Kennet and Avon Canal
Overview
 
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

 in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles (140 km), made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section. From Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon
River Avon, Bristol
The River Avon is an English river in the south west of the country. To distinguish it from a number of other River Avons in Britain, this river is often also known as the Lower Avon or Bristol Avon...

 before the canal links it to the River Kennet
River Kennet
The Kennet is a river in the south of England, and a tributary of the River Thames. The lower reaches of the river are navigable to river craft and are known as the Kennet Navigation, which, together with the Avon Navigation, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames, links the cities of Bristol...

 at Newbury
Newbury, Berkshire
Newbury is a civil parish and the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many 17th century buildings. Newbury is best known for its racecourse and the adjoining former USAF...

, and from there to Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

 on the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

.
Encyclopedia
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

 in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles (140 km), made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section. From Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon
River Avon, Bristol
The River Avon is an English river in the south west of the country. To distinguish it from a number of other River Avons in Britain, this river is often also known as the Lower Avon or Bristol Avon...

 before the canal links it to the River Kennet
River Kennet
The Kennet is a river in the south of England, and a tributary of the River Thames. The lower reaches of the river are navigable to river craft and are known as the Kennet Navigation, which, together with the Avon Navigation, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames, links the cities of Bristol...

 at Newbury
Newbury, Berkshire
Newbury is a civil parish and the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many 17th century buildings. Newbury is best known for its racecourse and the adjoining former USAF...

, and from there to Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

 on the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

. In all, the waterway incorporates more than 100 locks
Lock (water transport)
A lock is a device for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways. The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied; whereas in a caisson lock, a boat lift, or on a canal inclined plane, it is...

.

The two river stretches were made navigable in the early 18th century, and the 57 miles (91.7 km) canal section was constructed between 1794 and 1810. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the canal gradually fell into disuse after the opening of the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

. 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
Canoeing
Canoeing is an outdoor activity that involves a special kind of canoe.Open canoes may be 'poled' , sailed, 'lined and tracked' or even 'gunnel-bobbed'....

, fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, walking
Walking
Walking is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendulum' gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step...

, and cycling
Cycling
Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...

, and is also important for wildlife conservation
Wildlife conservation
Wildlife conservation is the preservation, protection, or restoration of wildlife and their environment, especially in relation to endangered and vulnerable species. All living non-domesticated animals, even if bred, hatched or born in captivity, are considered wild animals. Wildlife represents all...

.

Early plans

The idea of an east to west waterway link across southern England was first mentioned in Elizabethan
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

 times, between 1558 and 1603, to take advantage of the proximity of the rivers Avon
River Avon, Bristol
The River Avon is an English river in the south west of the country. To distinguish it from a number of other River Avons in Britain, this river is often also known as the Lower Avon or Bristol Avon...

 and Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, only 3 miles (4.8 km) apart at their closest. Later, around 1626, Henry Briggs
Henry Briggs (mathematician)
Henry Briggs was an English mathematician notable for changing the original logarithms invented by John Napier into common logarithms, which are sometimes known as Briggsian logarithms in his honour....

 made a survey of the two rivers and noted that the land between them was level and easy to dig. He proposed a canal to connect them, but following Briggs' death in 1630 the plan was dropped. After the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 four bills
Bill (proposed law)
A bill is a proposed law under consideration by a legislature. A bill does not become law until it is passed by the legislature and, in most cases, approved by the executive. Once a bill has been enacted into law, it is called an act or a statute....

 were presented to parliament, but all failed after opposition from gentry, farmers and traders worried about cheaper water transport reducing the value of fees on turnpike roads they controlled, and cheaper produce from Wales undercutting locally produced food. The main alternative to road transport for the carriage of goods between Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 and London was a hazardous sea route through the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. The small coastal sailing ships of the day were often damaged by Atlantic storms, and risked being attacked by warships of the French navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 and privateers during a succession of conflicts with France.

Plans for a waterway were shelved until the early 18th century. In 1723 the Kennet Navigation through Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

 opened. The Avon navigation from Bristol to Bath was opened in 1727; the first cargo of "Deal boards, Pig-Lead and Meal" reached Bath in December. The two navigations were built to meet local needs independently of one another, but both under the supervision of surveyor and engineer John Hore
John Hore
John Hore was an English navigation engineer notable for engineering the River Kennet navigation in 1718.Born in Newbury, Berkshire to a line of maltsters, worked alongside his father. When his father acquired part-ownership of the River Kennet, he also invested...

