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Powis Castle and the Montgomery Canal

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Powis Castle and the Montgomery Canal
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 07 Aug 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Powys, Welshpool
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Powis Castle and the Montgomery Canal
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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IMPORTANT NOTE: Dogs are not permitted on this walk as the route crosses a private deer park.

A 4.5 mile circular walk from the town of Welshpool in Powys. The route climbs through a medieval deer park to visit the beautiful red sandstone Powis Castle then crosses pastures to join the towpath of the Montgomery Canal for the return leg back into town. There are glorious views and plenty of wildlife to enjoy.

The walk includes several steady climbs/descents for the first half and then is almost entirely flat for the second half. The majority of the route follows tarmac tracks and surfaced towpaths, but you will need to cross a few pastures which can be fairly muddy after periods of rain. You will be sharing some of the paths with deer, sheep and cattle. There are three stiles on the route plus several gates. The walk crosses the private deer park of Powis Castle which is open from dawn to sunset, but DOGS ARE NOT PERMITTED at any time. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.

Welshpool is located 4 miles from the Wales-England border in the county of Powys. The walk starts and finishes from the Berriew Road pay and display car park. The car park is accessed from the A458 Berriew Road, opposite the old cinema and just south of its junction with Broad Street. The car park costs £2 for four hours (correct August 2014). Approximate post code SY21 7SL.

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Walk Sections

Start to Black Lake
Start to Black Lake

Start point: 52.6587 lat, -3.1493 long
End point: 52.6571 lat, -3.1543 long

A final reminder in case you've missed it in the introduction: DOGS ARE NOT PERMITTED on this route.

Leave the car park back to the road and turn left along Berriew Road. At the crossroads with traffic lights turn left onto Broad Street and follow the pavement along the main shopping street. On the right you will pass the town hall, with its distinctive tall clock tower. Just beyond the town hall, take the first lane on the left, signed for Powis Castle.

Follow this tarmac lane through a small parking area to reach the ornate iron entrance gates for Powis Castle. Go through the gates and you will pass the old stone lodge on the right. You will see the Powis Castle coat of arms on the front of the lodge with the motto Ung Jay Serviray, meaning I Will Serve One Only.

Follow the tarmac lane ahead into the castle estate. A little way along, through the trees to the left you will be able to see Black Lake, Llyn Du. The dark colour of the water, which gives the lake its name, also generates fabulous reflections on the water’s surface.

Black Lake to Red Lane
Black Lake to Red Lane

Start point: 52.6571 lat, -3.1543 long
End point: 52.6456 lat, -3.164 long

Continue ahead through the black gate alongside the cattle grid to enter the medieval deer park. Deer have been at Powis for more than 300 years and today the park is home to red and fallow deer. The red deer were introduced in about 1840 by the Earl of Powis. The towers of Powis Castle soon become visible above the tree line ahead.

As you reach a junction in the road, take the right-hand fork which leads you into the parking area to the right of the castle. Take a moment to appreciate the scale of Powis Castle which is now fully visible on the left. The castle, originally built circa 1200, began life as a medieval fortress of Welsh princes. Over the following centuries it was transformed into a richly decorated baroque castle with opulent interiors housing art and furniture collections. The 300 year old gardens are a particular attraction, described as having a theatrical mix of dramatic terraces, sophisticated flower borders, fantastical topiary and superb views.

Continue on the tarmac lane and, beyond the castle buildings, ignore the sharp-left turn which is the entrance drive for the castle, instead keep ahead on the main tarmac lane passing another fenced pool, Stable Pool, on the left. Pass through the large gate alongside another cattle grid and on the left you’ll pass the third pool, The Lilypond. The lane will lead you downhill and out through the stone gates across a cattle grid (there is a kissing gate to the right should you need to avoid the cattle grid) to reach a quiet country lane, Red Lane.

Red Lane to Belan Locks
Red Lane to Belan Locks

Start point: 52.6456 lat, -3.164 long
End point: 52.6391 lat, -3.1605 long

Turn left along the lane, taking care of any occasional traffic. As you draw level with the vehicle entrance for Powis Castle on the left, turn right over a stile into a large open pasture. Follow the obvious grass path ahead, passing immediately to the left of two large oak trees. The path becomes a stone track which leads you down to a pretty arched stone bridge over a stream.

Cross the bridge and you will see a signpost marking a three-way junction. Take the path straight ahead through the metal gate, climbing and following the fence line on the right. Follow the fence line as it swings right and then keep ahead to cross the next stile. Go straight ahead to join the slightly sunken grass track between trees.

Follow this track down to the bottom of the field where a stile leads you out to a quiet lane. Turn left for just a few paces to cross the canal bridge over Belan Locks.

Belan Locks to Pike Bench
Belan Locks to Pike Bench

Start point: 52.6391 lat, -3.1605 long
End point: 52.6475 lat, -3.1496 long

Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right and then right again to follow the towpath under the bridge (Number 121). Keep ahead along the towpath with the canal on the left, passing Belan Bottom Lock.

The Montgomery Canal was built principally to carry quarried limestone to canalside kilns. The kilns transformed it into quicklime for spreading on the fields to increase crop yields and so to increase the rental income of the landowners. Belan Locks were busy for many years as boats took away sacks of lime from the nearby kilns. At one time there were eight kilns working here. While the canal was closed to boats for many years, it is now being restored as a cruiseway through the picturesque Welsh Marches.

Some distance further along, the towpath leads you under the road bridge (Number 120) which carries the main A458 overhead. Follow the towpath over the small footbridge to reach a T-junction opposite a wooden bench carved into the shape of a pike.

Pike Bench to End
Pike Bench to End

Start point: 52.6475 lat, -3.1496 long
End point: 52.6589 lat, -3.1492 long

Turn left and continue along the towpath. This area is at the edge of Whitehouse Bridge Nature Reserve. It is a popular spot with anglers, both the human kind (fisherman) and the bird kind (kingfishers). Keep your eyes peeled as you walk for all kinds of wildlife. The canal is alive with rare aquatic plants, and otters and water voles have also been spotted. We were lucky enough to see a grass snake swimming in the canal.

As you approach Welshpool, you will see a black metal footbridge over the canal. Do NOT cross this, instead continue on the towpath with the canal on the left. Continue past Welshpool Lock and, immediately after the lock, use the small footbridge with white railings to cross the canal. Pass through the arch in the old wall and turn right down the brick slope.

Pass to the left of the red brick building ahead, an old canal warehouse. Just beyond this building you’ll see the array of carved totem poles which mark the entrance to the warehouse, which today houses the Powysland Museum and Canal Centre. Keep ahead and on the left you’ll pass the window of the canal office where there’s likely to be someone hard at work!

As you reach the road ahead turn left along the pavement. At the crossroads turn left into Berriew Road and a little way along on the right you will reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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