Canal Community

Communities have lived, worked and enjoyed the beauty and tranquillity of the canal since it was built. We must ensure it is not allowed decline and ultimately restore it to full use.

By becoming a member of the Tennant Canal Association, you can personally help to restore it for generations to come. 

There’s something about being in nature and close to water away from urban areas. It’s literally a breath of fresh air. Why should people be stressed out on their way to work each morning when they could be walking or cycling along the canal. Active travel is something that’s being promoted by government and local authorities to reduce carbon emissions and improve quality of life at the same time. It’s a win win.

Then, after work or at the weekend you could do something you’ve never done before like take a paddle in a canoe or kayak and experience a new kind of slow travel that allows you to take in everything around you in a completely new way or just walk the dog on a decent path along a canal in good condition rather than something that you worry could go to wrack and ruin unless a few simple steps are taken.

How about fishing rights? We plan to explore the option of getting the necessary permissions and public liability insurance to sell licenses or perhaps include them in your annual membership.

We’ll need work parties and equipment for them to help clean up and maintain the canal.

Community is something that builds over time. I live on Canalside because I wanted to live somewhere beautiful. Looking out the window to ducks and swans or just across the water is a delight. I found that periods of hardship e.g. flooding act as a catalyst to bring the existing community together and to create a wider community.

Following Storm Dennis Canalside was devastated. The river Neath overtopped its banks and filled the entire canal within minutes. The next thing we knew, it was coming through our letterboxes, but we stuck together and got to know each other better. We gathered media and celebrity attention (thanks Michael Sheen!) and staged a clearing of rocks from the Neath riverbed in order to ‘persuade’ NRW to do a bit of dredging to reduce the risk of future flooding down the canal. Watch the ITV news broadcast here.

The community coming together to ‘persuade’ NRW to remove the build-up of stones that make flooding more likely.

​When communities come together behind a cause, real change can happen, quickly. We need to build a community of people who care about preserving and restoring our heritage through joining, donating or volunteering time to get things done, whether that be sending emails, talking to the people who can make decisions or getting your hands dirty in and around the canal itself. Together we can do it and make a few friends while giving a good go.

None of this will be possible without getting the necessary permissions, permits licenses and insurance. At the moment fishing isn’t technically allowed. Even permitted path agreements along much of the canal have lapsed. The same goes for any activity on the water.

So let us build that community and get stuff done then enjoy the results.

A Walk Along The Canal

The canal is important to the local community for mental health and physical wellbeing. It makes a very pleasant and tranquil walk through unspoilt and historical landscapes. There are many points that you can get on and off the canal towpath.

Let us take a quick walk along to see some points of interest. Starting at Port Tennant heading towards Aberdulais you follow the Wales Coastal Path to Jersey Marine where Crymlyn Bog and Pant y Sais National Nature Reserves are. Carry on up the canal and you will see many CADW listed bridges. Then we arrive at Neath Abbey a 12th Century Cistercian Abbey which was of great importance in its day. It later became a Tudor manor house and then a copper works! A large amount of industrial waste was removed in the 1920s and it is now in the care of CADW (free access 10.00 – 16.00 daily).

As you keep heading up towards Aberdulais the River Neath runs alongside the Tennant Canal. At Neath you will see the first ever bridge that was built in Neath across the river.

As you keep going it is very peaceful and you will pass a few bridges including one designed by Brunel across the canal.

Keep heading towards Aberdulais you will pass more bridges. At Aberdulais Canal Side is a now much photographed pretty row of cottages.  The canal ends with the water inlet to the canal. Beyond  this the Rivers Dulais and Neath meet, and the historic aqueduct which previously linked the Tennant and Neath Canals crosses the River Neath. Before the road was built from Tonna to Cadoxton coffins were carried by boat across the aqueduct for burial at Cadoxton Church at a cost of 1d (old penny). It has also been said that boats loaded with gunpowder from Glynneath would cross at night with the horses hooves covered in sacking to prevent any sparks being created!

The TCA will be inquiring in the future about fishing rights for the canal, but we will need to ensure we have a stable water source to feed the canal before this could be done.

Save The Tennant Canal | Made for The Community*

*By local tech Steve Thomas who gave his time and skills for free to help save the canal.