Short Break Route Suggestions (3 & 4 nights):
Relaxed route: Bradford on Avon, Bath Top Lock and Return – 18 miles, 2 locks, 8 hours total
A lovely option for beginners, with just one lock to do each way. From our base at Monkton Combe, cruise out of the Somersetshire Coal Canal to Dundas Wharf then head east across the Dundas Aqueduct. Cruise along the scenic Kennet & Avon Canal, through peaceful countryside and woodland, passing the hillside village of Limpley Stoke to your right (moor at the bridge for a short walk to the pub). Cross the Avoncliff Aqueduct - the second aqueduct of the journey, then continue to the lovely Cotswold stone town of Bradford on Avon. Set in the Avon Valley this picturesque town features historic buildings, independent shops and several good pubs (moor close to the impressive 14th Century Tithe Barn for a short walk into town). Once you’ve finished exploring, cruise a little further to Bradford Lock, moving up the lock to the winding hole, where you turn your boat ready for your journey to Bath. Cross back over the two aqueducts and past the entrance to the base, through open countryside to the villages of Claverton then Bathampton, where there is a canalside pub. Cruise past Sydney Gardens and through the Cleveland House Tunnel, then moor up after the wharf for a short walk into Bath city centre. Visit the Roman Baths, Bath Cathedral and indulge in a bit of retail therapy before turning your boat at the winding hole above Bath Top Lock and making your way back to Monkton Combe.
Intermediate route: Foxhangers Wharf and Return – 29 miles, 16 locks, 15 hours total
Start your journey by heading east across the Dundas Aqueduct, past the hillside village of Limpley Stoke and over the Avoncliff Aqueduct. Continue through the steeply wooded Avon Valley, past the remarkable 13th Century Tithe Barn at Bradford-on-Avon and through the first lock of your journey near Bradford Wharf - Bradford-on-Avon is a good stop for your first night. Cruise over the small Bliss Aqueduct which crosses the River Bliss, towards the village of Hilperton where you'll find a pub, post office and stores near the road bridge. Pass through the two locks at Semington (village 10 mins walk) and start your climb towards Devizes, followed by a further five locks at Seend (nearby pub). The canal is bordered by pleasant open countryside as you go through a couple of swing bridges and pass the village of Sells Green, where there is a pub. Cruise across the low Summerham Aqueduct and moor up alongside the towpath before the winding hole. Take a stroll along the canal to wonder at the mighty Caen Hill Flight, consisting of 29 locks in only 2 ¼ miles. Use the winding hole at the base of the flight to turn your boat and return back to base.
Active route: Bristol Floating Harbour and Return - 45 miles, 26 locks, 21 hours total
This cruise is best explored over an energetic midweek break. Leave the boatyard and cruise westwards along the Kennet & Avon towards the villages of Claverton and Bathampton. Carry on past Sydney Gardens and through the tunnel towards the first lock of your journey - Bath Top Lock - there are some moorings just before the lock enabling you to visit Bath on your first evening. Cruise through six more locks, meeting the River Avon having passed through the last - Bath Deep Lock. There are a few riverside pubs en route to the charming village of Keynsham. Travel along the steeply wooded valley, through Keynsham Lock and Hanham Lock, enjoying a nice lock-free stretch towards the centre of Bristol. Cruise into Bristol Floating Harbour, where you can moor (charges apply) and walk into the centre of Bristol (20mins). The city of Bristol has many attractions, including Bristol Cathedral and Bristol Zoo, not to mention the shopping quarter and numerous pubs, bars and restaurants. 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- 57 miles, 74 locks, 33.5 hours total
Located in the heart of rural Wiltshire, the Vale of Pewsey has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Travel east across the Dundas Aqueduct and Avoncliff Aqueduct, continuing past the 13th century Tithe Barn at Bradford-on-Avon and through the lock. There are some canalside pubs en route to Semington, where you’ll cruise through two locks and commence your climb towards Devizes. After this you'll be approaching one of the UK’s largest flights of locks - the Caen Hill Flight - 29 locks rising 235ft in just 2¼ miles. Allow plenty of time to complete the flight, especially during peak season. There is a canalside café at the top of the flight, providing boaters with some much needed refreshment after their hard work. It is possible to walk into the market town of Devizes from here too. Heading away from Devizes you'll enter a more relaxing lock-free stretch, with the opportunity to stop off at the traditional canalside villages of Honey Street and then Alton Barnes to marvel at the Wiltshire chalk horse, carved into the hillside. Continue east from here until you reach the village of Pewsey. Known for its charming thatched cottages, Pewsey 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, then Foxhangers Wharf and Return – 74 miles, 42 locks, 36 hours total
Depart the boatyard, continuing west along the Kennet & Avon heading towards the city of Bath. Cruise past Sydney Gardens and through the tunnel (mooring closeby for a pleasant walk into the city). Cruise through Bath Top Lock and the short lock flight that leads onto the River Avon, including Bath Deep Lock. Continue along the River Avon past the charming village of Keynsham and through a wooded valley with two locks. After this there is a nice lock-free stretch towards the centre of Bristol. Moor at Bristol Floating Harbour (charges apply) for a 20 minute walk into the centre of Bristol. Visit numerous attractions including Bristol Cathedral and Bristol Zoo, not to mention the shopping quarter and great selection of pubs, bars and restaurants. Turn at the Floating Harbour and cruise back towards Bath. Pass the base at Monkton Combe and travel across the Dundas Aqueduct, passing the hillside village of Limpley Stoke and over the Avoncliff Aqueduct. After stopping to explore the interesting village of Bradford on Avon, cruise past a couple of canalside pubs and towards the village of Hilperton, where there is a pub, a post office and stores near the road bridge. Navigate through two locks at Semington, followed by a further five locks at Seend, mooring up alongside the towpath before the winding hole. Take a stroll up the canal to have a look at the mighty Caen Hill Flight, which consists of 29 locks in only 2 ¼ miles. Use the winding hole to turn your boat and return back to base. N.B. This route is only available to boaters with prior experience.
