Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Bath and Return - 18 miles, 6 locks, 12 hours total
This is the perfect beginner's route. Cruising westwards along a pleasant stretch of the Kennet & Avon you'll gently make your way through open countryside to the villages of Limpley Stoke, Bathampton and Claverton. This route allows plenty of time to stop off at the villages and pubs along the way to explore all that the Wiltshire & Somerset countryside has to offer. In around 6 hours from the base at Bradford-on-Avon, travelling over two aqueducts and two swing-bridges, you will come to Bath Top Lock. Moor up before the lock, allowing plenty of room for other boaters and take a leisurely 20 minute walk into the centre of Bath. Visit the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and the 'Pump Rooms', then explore the many bars, restaurants and shops on offer. Go down the first two locks at Bath to turn your boat around (between locks 11 & 12) then begin your journey back to base.
Intermediate – Semington, Bath and Return - 30 miles. 6 locks. 14.5 hours
Head east on your first afternoon, cruising past character cottages, farmland and woodland. Just after the wharf at Hilperton with its raised offices, you go through a swing-bridge and arrive at Semington Bridge where you can moor for your first evening (pub nearby). Turn before Semington Lock and retrace your steps back to Bradford-on-Avon, which is a fascinating village with plenty of cafés, shops and pubs. Just past Bradford-on-Avon Lock you'll find the Tithe Barn (13 th C) followed by the Avoncliff Aqueduct, over the River Avon. Passing Limpley Stoke on your left, you reach the Dundas Aqueduct then follow the canal to the right; past Claverton and Bathampton. Cruising under the ornate bridges near Sydney Gardens you'll arrive in Bath; moor just after Sydney Wharf if possible (or turn around and moor near Sydney Gardens). It's just a 10 minute walk into Bath City centre from here, where you can enjoy attractions such as the Roman Baths, the Pump House and Pulteney Bridge; plus lots of shops, bars, pubs and restaurants. Go through the first two locks to turn your boat around and return to the boatyard.
Intermediate route: The bottom of the Caen Hill Flight and Return - 23 miles, 28 locks, 16 hours total
Start your journey east on the Kennet & Avon, a slightly more adventurous route as you will be encountering more locks. Travel through some of Wiltshire’s best scenery and picturesque market towns and villages. There are a few canalside pubs dotted along the banks of the Kennet & Avon, the village of Seend is home to many pubs and eateries and so provides a good stopping point on the way to Devizes. The journey on from Seend becomes slightly more lock-heavy, travel past Foxhangers Wharf and tackle 7 locks until you reach March Lane Bridge. From here you will be able to see one of the waterways top landmarks- the Caen Hill Flight. If time permits walk up the towpath to have a closer look at the locks, then use the winding hole to turn your boat and start cruising back to Bradford-on-Avon.
Active route: Bristol Floating Harbour and Return - 55 miles, 23 locks, 24 hours total
This cruise is best explored over an energetic midweek break. Head west from the marina on the Kennet & Avon and past the city of Bath, you will then join onto the River Avon for the cruise Bristol. After passing through the charming town of Keynsham on the way to Hanham Lock you will travel through a steeply wooded valley, with several waterside eateries. Cruise into Bristol Floating Harbour, where you can moor up (charges apply) from here it is a leisurely 20 minute walk into the centre of Bristol. The city of Bristol has a prosperous maritime history and is home to Brunel’s SS Great Britain-Bristol’s award winning visitor attraction. Other attractions include Bristol’s Cathedral and Zoo, or perhaps pop along to the shopping quarter for a bit of retail therapy. Turn at the Floating Harbour for your return journey back to Bath. N.B. This route is only available to boaters with prior experience.
Weekly Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Pewsey and Return - 47 miles, 72 locks, 34 hours total
Located in the heart of rural Wiltshire, the Vale of Pewsey has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travelling through unspoilt scenery from the base at Bradford-on-Avon, you will cruise through the pretty village of Seend with its 18th Century houses. After this you will be approaching the Caen Hill Locks, 29 locks rising 235ft in just 2¼ miles, making it one of the UK’s largest flight of locks. A cafe at the top of the locks will provide you with some well-deserved refreshments! The journey after the Caen Hill Flight to Pewsey is far less taxing, giving you the opportunity to take in the scenic countryside views. The village of Pewsey, with its charming thatched cottages is home to several pubs, a horse riding centre and a trout fishery. For your return journey home, travel on just past Milkhouse Water Bridge, where there is a winding hole.
