In May, June and July 2014 I walked the Llangollen and Montgomery canals in three sections.  Each time I stayed in Shrewsbury and every day I followed the canal towpaths as they crossed and recrossed the border between England and Wales.

Walking further into Wales an extraordinary sense of tranquility pervades the canals, especially the central section of the Montgomery canal where for several miles there is not a single reminder of the twenty first century and the only buildings of any kind all date from the 1790’s when the canals were built: the remnants of the original wharves, little brick cargo stores, lime kilns and a single tall brick chimney, now all overgrown and picturesque in their decay.

There is a palpable sense of walking through a landscape which would have been instantly recognisable to the boatmen, farmers and kilnsmen who lived here over two hundred years ago; a familiarity which would have been shared by the men who left these parts to fight in the First World War, almost exactly a hundred years before my visit.

Sometimes the silence was so intense it was as if History was holding its breath …

© Nick Creagh-Osborne and 2015.

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