Active route: Great Bedwyn and Return – 74 miles, 102 locks, 46 hours total
Head east across the Dundas Aqueduct and Avoncliff Aqueduct, towards the charming town of Bradford on Avon. Pass picturesque canalside villages such as Hilperton, Semington and Seend, where there are pubs, shops and eateries available. Navigate your way through one of the wonders of the waterways - the big Caen Hill Flight of 29 locks. Moor up at Devizes Town Bridge and take a well-earned break in the cafe at the top of the flight, or walk into the old country market town of Devizes. Continuing on from Devizes, travel through beautiful, rural countryside, past historic pubs and villages until you enter the Vale of Pewsey. This charming stretch of the Kennet & Avon moves through the village of Wootton Rivers - a very pretty village, consisting of timber-framed, thatched cottages. Cruise through the 502 yard long Bruce Tunnel and a flight of locks before arriving at the idyllic village of Great Bedwyn. Moor along the towpath side before the winding hole and take a walk into the village to visit the grade I listed St Mary’s Church or have a meal at one of the pubs there.
Fortnight Route Suggestions:
Relaxed route: Bath, Hungerford and Return – 94 miles, 122 locks, 59 hours total
Start your journey heading west from the wharf along the Kennet & Avon; travelling through peaceful, open countryside and past the pretty villages of Claverton and Bathampton - where there is a canalside pub. Cruise past Sydney Gardens and through the Cleveland House Tunnel, then moor up along the towpath for a short walk into Bath city centre. Visit the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and The Royal Crescent, then indulge in a bit of retail therapy before turning your boat around just above Bath Top Lock and making your way back past the base at Monkton Combe. Cruise across the Dundas Aqueduct, bypassing the hillside village of Limpley Stoke and over the Avoncliff Aqueduct, heading towards the charming town of Bradford on Avon. Moor near Tithe Barn to visit this impressive 13th Century building, then take a walk into the town to see the stone bridge over the river, teashops, pubs and a selection of independent shops. Continue east from Bradford on Avon, passing the villages of Semington and Seend to the mighty 'Caen Hill' flight. Work your way through the 29 locks, stopping off at the top to pop into the café or to visit the historic market town of Devizes. Moving on from Devizes you’ll travel through the beautiful Vale of Pewsey; through the Bruce Tunnel (502yds) and into the village of Great Bedwyn. From here you pass through just one lock before arriving at the town of Hungerford. This quaint market town has many pubs and antique shops to visit and hosts a farmers market on Sundays. Turn by Hungerford Town Bridge, to start your journey back to Monkton Combe.
Intermediate route: Bath, Newbury and Return – 113 miles, 144 locks, 70 hours total
An interesting fortnightly cruise, allowing boaters to visit both the market town of Newbury and the historic City of Bath. Start your journey from Dundas Wharf heading west, passing the villages of Claverton and Bathampton. Cruise alongside Sydney Gardens and through the tunnel, mooring up along the towpath before Bath Top Lock for a pleasant 15 minute walk into Bath. Explore some of the main attractions there, including Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths before turning your boat around for the second part of your journey. Cruise back past the base at Monkton Combe, over the Dundas and Avoncliff Aqueducts to Bradford on Avon, stopping there to explore, shop or eat out. Continue cruising past canalside pubs and villages until you reach the impressive 29-lock Caen Hill Flight, making your way through the locks to the market town of Devizes - moor along the towpath by Ttown Bridge for a gentle walk into the centre. Make your way past the picturesque villages and towns of Pewsey, Great Bedwyn and Hungerford, stopping to look around and for refreshment. Travel through pretty woodland , bypassing beautiful water meadows as you travel towards Newbury. The historic market town of Newbury is home to many attractions including Newbury Racecourse and Highclere Castle (taxi required) 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- 140 miles, 185 locks, 90 hours total
A varied and active fortnight's cruise allowing boaters to enjoy the full length of the eastern Kennet & Avon. Cruise east from the base across the Dundas and Avoncliff Aqueducts, through the pretty town of Bradford on Avon and up the mighty Caen Hill Flight. Tackle the 29 locks and cruise on from Devizes, through breathtaking rural scenery, passing an abundance of picturesque canalside villages such as Pewsey, Great Bedwyn and Hungerford until you reach the historic market town of Newbury. Cruise through the ancient Savernake Forest - dating back to Norman times - and through the villages of Woolhampton, Aldermaston and Theale where there are pubs and eateries accessible from the towpath. Continue from Theale towards Reading, where there are moorings available on the Reading Jail Loop. Take a walk into the town where you can visit The Oracle shopping centre, multiple museums and Reading Gaol (where writer Oscar Wilde served 18 months). There are numerous restaurants, bars and pubs to sample in the town centre. Turn at the winding hole near King’s Road Bridge to begin your journey back to Monkton Combe.