Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Bath, Hilperton and Return - 24 miles, 2 locks, 10 hours total
This is a lovely weekend option, giving you the opportunity to visit the beautiful, historic City of Bath and to cruise a scenic stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal, encountering a couple of aqueducts en route. This is a good route for beginners as, if you moor up at Bath Top Lock and walk into Bath City centre from there, you will only be required to do one lock each way to Hilperton and back. Once you’ve visited Bath, turn at the winding hole just before Bath Top Lock (or turn after the first two locks if you have a longer boat) and cruise east, travelling through a short tunnel and past Sydney Gardens, through 2 swingbridges, then over the Dundas Aqueduct and the Avoncliff Aqueduct. Stop at the lovely town of Bradford-on-Avon then proceed to the village of Hilperton, where you can turn in the marina and begin your journey back to base.
Intermediate route: Bristol Floating Harbour and Return - 34 miles, 26 locks, 16 hours total
Heading west from the marina on the Kennet & Avon, past the UNESCO City of Bath, you can join the River Avon and cruise into the centre of Bristol. After passing the quaint town of Keynsham you will travel through a steeply wooded valley as you approach Hanham Lock where there are some waterside pubs to choose from. Cruise on from here to Bristol Floating Harbour, where you can moor up and take a leisurely 20 minute stroll into the centre of Bristol for a bit of retail therapy. Mooring at the floating harbour does incur a cost of approx. £35. Aside from shopping, Bristol has so much to offer in the way of restaurants, culture, and history, including Bristol Cathedral and Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Turn at the Floating Harbour for your return journey back to Bath. N.B. This route is only available to boaters with prior experience.
Active route: Foxhanger Wharf and Return - 36 miles, 16 locks, 18 hours total
Best completed over a midweek break. Head east from the base along the Kennet & Avon, past the pretty villages Bathampton and Claverton then over the Avoncliff and Dundas Aqueducts. Continue to lovely Bradford-on-Avon, where there are a couple of canalside pubs and restaurants - worth having a walk around the town. The next villages along the Kennet & Avon are Semington and Seend - Seend is home to 18th Century Seend Manor with its beautiful walled garden, featuring flowers from all over the world. Continue heading towards the market town of Devizes. Once over the small Summerham Aqueduct, turn at Lower Foxhangers Bridge to start your journey back to base. If time permits and you’d like to take a look at the famous Caen Hill Locks, either moor up at the Wharf for a short walk or continue cruising from Lower Foxhangers Bridge, through 6 locks to Marsh Lane Bridge where there is a winding hole just before the lock flight.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Bristol, Devizes and Return -70 miles, 42 locks, 34 hours total
This route will allow you to visit the city of Bristol and also see one of the waterway’s top landmarks - the Caen Hill Flight. Heading west from the marina on the Kennet & Avon you will join onto the River Avon for a cruise into the centre of Bristol. Moor up at Bristol Floating Harbour (charges apply) where it is only a 20 minute stroll into the city centre. Bristol has so much to offer, with many shops, restaurants and historical places of interest to visit. Turn yourself around at the harbour and travel back along the River Avon onto the Kennet & Avon Canal. Carry on past the base, cruising through picturesque towns and villages such as Bathampton and Bradford-on-Avon. Cruise through 3 swing-bridges and over 2 stone aqueducts, eventually stopping at Lower Foxhangers Bridge where you will be able to walk up and see the amazing Caen Hill Flight before turning around and returning to Bath. N.B. This route is only available to boaters with prior experience.
Intermediate route: Pewsey and Return - 69 miles, 74 locks, 38 hours total
This route means tackling one of the UK’s largest flights of locks, the Caen Hill Flight. Covering a distance of 2¼ miles with 29 locks it’s not for the faint-hearted and at the top of the flight you’ll find a welcome café for some well-deserved refreshments! You’ll also be relieved to know that after the Caen Hill Flight to Pewsey and back there are no locks, so you can relax and enjoy the peaceful, scenic countryside and its stunning views. The Vale of Pewsey is located in the heart of rural Wiltshire and has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Once you’ve taken in your surroundings and explored the village of Pewsey, travel just past Milkhouse Water Bridge, where there is a winding hole for you to turn around, then head back to base. Other highlights include the Dundas and Avoncliff Aqueducts and the chance to visit the lovely town of Bradford-on-Avon en route.
