Children of all ages were messing about in boats on the Montgomery Canal on 8th July when the Friends of the Montgomery Canal organised a Coracle Fun Day on the isolated section of the canal in Welshpool.

Assisted by Ironbridge Coracle Trust (with two members lending their tuition skills to the event) and Welshpool Canoe Club, who turned out en masse, a number of coracles and canoes were on hand for a range of activities showing how the coracle is the perfect craft to be used on slow-moving water. With a safety briefing, buoyancy aids and tuition, about sixty children and adults, many of whom were families, were able to try their hand at the challenge. Paddlers had time to gain basic skills in coracle handling and later were invited to join in Coracle Football (where canoes and kayaks acted as goalposts) and retrieving ‘realistic’ fish from a canoe. Members of TRAMPS (Thursday Restoration and Maintenance Project Supporters who volunteer with CRT) also lent a hand with lifting, recovering and managing the event.

The event was attended by local councillors who had arrived on the trip boat of the Heulwen Trust and were invited to see how local people can make use of and enjoy this valuable body of water. In conversation with local councillors, the Friends of the Montgomery Canal were congratulated on working jointly with Powys Youth Service to encourage participation in the fun day as this is in line with the UK Government’s Levelling Up Campaign.

Alan Roberts from the Friends of the Montgomery Canal committee, who organised and led the event team said, “This was the first time the Friends of the Montgomery Canal had run an event dedicated solely to coracles. I’m a big fan of coracles and we ran our free fun day for the enjoyment of the local population and to enhance awareness that the canal is a rich resource particularly in the town centre of Welshpool. In reviewing the function of the Friends, a key objective of the committee was that more canal activities should be attractive to children and young people and therefore we are keen to engage families and young people, especially at a time when financial pressures can mean that expensive activities can be a difficult option.”

Christine Palin, Chairman of the Friends of the Montgomery Canal said, “The revival of the Montgomery Canal can bring many benefits to the towns and villages along the canal, conserving its rich heritage of locks, bridges and canalside structures and safeguarding its valuable plants and wildlife. All this brings visitors to boost the local economy and gives residents and their families opportunities for recreation on the towpath and on the water. We were delighted, once again, to bring simple water-bases activities to Welshpool to show what the canal is about”.

The Friends of the Montgomery Canal is part of the Restore the Montgomery Canal! appeal promoted in partnership with the Shropshire Union Canal Society, the Shrewsbury District & North Wales branch of the Inland Waterways Association and the Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust which is raising funds so volunteers can continue restoration towards the Shropshire border at Llanymynech.  – .

The Friends are always keen to receive help in promoting the canal and what it can offer the local community – .