The Canal & River Trust charity is organising a weekend of fun waterway activities at Welshpool Wharf, as part of the Welshpool Transport Festival on 23 and 24 June.
Free canoeing and coracle taster sessions will be on offer on the Saturday (10.00am-5.00pm) and paddle boarding taster sessions on the Sunday (10.00am-2.00pm). Narrowboat trips, also free courtesy of the Heulwen Trust, will be available throughout the weekend.
These activities and other community events are being promoted by the Canal & River Trust, which manages 2,000 miles of the nation’s waterways, as part of the Heritage Lottery-funded project to restore the Montgomery Canal.
Also on both days will be a rare opportunity to enjoy a horse-drawn boat trip along the Montgomery Canal. For the first time in years, this unique mode of transport will take visitors along the Welsh stretch of the waterway. Trips are heavily subsidised and cost only £2 per person. Tickets are available on the day from the bottom of Smithfield Car Park (postcode SY21 7DD).
Sylvia Edwards, Montgomery Canal community development officer with the Trust, explained: “This special weekend offers visitors a marvellous chance to try out a range of exciting activities on water. Research proves people feel happier and healthier by water so it’s a great event for introducing visitors and local residents to opportunities for enjoying leisure time on the beautiful waterway.
“For people with a more competitive streak, we are hosting a coracle relay race at 2pm on the Saturday. This is free to enter. No previous experience is necessary as participants will have chance to practise in the morning up to midday.
“We hope lots of supporters will come down for the race to cheer on the competitors.”
Teams of four need to have registered their coracle race entry by 21 June by emailing Sylvia.Edwards@canalrivertrust.org.uk or calling 07787 508 635.
Music will keep everything swinging along throughout the weekend and a special charity concert, in aid of the Montgomery Canal restoration, will be held on Saturday night in the Assembly Room at Welshpool Town Hall. Advance tickets at the special price of £8.00 each are available through the Restore the Montgomery Canal website or £10 on the door.
Known for its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles between England and Wales and is currently only partly navigable. This weekend of community activities are part of a much larger HLF-funded £4 million project which involves the creation of a new three-hectare wildlife habitat within Aston Locks Nature Reserve and navigation restored to 1¼ miles of the canal, from Maesbury to Crickheath in Shropshire.
A dedicated turning point for narrowboats, known as a ‘winding hole’, is also being created, enabling boats to return to the area for the first time since 1936 when the canal was closed. The project includes access improvements to the canal and nearly five miles of towpath upgraded. The Canal & River Trust works with 15 partner organisations which make up the Montgomery Canal Partnership. The Partnership aims to restore the canal fully within the next decade as a haven for people and nature.
For more information about visiting your local canal, the Montgomery Canal restoration or becoming a Friend of the Canal & River Trust, please go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.