tourist Information Office, near the Festival site, and featuring the canal and the attractive countryside around Welshpool and designed to appeal to visitors and local residents alike.

Public meeting

Finally,the Montgomery Canal Forum on 6th July (Assembly Room, Welshpool Town Hall, 2pm, free) will be an opportunity to learn more about the Montgomery Canal and plans for its future. Presentations will include the coming bid to Heritage Lottery Fund to extend the navigable section of the canal and studies by undergraduate and post-graduate students from Liverpool university who have been developing a vision of what the Montgomery Canal could be like in fifteen years' time.

Michael Limbrey, Chairman of the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust said, “This summer's events demonstrate the value of the Montgomery Canal with activities on the water and along the towpath, highlighting the canal and its contribution to the area.

"Years ago the Montgomery Canal was derelict and it wasn't even easy to get to Llangollen by canal. Today the canals of the North Wales border include the World Heritage Site bringing visitors and boaters from far and wide and the Montgomery Canal too is coming back to life.

"The Montgomery Canal Triathlon was the best yet! It was a thoroughly good-natured event which brought hundreds of people to the towpath, and many who came from far away stayed here for the weekend. A good number had come back after enjoying the event previously, and others were joining for the first time, but saying they would come again.

"For me the highlight was the Tanat Valley bus with an illuminated sign on its destination screen saying, 'The 4th Montgomery Canal Triathlon'.

"Last weekend's event, Making Waves with Canoes, was a great opportunity for children and families to try out canoes. The canal is a very safe environment for canoeing and is regularly used in this way with the canoes of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal at Canal Central, Maesbury, being very popular.

"Our coming events will provide more activity on the Montgomery Canal.

"Coracle racing will be very exciting and we are looking for teams of four to take up the challenge of relay races across the canal and back again. I am not sure that handling a coracle will be as easy as it looks in the hands of someone with experience! We are expecting thrills and spills!

"We are encouraging everyone to have a go on the water either in novice events or just for fun in coracles provided. Join us for an unusual and exciting day, with coracle displays and other attractions.

"Spectators will be able to see everything from either side of the canal or from the bridges which cross it.

"The Welsh Waterway Festival, Making Waves in Welshpool, will be the culmination of our Making Waves programme. Boats are already booked in to fill the mooring pontoons at Welshpool Wharf, and we have a crowded programme of activities, especially for children, with entertainment through both days.

"For me, the highlight of the Festival will be Saturday's processions of boats, one in the afternoon and the other with the boats decorated with lights as they parade through Welshpool at twilight.

"These events celebrate the canal and its story, and through them we are able to tell a wider audience about Welshpool and the area. We all look forward to the day when visitors will be able to reach here by boat from London, Lincoln or York, to discover the delights of Montgomeryshire.”


Full details of these events can be found on www.MakingWaves2015.co.uk.

Making Waves is promoted by the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust and supported by the Friends of the Montgomery Canal, and the Inland Waterways Association’s Shrewsbury, District & North Wales branch.

… END ...

For further information...

Michael Limbrey          26 Bentley Drive, Oswestry SY11 1TQ             michael@limbrey.net  01691 654081




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