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Wiltshire, England, Canal Walk - Kennet and Avon Canal Walk - Bradford-on-Avon to Bath – 10 Miles

The canal route between Bradford on Avon and Bath clings to the side of the Avon valley sharing it with both the river and railway.

This walk was designed and supplied by www.MeanderHolidays.co.uk

There is an extensive car park in Bradford on Avon adjacent to the railway station. To reach the canal walk out of the car park and turn right and follow the road for 500m. When you reach the canal turn right on to the footpath (the canal should be on your left!)

Originally owned by Shaftsbury Abbey it’s now owned by English Heritage and open daily between 10.00 and 16.00, free entryThe canal is raised above the railway which has limited local traffic – so there is little to disturb your peace. As you leave Bradford on your right you will find the towns 14th Century Tithe Barn. Originally owned by Shaftsbury Abbey it’s now owned by English Heritage and open daily between 10.00 and 16.00, free entry. The large building is split into 14 bays and has an impressive wooden roof requiring substantial buttresses to support it.

The Kennet and Avon Canal is lock free until it reaches Bath and it achieves this by sticking to the valley side. In order to order to maintain this it crosses the river Avon and railway twice via two impressive aqueducts designed by John Rennie. The first is the Avoncliff (after 2 miles). Here you will find both the Cross Guns pub and the Mad Hatter Tea Rooms. The pub is on your right as you approach the aqueduct.

Before you cross the aqueduct you will need to transfer to the other side of the canal. This done by following the broad path beneath the aqueduct. This will lead you to the Mad Hatter which has a large garden, is licensed and renowned for its cakes.

The canal was designed with broad locks and wide bridges to accommodate boats that could also travel along the Thames and Avon. As you approach you will see a wide variety of different sized and weird and wonderful craft moored to the bank.

The route then follows the wooded towpath to the East of the valley before re-crossing the river via the Dundas aqueduct (after 4.5 miles). The aqueduct was built of Bath limestone and is considered to be the finest example of architecture on the route (despite being smaller than the Avoncliff). As you reach the aqueduct there are steps down to the left, which afford you an excellent view of Rennie’s architecture. The far side of the aqueduct marks the junction of the Kennet and Avon and the former Somerset Coal canal. Immediately after the Dundas aqueduct the towpath crosses the junction on a small swing bridge. Today the first half mile has been restored and is used as moorings. As the name implies it was built by Somerset coal mine owners to transport coal to Bath and Bristol as they feared that the new navigation would make supply from other parts of the country cheaper. The canal was opened in 1805 and was initially successful, carrying over 100,000 tons of coal a year in the 1820’s but railway competition saw it decline, and close in 1898.

If you take the path to the left between the aqueduct and Somerset canal it leads you to the Brassknocker Visitor Centre and Café at the end of the restored Somerset canal section.

Retrace your steps, cross the opening to the Somerset canal and skirt around the remains of the Dundas wharf and cross the canal on the footbridge (Bridge 177) to continue your journey North.

At Bridge 179 you can see Claverton Pumping Station and visit it if today is a Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday or bank Holiday. The pumping station was built to transfer up to 98,000 gallons of water from the Avon up to the canal and address the problem of water loss into the Avon as the canal drops through its locks to join the river in Bath.

Claverton is also the home of the only American museum outside of the US. To visit cross bridge 179 and turn left on the main road. Cross over to take the first right turn and you will find the museum on your right housed in Claverton manor. You can visit the museum or buy a ticket to visit the grounds only. There is also a café.

The canal continues north and then turns east to approach Bath. At Bridge 183 (7.5 miles) the canal reaches Bathampton and the George Inn which together with being a pub serving food also provides takeaway ice cream.

From Bathampton the path affords an unrivalled view over the city of Bath before descending into the city. Between Bridges 185 (actually a short tunnel) and 188 the canal passes through the attractive Sydney Gardens. As you pass through the gardens look ahead and see Cleveland house above another short tunnel. This was the original Headquarters of the Kennet and Avon canal. The tunnels were constructed to partially hide the canal in a fashionable part of the town. The towpath crosses the canal after Cleveland House and again at bridge 188 where you also have to cross a main road so take care. The canal now drops down to meet the river through a series of locks including the appropriately named Bath Deep Lock which with a rise/fall of 18 feet and 8 inches is one of the deepest in Britain.

When you reach the canal’s junction with the River Avon you will see Bath Railway station on the other side of the river. Join the road and follow the road downstream, pass under the railway viaduct and cross the river.

Food and Drink

Avoncliff (2 miles)
Cross Guns - Tel: 01225 862335 www.crossguns.net
Mad Hatter Tea Room – Tel: 01225 868123 www.TheMadHatterCafe.net

Dundas Aqueduct – Bridge 176 (4.5 miles)
Brassknocker Cafe - Tel: 01225 722292

Bathampton – Bridge 183 (7.5 miles)
George Inn - Tel: 01225 460505


In the above pubs and cafes.

Other Information

Claverton – Bridge 179 (5.5 miles)
American Museum - Tel: 01225 460503

The Kennet and Avon canal links the River Avon in the West with the River Kennet and its confluence with the River Thames at Reading.

The Kennet and Avon rivers were both made navigable by 1727. The connecting 57 miles of canal was commenced in 1794 but not completed until 1810. The time taken to construct being a reflection of money shortages, water supply difficulties and the grand architectural style employed by its builder John Rennie. The canal was designed to allow boats to travel from London to Bristol and was therefore constructed with broad locks and high bridges. Unfortunately, the canal never competed successfully with rival coastal route. It was beset with water supply problems created by its comparatively short summit section and high number of locks, and its late commencement and completion meant that by 1852 it had been sold to the Great Western Railway and the canal declined over the next century until closure. It closed in the early 1950’s but within 10 years restoration had commenced with the whole route being restored by 1992.

This walk was designed and supplied by: www.MeanderHolidays.co.uk