In the last week we motored up and down the 33 miles long Brecon & Abergavenny Canal. This stunningly beautiful and peaceful, 6 locks canal is located within or along the border of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.
Unlike my partner, who has raced on Hobie Cats and is always passionate about the perspective of a yachting adventure, I am a useless, lousy and violently sea-sick yacht mate. My romantic vision of sailing the world was brutally crushed on the first rough, night crossing from Barbados to Bequia over a year ago. In my defence it was REALLY ROUGH, so this year’s holiday on still canal waters seemed like a much better water adventure idea.
I’ll be honest – I did not know about the canals before and that they were used to transport goods (coal, coke, lime, limestone…). Hundred of thousands of tonnes of them in fact! And this was way before railways! The ingeniously engineered miles of canals allowed us to motor peacefully and enjoy wonderful views down to the river Usk and Beacons National Park’s dales over 200 years later. Thanks Victorians for allowing for this great holiday!
Our boat was called Owl, which my partner rented from Beacon Park Boats. It was a very comfortable, 15 ton heavy, narrow boat (with a jacuzzi in the bow!!!) carried by 30 feet wide and 3-4 feet deep on average waters of the canal. Yes, I did say 3-4 feet deep! We were getting grounded in the shallow waters 3-4 times a day on average, but it quickly became a part of the routine and ultimate adventure.
With the maximum speed of a whopping 2 miles per hour we traveled from Abergavenny to Brecon and back. The weather became kind only in the last 2 days, but it was a very relaxing and memorable experience, which I hope we’ll repeat in the future.
The night before we boarded Owl, we stayed at a late sixteenth century coaching inn, today the King’s Arms hotel in Abergavenny, where I got absolutely gobsmacked by the flavour of Whipped Goats Cheese with Garlic Confit created by chef Jim Hamilton. His classic training background does shine through really brightly in the finesse of flavours he puts in the front of unexpecting diners.
Take my advice, if you happen to be in the area, and DO NOT miss the opportunity of treating yourself to a meal at King’s Arms.
After a short conversation with chef Jim I found out that he used to work in Guernsey (where we live in the summer – isn’t the world small?!) some years back in a Michelin-starred restaurant. The delicate hint of honey and garlic blended with the subtle flavour of the local goat’s cheese in chef Jim’s Whipped Goats Cheese with Garlic Confit was more than special. I am going to try and recreate this wonderful flavour for you soon and post the proportions in a recipe.
For dinner we had delicious Welsh lamb served with mustard cabbage…seriously, I can’t tell you enough about the perfect balance of slightly sour, grainy mustard and earthy, perfectly cooked cabbage which took me to the lamb heaven. Thank you King’s Arms!