Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Fourteen Locks to Cwmbran

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Fourteen Locks to Cwmbran

Two canals used to run north and west from Newport, one to Pontypool and one to Newbridge. Both have fallen into disrepair but the towpaths are still largely intact from Crosskeys in the west past the Fourteen Locks and alongside the M4 to Barrack Hill on the edge of Newport then north to the outskirts of Cwmbran.

For such a built-up area the canal represents a fine green corridor with an excellent wide, gravel towpath and views of hills rising to over 1000 ft at its western end.

The first 11-mile section of the canal was built  between 1792 and 1796 to connect Newport to Pontnewydd (north of Pontypool). The other branch was soon added, from Malpas to Crumlin (via Risca and Crosskeys). The canal was designed to connect with a large network of tramways that were built to transport limestone, coal and iron ore.

The rest of the canal, from Pontypool to Brecon, was opened in 1812. As so often happened, the canals were superseded by the railways and even by 1850 the canal network was in decline. In 1962 the network was abandoned and parts were filled in. Restoration of the section north of Pontypool has made it possible to navigate north from here to Brecon.

Natural attractions:

  • Views of hills rising to 1000ft

Visitor attractions:

  • Fourteen Locks Visitor Centre

Route submitted by: Sustrans


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Key route details


South Wales Valleys


6 miles

Time needed:

1 hours






Dust / Gravel

NCN Route:



Fourteen Locks Visitor Centre near M4 Junction 27



Cycle hire:

The nearest are in Cardiff


Train station at Newport

Maps and guides:

nn4bCeltic Trail - East NN4B £6.99
ctguideCeltic Trail Guidebook – £6.99
ctguideCeltic Trail Leaflet – Free PDF

Links with:

Through Cwmbran to the Pontypool & Blaenavon railway path (National Route 492)

Through Risca and Crosskeys to Sirhowy Valley (National Route 47)

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