kennet and avon canal

 

Sunset over The Kennet Avon CanalSunset over The Kennet Avon CanalThe canal was constructed between 1974 and 1810 to connect the River Avon at Bath and the River Kennet at Newbury, creating a water transitway between Bristol and London.

The canal section is 57 miles long, and the navigable stretch, including the rivers, is 87 miles. 

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal gradually fell into disuse after the opening of the Great Western Railway.

In the latter half of the 20th century the canal was restored in stages, largely by volunteers. After decades of dereliction and much restoration work, it was fully reopened in 1990. The Kennet and Avon Canal has been developed as a popular heritage tourism destination for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking, and cycling, and is also important for wildlife conservation.

There are more than 100 locks on the canal, the most famous being at Caen Hill near Devizes, which has 29 locks, and takes between five and six hours for barges to navigate. 

Locally, the canal passes by or through Pewsey, Wootton Rivers, Burbage, Crofton, Great Bedwyn, Little Bedwyn and Froxfield. At Burbage the canal passes though The Bruce Tunnel, the only tunnel on the entire route.

At 502 yards long, the tunnel – which took three years to construct - is named after Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury and warden of the Savernake Forest, who would not allow a deep cutting through his land and insisted on a tunnel instead.

There is no towpath through the tunnel, and walkers and cyclists must walk across the top of the hill. When canal boats were still pulled by horses, the boatmen had to haul boats through the tunnel by hand, pulling on chains that ran along the inside walls.

 

 

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