If you’re coming from Pontypool train station turn right onto a quiet road, before turning left onto the main road for about 0.5km. Take a left turn onto National Cycle Network Route 49 alongside the canal, looking out for the left turn off onto National Cycle Network Route 492.
If you’re looking for a place to stop for lunch to build up your energy for the ride ahead, the Boat Yard Tea Room at Pontymoile Basin is perfect.
The path starts to ascend as it heads north from Pontypool through Abersychan to Blaenavon, soon entering a long stretch of lovely broadleaf woodland, with dramatic views to the east across the valley of Afon Llwyd and plenty of wildlife along the way. With a gentle climb of over 200 metres to Blaenavon it’s obvious that the trip back down to Pontypool will be an easier ride.
If you catch a glimpse of steam in the distance, you’re nearing Blaenavon’s heritage railway. The line was closed to passengers in 1941, although the section from Blaenavon to Pontypool was used for transporting coal from Big Pit and other local mines until 1980. Take a break, lock up your bike and travel back in time on one of their original steam locos.
The route ends at the Big Pit National Mine Museum where original features like the pithead baths bring life at the coalface vividly to life. Go underground with a real miner and see what life was like for the thousands of men (and pit ponies) who worked at the coalface.
From here you can also detour into Blaenavon, a proud World Heritage Site, which played a significant part in the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Journey back the way you came, but this time, downhill.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.
To make sure everyone gets the most out of their time by the water, please ensure you follow the Towpath Code.