Intermediate route: Bristol, bottom of Caen Hill Flight and Return - 76 miles, 56 locks, 39 hours total
A nice varied cruise allowing you to travel on the Kennet & Avon and also onto the River Avon to Bristol. Start your journey westwards, heading over the Dundas and Avoncliffe Aqueducts and past the City of Bath. Join the River Avon at Hanham Lock and cruise to Bristol Floating Harbour for your moorings (charges apply). Explore Bristol’s attractions and shops before turning at the harbour for the second part of your journey. Cruise back past the base, continuing through the villages and past the canalside pubs along the banks of the Kennet & Avon. Pass through 7 locks to reach the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight where you can marvel at this famous waterways landmark. Take a walk up the tow path to watch the boats working their way through the locks and if time permits pop into the town of Devizes and grab a bite to eat at one of the many eateries. Turn at the winding hole at the bottom of the lock flight and head back to Bradford-on-Avon. N.B. This route is only available to boaters with prior experience.
Active route: Hungerford and Return - 76 miles, 120 locks, 54 hours total
This is an energetic weekly cruise that will require around 8-8.5 hours cruising per day. Begin your journey eastwards and heading through the idyllic villages towards the Caen Hill Locks. Work your way through the lock flight and pass through the village of Devizes and onto the Vale of Pewsey- a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Further along the Kennet & Avon you will get to travel through the canal’s only tunnel. Bruce Tunnel is 502yds long and still has the remains of the chains on the wall that were used to pull the boats through. Continue through Great Bedwyn and towards your destination of Hungerford. This charming market town is home to many antique shops and pubs, some dating back to the 16th Century. To start your cruise back to Bradford-on-Avon, use the winding hole at Hungerford Town Bridge.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Hungerford, Bath and Return - 94 miles, 122 locks, 66 hours total
Start your journey east on the Kennet & Avon and cruise through the various canalside villages scattered through the attractive Wiltshire countryside towards the Caen Hill Locks. Tackle the locks, which will take around 5-6 hours and stop off at the cafe at the top or pop into the town of Devizes for a well-deserved treat. From here on you will have a far more relaxing journey through the Vale of Pewsey, the Bruce Tunnel (502yds) and onto Great Bedwyn. From here you will go down through the lock towards the town of Hungerford. This quaint market town is home to an abundance of friendly pubs and many antique shops. Your turning point will be Hungerford Town Bridge, where you will begin your journey back past the base and to Bath Top Lock. Time depending, you can either moor up here and walk into Bath (25 minutes) or carry on into the centre of Bath and moor up there instead. Once you’ve finished exploring, turn and start back to base.
Intermediate route: Bath, Newbury and Return - 113 miles, 144 locks, 76 hours total
A varied and fascinating two week cruise route that will allow you to visit both the historic City of Bath and the market town of Newbury. Start your journey west and either moor above Bath Top Lock, where you can walk to the city centre or cruise on into the centre of Bath where there are moorings available. This impressive city is worth taking some time out to explore, visit some of the main sights, such as the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. From here head east on the Kennet & Avon, over the Avoncliffe and Dundas Aqueducts and past the base at Bradford-on-Avon. Tackle the Caen Hill Flight of locks at Devizes and pass through the picturesque villages and towns of Pewsey, Hungerford and on to Newbury. The historic market town of Newbury is home to many attractions including Newbury Racecourse and Highclere Castle, featured in the ITV drama Downton Abbey. There are multiple winding holes in Newbury for you to turn back to base.
Active Route: Reading and Return - 150 miles, 186 locks, 90 hours total
This is an active route that will allow you to experience the full eastern length of the stunning Kennet & Avon Canal, taking in the delightfully rural scenery as you cruise through all of the picturesque villages along the canal. Close to Newbury you’ll get to cruise through one of Wiltshire’s ancient forests, the Savernake Forest, which dates back to Norman times. Continue on from here through the final villages of Aldermaston and Theale, passing by several canalside pubs and eateries on the approach to Reading. There are moorings at Reading Jail Loop, where it is a short walk into the town centre. Reading is home to The Oracle shopping centre, multiple museums and Reading Gaol. There are plenty of restaurants and bars in the town centre for refreshment before you turn in one of the various winding holes to begin your journey back to Bradford-on-Avon.