Tramroad & Canal Trail
This walk starts at Govilon Wharf Car Park. This is located on the B4246 road to Blaenavon, just below where this road crosses the Momouthshire and Brecon Canal. The route follows the canal, tramroad and railway on the eastern edge of the village. It has links to both the red and green routes enabling the walk to be expanded. The route takes about 60 minutes along all weather surfaces and involves some steeper climbs. A few diversions are highlighted off the route to explore other village treasures.
Govilon Wharf Car Park has a small number of car spaces [ Car Park Sign] and can be busy. Before commencing the walk look across the main road to the Wharehouse and, along the canal side, the wharf of Llanvihangel tramroad. This dates from around 1818. The tram line eventually extended to Hereford.
Start your walk by exiting at the rear of the car park onto the Old Railway Line now a community Cycle path (route 46) and turn left. Walk up past the Govilon Boat Club which was originally the Wharfinger's Office. The boat club was founded in 1963 and was the first inland cruising club on Welsh Canals.
Further along the wharf is Bailey's Warehouse. This was built in 1820 at the end of both the Llanvihangel tramroad and Bailey's tramroad. Baileys tramroad [ photo] opened in 1821 and connected the Nantyglo ironworks to the canal. The tramroads used horse drawn trams (small tucks on rails) to move iron, coal and limestone onto barges bound for Newport and the sea. The route of Bailey's tramroad lies behind the white row of houses on the opposite side of the wharf. It entered the wharf by crossing the canal over what is now the road bridge adjacent to the car park. Our walk will use part of the tramroad route later on.
Above you towers the Blorenge Mountain. Its lower slopes are covered with woodland which provides a carpet of green throughout summer and fantastic autumn colours.
The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny railroad opened in 1862, replacing the tramroads. The line crosses the canal at the end of Govilon Wharf on a skew bridge, with lovely views in both directions. Cross the skew bridge and follow the path to the left, down and under it. Here take a look and the skilful brickwork showing how the bridge was widened when the track was doubled in 1877. class="todo">[ photo]. Walk along the canal towpath towards bridge 98.
The canal, begun in 1797, was originally the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal. Work on the Govilon section was completed in 1805; by 1812 it joined the Monmouthshire Canal, thus connecting Brecon to Newport. [ photo]The canal was taken over by the Great Western Railway in 1880. Commercial traffic declined and the canal closed in the early 1960's, but this section remained intact and was restored and re-opened for navigation in 1970.
To your right you will see Llanwenarth Baptist Chapel, the oldest Baptist Chapel in Wales. The fellowship has met since 1652, with this chapel built in 1695 and enlarged in the 1800's. .[ photo] .
At Bridge 98 [photo] our route links with the Red Trail to explore the village centre. Cross the adjacent footbridge to avoid traffic and turn left to join red trail on the far canal towpath. As you cross look at how the parapets of Bridge 98 sweep outwards at both ends. This is characteristic of 'change-over' bridges which avoided snagging of the tow rope as the towing horse crossed the bridge
Staying on the Purple trail turn left and walk straight up the road towards the Old Railway Crossing and Govilon Station (now a private house).[ photo]. Just before and on the right you will see the Derwen Deg farm house and barn. These are a reminder that Govilon has a rich farming tradition. The farm house and barn are both Grade II listed building and though re-built in the C18th the structure dates from the C17th. Modern properties around the farmhouse act as a reminder that there were open fields here until quite recently.
Govilon Station was the first to be completed on the Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway. Eventually part of the Western Region of British Railways, the line closed in 1958. The station had 7 staff. If you look carefully at the crossing site you can see the remains of railway sleepers still situated on the road. Take a moment to read the Govilon Heritage Board.[ photo]
At the Old Railway Crossing[ photo] our route links with the Green Trail to explore the railway track and country lanes to west of the village. To join this turn right and follow the track of the old railway line alongside the station. .[ ticket]. Pass under Station Road bridge and onwards for 200 metres to the start of the Green Trail at the Forge Car Park.
Staying on the Purple Trail continue up the hill and turn left at the junction at the top. Llanwenarth Ultra Primary School is on your right. This Church School, built in 1861, is now a Field Study Centre, following the opening of the new County Primary School in 1969. The first school in Govilon was The Old British School in Cwm Lane, set up in 1721 by the Baptists as a Charity School. It is now a private house and you can choose to view this by walking along the higher of the two lanes until its end. Retrace your steps to rejoin the Purple Trail.
Carry on along past the school on School Lane.[ photo]. This was the route of Bailey's Tramroad. Houses sprang up along it when the tramroad closed. The road now lies in the tramway cutting as it heads down towards the canal wharf.
Before turning left into Stephen's Cresent look ahead. On the left is the Baptist Manse[ photo], known as Greenfield, built for the Minister of Llanwenarth Baptist Chapel in 1860. To your right are the Greenfield Cottages. These traditional whitewashed homes were built in 1889, and in parts the stone walls are up to a metre thick.
Now walk down into Stephen's Cresent and follow the road to the right until you reach open ground. There are good views here of Govilon wharf. Take the footpath across the grass to rejoin the old railway line above Skew Bridge. Turn right and follow the track down until you arrive back at the Govilon Wharf Car Park.