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Montgomery Canal

Wildlife thrives along the Montgomery Canal. It's one of the most important canals in the country for nature, much of it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Welsh section is of international importance, designated a Special Area of Conservation for its aquatic plants.

Montgomery Canal

LengthPart 1: 7 miles from Frankton to Gronwyn Wharf Part 2: 12 miles between Arddleen to Berriew 
Locks  8 locks in part 1     11 locks in part 2

Maximum boat dimensions

Length21.95m 72ft
Width2.13m 7ft
Draught1.2m 3ft 11''
Headroom1.83m 6ft

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Site of special scientific interest

One of several SSSis around our waterways, the 'Monty' (as that canal is known locally) is the best location in the world for floating water plantain. Otters and water voles have also been spotted along its length. Several nature reserves border the canal, filled with wildflowers and insects, including dragonflies and damselflies.

Restoring the full 'Monty'

While the canal was closed to boats for many years, it is now being reborn as a cruiseway through the picturesque Welsh Marches. One restored section connects to the Llangollen Canal, while the other is only accessible by a slipway at Welshpool. Work continues to join the two sections through volunteers and the work of the restoration partnership. See their restoration stratergy here.

Walking or cycling along the towpath is an excellent way to experience the peace and tranquility of this rural canal. The canal towpath has recently been resurfaced between Newtown and Welshpool and work continues to the border at Llanymynech.

This is also a popular canal for canoeing – paddling quietly through peaceful green surroundings is a great way to spot wildlife. Here's more information about trailable and portable boat launching locations on the Montgomery.

The canal is home to 126 listed structures including the Llanymynech limeworks which includes the rare restored Hoffman Kiln and Chimney, both features of a forgotten industrial past that included quarries, limekilns and woollen industries.

Montgomery Canal Trail

The Montgomery Canal brings wildlife right into the centre of Welshpool and we've devised a fascinating canal trail to help you and your family make the most of this exciting waterway.

Explore the trail

The history

The canal from Frankton Junction on the Llangollen Canal, though Welshpool to Newtown was built to carry limestone quarried at Llanymynech to canalside kilns. There it was heated with coal from Chirk or the Oswestry area to create quicklime for spreading on fields to improve their yield of crops — and so increase the rental income to the landowners.

The section from the junction to Carreghofa, just south of Llanymynech, was built by the Ellesmere Canal in the mid 1790s. The rest of it was the independent Montgomeryshire Canal which opened from Carreghofa to Garthmyl in 1797, but by then had exhausted its money. The final six miles into Newtown was separately financed under an Act of 1815, and opened in 1819.

Carrying freight

Two-thirds of the traffic was limestone and its associated coal; other significant cargoes included timber, building stone and slates. With the more depressed state of agriculture in the second half of the 19th century, together with the increasing use of alternative fertilisers, traffic diminished, and by 1870 was barely covering the cost of maintenance. By then part of the Shropshire Union, the canal struggled on until 1936, when a breach near the aqueduct of the River Perry gave the opportunity to negotiate its closure. The one regular user was paid not to object, and closure was formalised in an Act of 1944.

The section north of Llanymynech dried out, but much of the rest was an integral part of the local land drainage so no active steps were taken to fill it in and sell the land. A plan in the late 1960s to use the line of the canal at Welshpool for a bypass led to well-organised protests and proposals for the canal's restoration. The inspector at the public inquiry recommended that the canal be retained ‘as an important local amenity'. Over the next three decades the eleven mile section through Welshpool was restored with the active support of the Prince's of Wales Committee. At the northern end, Frankton Locks were reopened in 1987, the section to Queens Head in 1996 and to Gronwen in 2003.

photo of a location on the canals
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