Active route: Great Bedwyn and Return - 83 miles, 102 locks, 50 hours total
This route will involve tackling the Caen Hill Flight and travelling through the idyllic Vale of Pewsey (as above). Continuing on from here along the Kennet & Avon you'll reach the particularly charming village of Wootton Rivers, with its predominantly thatched cottages and 16th Century pub. Just before you reach your destination of Great Bedwyn, you get to travel through the one and only tunnel on this stretch of the canal, the Bruce Tunnel - at 502yds long the tunnel also marks the highest point on the Kennet & Avon. After the tunnel cruise on to the historic canalside village of Great Bedwyn, where you will find a 12th -13th Century church and a few pubs to choose from near the top of the village. Turn at Great Bedwyn Wharf to begin your journey back to Bath.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Bath, Hungerford and Return - 94 miles, 134 locks, 60 hours total
Start your journey by cruising east through a short tunnel and past Sydney Gardens. Along this stretch you will pass the small villages of Bathampton and Claverton before crossing the impressive Avoncliff and Dundas Aqueducts. Stop at the lovely town of Bradford-on-Avon before proceeding towards Semington and Seend and up the imposing Caen Hill Lock Flight. Pass through the Bruce Tunnel and alongside numerous pretty canalside villages dotted through the scenic Wiltshire countryside, such as Honeystreet and Pewsey. Once you’ve travelled through Great Bedwyn, descend through the lock towards the market town of Hungerford - in this charming Berkshire town you'll find an abundance of antique shops, along with many friendly pubs and restaurants to choose from. Hungerford Town Bridge provides your winding hole, turn here and cruise back to base. On your last afternoon, mooring back at the boatyard, take the opportunity to walk into Bath (20 minutes) and some of its main attractions including Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.
Intermediate route: Newbury, Bath and Return - 113 miles, 144 locks, 70 hours total
An interesting and varied route that will enable you to visit the city of Bath and the historic market town of Newbury in a two week cruise. Head east on the Kennet & Avon (as above) tackling the impressive Caen Hill Lock Flight at Devizes, after which you’ll have a nice 3 to 4 hour stretch of lock-free canal towards Pewsey to enjoy, with beautiful scenery along the way. Pass through picturesque villages, stopping off for refreshment at the canalside pubs if you please, all the way through Hungerford and on to Newbury. In Newbury there are numerous attractions to visit, including Newbury Racecourse and the impressive Highclere Castle, featured in the ITV drama Downton Abbey (by taxi). Turn at Newbury, where there are multiple winding holes available for you to turn. Then head west, continuing back past the base and walking into the city centre from there. Take time to explore this impressive historic City, where you can visit some iconic sights, such as the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey.
Active Route: Reading and Return- 150 miles, 185 locks, 94 hours total
This busy route will allow you to travel the full length of the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal, taking in the impressive scenery as you cruise through all of the main villages along the canal. Cruise over the Dundas and Avoncliff Aqueducts, over the challenging Caen Hill Locks and through the Bruce Tunnel; then past the old forest of Savernake, a survivor of Wiltshire’s ancient forests, near Newbury. Once you’ve passed through the final towns and villages you’ll reach the end of the Kennet & Avon where the canal meets the River Thames at Reading. Moor up close to the centre, at Reading Jail Loop. Walk into the town from here, where you can grab a bite to eat at one of the numerous restaurants, have a spending spree at The Oracle shopping centre or visit one of the town’s many museums. Turn at the winding hole near King's Bridge Road and begin your journey back to base, stopping off at various canalside pubs and villages along the way, if time permits.