Kennet and Avon Canal, Wiltshire/Somerset

Celebrate the canal’s 200th anniversary with a stroll that blends natural beauty and Georgian engineering

19th April 2011
Kennet canal
Difficulty
Easy
Distance
11 miles
Duration
3.5 hours

The Kennet and Avon Canal is a huge success story; over many years it has been transformed from a derelict, watery resting place for shopping trolleys into a leisure hub. You can walk, cycle or hire a canoe or a barge to enjoy the canal’s stunning surroundings at your own pace, and there’s also an abundance of wildlife, good fishing and fine pubs along the way.


The beauty of this walk, from the pretty Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon to the Georgian splendour of Bath in Somerset, is that you can tackle it however you please. Trains run regularly between Bath Spa and Bradford, so you can walk one way and get the train back, or if you’re driving, you could park the car at a point along the canal and then walk in whichever direction you choose.



Tranquil towpaths

Head along the towpath from Bradford and you’ll come to Avoncliff Aqueduct, a 100m (330ft)-long meld of beautiful architecture and engineering by John Rennie, finished in 1801, that crosses the River Avon and the railway line. You’ll now need to get on to the other side of the canal, so turn right towards the excellent Cross Guns pub and head under the aqueduct and up the steps on to the other side, along the towpath with the canal to your right. For the next few miles you can enjoy the canal’s tranquillity, with only the occasional whirr of a narrowboat engine, gentle birdsong and the odd plop of a fisherman’s line being cast into the water as the soundtrack to your stroll.


Dundas Aqueduct

After three miles or so, you’ll come to Dundas Aqueduct – another Rennie construction – that spans the Avon and the railway line for 137m (450ft). Here you can turn left along the restored section of the Somerset Coal Canal to visit the acclaimed Brass Knocker Basin café.


Back on the Kennet and Avon towpath, cross over a bridge to keep the canal on your left as you head towards Bath. The next three-mile section is perhaps the most uninspiring of the walk, but things improve when you enter the pretty village of Bathampton. Here you can stop for a pint at the George pub, or enjoy a hot drink in one of the barges that double up as cafés.


Bath-bound

Now continue towards Bath, through the tunnels of Sydney Gardens, one of the city’s many fine parks, and into Widcombe, where the canal meets the Avon on its way to Bristol. This is the perfect place to leave the canal behind to explore this stunning city, which is a World Heritage Site, before catching the train back to Bradford.


Useful Information


 

 

HOW TO GET THERE
Bradford on Avon is three miles north-west of Trowbridge and eight miles south-east of Bath on the A363. Trains run regularly from Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa and Westbury.

 

FIND OUT MORE


Canoe/bike hire – TT Cycles
Frome Road, Bradford on Avon BA15 1LE
01225 867187
www.towpathtrail.co.uk
Adult bikes from £8 for three hours or £12 per day, canoes from £20 for three hours or
£30 per day.

 

EAT

The Lock Inn Café
Frome Road, Bradford on Avon BA15 1LE
01225 868068
www.thelockinn.co.uk
Friendly café with a good-value menu and right on the canal.

 


STAY

Bradford Old Windmill
4 Masons Lane, Bradford on Avon BA15 1QN
01225 866842
bradfordoldwindmill.co.uk
A quirky B&B set in a windmill
in Bradford on Avon.

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