The Kennet and Avon Canal - Bradford-on-Avon to Bathampton.
A walk along this part of the Kennet and Avon Canal is excellent with places to see including Bradford-on-Avon, Dundas and Avoncliff aqueducts.
Widbrook Bridge is right at the edge of the old Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon and the canal's route between here and Bath passes through some of England's most beautiful countryside. Set within the steep and heavily wooded Avon Valley,
Bradford on Avon itself has plenty to offer for visitors with it's picturesque narrow streets, very old houses and buildings and with the River Avon going straight through the middle of the town.
Bradford on Avon used to be a very prosperous centre for weaving and once had over 30 water powered mills - some of the mills can still be seen along the river although they have now been mostly converted into fairly expensive flats.
The River Avon is crossed by the nine arched Town Bridge (originally a packhorse bridge until the 17th century) which has a small medieval chapel situated in it's centre - the chapel was used as the town's prison during the 18th century.
Ladydown Bridge 169
Holy Trinity Church
Town Bridge Chapel
Bradford-on-Avon and things to not miss - The Norman Holy Trinity Church, St Laurence's Saxon Church and an old Tithe Barn. Near to Bradford on Avon's Town Bridge is Holy Trinity Church (Norman) which was originally built in the 12th Century and next to this large church is the beautiful St Laurence's Saxon Church which was founded in 705 and enlarged in the 10th century. This very old church has had various uses during it's long life
including being used as a school - it is one of the best preserved Saxon churches in England. Close to the Kennet and Avon canal is one of the best preserved Tithe Barns to be found in England - it is free to look around. The Tithe Barn dates from the 14th century and was built by the Abbess of
Shaftesbury as a granary - it is a really huge stone structure measuring 180 feet in length and has two porches, massive wooden doors and a beautifully beamed roof. The town also has a railway station and there are frequent services into Bath, Bristol and further west - as well as to Portsmouth and London.
Next to the station there is a quite large pay and display car park which has short stay and long stay section and there are also (very clean) public conveniences available 24 hours. From the far end of this car park steps go down to the River Avon - turn left and it is possible to reach the Tithe Barn and the Kennet and Avon Canal without having to walk along the Town's pavements.
The Town Bridge at
Bradford on Avon
Bradford Lockbridge 172
Avoncliff Aqueduct 8 9
Aqueduct 8 9
Avoncliff Aqueduct and Dundas Aqueduct. The Great Western Railway line and The River Avon are crossed by the Kennet and Avon Canal at Avoncliff via an aqueduct which was designed by John Rennie and Chief Engineer John Thomas in 1801 and features an excellent 60 foot long arch. To continue along the towpath you have to walk down the side and then
under the aqueduct to re-gain the towpath on the far side. The section of the canal between Bradford on Avon and Bath is very popular with cyclists and bikes of all sorts can be hired at both towns. Dundas Aqueduct takes the canal back
across the railway and river and was also built by Rennie and Thomas - it's constructed of golden Bath stone and crosses the River Avon using one single arch. This beautiful aqueduct has Doric style (ancient Greek) pilasters,
balustrades at each end and has a smaller oval arch on either side of the main arch.
no: 10 and 11
The very short
Somerset Coal Canal
End of all that is left of the Somerset Coal Canal
Dundas Bridge 178
Cycle hire is also available at Monkton Combe - this is a short distance along the mostly extinct
Somerset Coal Canal
which leaves from Dundas Aqueduct - as well as being able to hire cycles there is a cafe and toilet facilities. The Somerset Coal Canal opened in 1805 for the purpose of moving coal from the North Somerset coalfields around Timsbury, Paulton and Radstock to the Kennet and Avon
Canal and thus onto various locations such as Bath and Bristol and at it's peak carried around 100,000 tons a year. Traffic decreased quite rapidly in the 1880s with the coming of the railways - the canal ceased operations around 1898 and was officially closed by 1904. The towpath right along the route is in very good condition but some of the above-mentioned cyclists can be a bit of a problem for anyone walking and equally for other cyclists as the riders tend to be more interested in watching their attached young children than watching where they are going.
Claverton Pumping Station.
At Claverton, Warleigh Weir interrupts the River Avon and enables water to be diverted for use by Claverton Mill. However this mill was subsequently purchased by the canal company and converted into a pumping station to supply the
Kennet and Avon Canal with water from the River Avon. The mill's beam pumps were used to lift the water 50 feet up to the canal and the pumps were capable of moving 100,000 gallons of water an hour. This unique pumping station started operation in 1813 and pumped water to the nine mile pound from Bradford on Avon to Bath. The pump station is clearly marked from the canal and involves a short but steep walk down hill on a small road into the valley and then crossing the railway line - there is a fee to go inside the pumping station.
Hardings Bridge 181
Candys Bridge 184
Folly Footbridge 185
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