Just a few miles away from the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Blaenavon is a town with a rich industrial history and culture, and breath-taking scenery.It was a cradle of the Industrial Revolution, famed for its ironmaking and coal production.The town’s historic attractions and landscape earned it World Heritage Site status from UNESCO, putting it alongside attractions such as the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s well worth a visit during your narrowboat holiday. Here are just six reasons why:
Walk in the footsteps of generations of miners at the National Coal Museum, Big Pit. The site was a working coal mine for 100 years, between 1880 and 1980.Once, South Wales was littered with pithead wheels serving working deep mines and winching the miners down to the coalface in a cage. During the height of production, its coal was shipped to South America and in 1923, it employed 1,399 men. By the time of its closure as a working pit, the workforce was just over 250.Now, Big Pit’s iconic structure is one of a handful of pit wheels left standing across the UK. It opened as a mining museum in 1983 and in 1995, several of the buildings were given Grade II listed status. In 2005, it won the £100,000 Gulbenkian Prize for the UK museum or gallery with a track record of excellence, imagination, and innovation. Big Pit now attracts more than 140,000 visitors every year. You can take an evocative journey 300 feet underground guided by former miners who can describe the conditions in which they and their forefathers worked. There are also interactive displays and exhibitions. Entry is free and Big Pit is suitable for people of all ages. Find out more about the Big Pit Museum
Wander around the best-preserved 18th Century ironworks in the world. The site has the best-preserved blast furnace complex of its type and era – one of the most important relics to have survived from the start of the Industrial Revolution. Iron production began in 1789, and Blaenavon became one of the most important iron-producing towns in the world by the early 19th Century. There’s also a fascinating glimpse into the lives of workers thanks to the reconstructed houses in Stack Square and Engine Row, and the reconstructed company shop.Admission is free. Find out more about Blaenavon Ironworks
Famed writer Alexander Cordell set his classic novel, Rape of the Fair Country in and around Blaenavon and lived for a significant part of his life in Abergavenny. In 1985, a guide to walks featured in Rape of the Fair Country was published by the author Chris Barber and it became popular with visitors and local walkers. This takes in Blaenavon, Abergavenny, and Brynmawr, and gives walkers delightful views and an insight into the area’s historic past. Other Cordell trails in Merthyr, Aberdare, and Neath, followed. Find out more about Alexander Cordell and the trail.
Take a trip on the highest preserved railway line in Wales.The volunteer-run railway boasts steam engines, vintage carriages, and its line runs through impressive scenery. It also stages steam galas, special ghost trains at Halloween, and Santa specials at Christmas. Find out more about the The Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway.
Blaenavon has become home to some of the area’s best food producers. If you’re a cheese aficionado, visit Blaenafon Cheddar’s shop. Its specialist, hand-made cheeses are sought after by restaurants, hotels, delicatessens, and chefs.Pwll Mawr Cheddar is even matured 300 feet below ground in Big Pit. Find out more about Pwll Mawr Chedder. Rhymney Brewery is famed for its real ales – and you can try them on a trip to its visitor centre in Blaenavon. You’ll also find out how your pint is brewed. Find out more about Rhymney Brewery.
This distinctive mountain is a haven for walkers and paragliders. Its heather-covered top has a variety of walks, some taking in the grave of the famous showjumping horse, Foxhunter.At its summit, you’ll see the town of Abergavenny below to the east, the nearby Sugarloaf and Skirrid mountains, and Blaenavon to the west.
Why not combine sightseeing with the sheer relaxation of a break on board a narrowboat? There is access to public transport to Blaenavon from the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and our base in Gilwern.
Call us on 01873 830240 to book your Road House narrowboat. Check our narrowboat holidays availability and prices.