. In 1788 the so-called "Western Canal" was proposed to improve trade and communication links to towns such as Hungerford
Hungerford
Hungerford is a market town and civil parish in Berkshire, England, 9 miles west of Newbury. It covers an area of and, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 5,559 .- Geography :...

, Marlborough, Wiltshire, Calne
Calne
Calne is a town in Wiltshire, southwestern England. It is situated at the northwestern extremity of the North Wessex Downs hill range, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty....

, Chippenham
Chippenham, Wiltshire
Chippenham is a market town in Wiltshire, England, located east of Bath and west of London. In the 2001 census the population of the town was recorded as 28,065....

 and Melksham
Melksham
Melksham is a medium-sized English town, lying on the River Avon. It lies in the county of Wiltshire.It is situated southeast of the city of Bath, south of Chippenham, west of Devizes and north of Warminster on the A350 national route. The 2001 UK census cited Melksham as having 20,000...

. The following year the engineers Barns, Simcock and Weston submitted a proposed route for this canal, although there were doubts about the adequacy of the water supply. The name was changed from Western Canal to Kennet and Avon Canal to avoid confusion with the Grand Western Canal
Grand Western Canal
The Grand Western Canal ran between Taunton in Somerset and Tiverton in Devon in the United Kingdom. The canal had its origins in various plans, going back to 1796, to link the Bristol Channel and the English Channel by a canal, bypassing Lands End...

, which was being proposed at the same time.

Construction

In 1793 a further survey was conducted by John Rennie, and the route of the canal was altered to take a more southerly course through Great Bedwyn
Great Bedwyn
Great Bedwyn is a village and civil parish in the east of the English county of Wiltshire.-Location:Great Bedwyn is on the River Dun about south-west of Hungerford and south-east of Marlborough, Wiltshire. The Kennet and Avon Canal and the West of England Main Line railway follow the Dun and pass...

, Devizes
Devizes
Devizes is a market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The town is about southeast of Chippenham and about east of Trowbridge.Devizes serves as a centre for banks, solicitors and shops, with a large open market place where a market is held once a week...

, Trowbridge
Trowbridge
Trowbridge is the county town of Wiltshire, England, situated on the River Biss in the west of the county, approximately 12 miles southeast of Bath, Somerset....

 and Newbury
Newbury, Berkshire
Newbury is a civil parish and the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many 17th century buildings. Newbury is best known for its racecourse and the adjoining former USAF...

. The proposed route was accepted by the Kennet and Avon Canal Company, chaired by Charles Dundas
Charles Dundas, 1st Baron Amesbury
Charles Dundas, 1st Baron Amesbury was a British politician.-Background and education:Charles was a younger son of Thomas Dundas of Fingask, MP for Orkney and Shetland and a commissioner of police in Scotland , who died on 10 April 1786...

, and the company started to take subscriptions from prospective shareholders. In July 1793 Rennie suggested further alterations to the route, including the construction of a tunnel in the Savernake Forest
Savernake Forest
Savernake Forest is on a Cretaceous chalk plateau between Marlborough and Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, England. Its area is approximately .It is privately owned by the Trustees of Savernake Estate, the Earl of Cardigan, and his family solicitor. Since 1939 the running of the forest has been...

. On 17 April 1794 the Kennet and Avon Canal Act received the Royal Assent
Royal Assent
The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law...

 and construction began. The Newbury to Hungerford section was completed in 1798, and was extended to Great Bedwyn in 1799. The section from Bath to Foxhangers was finished in 1804, and the two were linked by an iron railway until the completion of Devizes Locks in 1810.

The canal opened in 1810 after 16 years of construction. Major structures included the Dundas
Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Wessex Main Line railway from Bath to Westbury, near Limpley Stoke in Wiltshire, England....

 and Avoncliff
Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Bath to Westbury railway line, at Avoncliff in Wiltshire, England.It was built by John Rennie and chief engineer John Thomas, between 1797 and 1801....

 aqueducts, the Bruce Tunnel
Bruce Tunnel
The Bruce Tunnel is on the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal between Wootton Top Lock and Crofton Locks in Wiltshire, England.This is the only tunnel on the canal and it is 502 yards long...

 under Savernake Forest, and the pumping station
Pumping station
Pumping stations are facilities including pumps and equipment for pumping fluids from one place to another. They are used for a variety of infrastructure systems, such as the supply of water to canals, the drainage of low-lying land, and the removal of sewage to processing sites.A pumping station...

s at Claverton
Claverton Pumping Station
Claverton Pumping Station in the village of Claverton, in the English county of Somerset, pumps water from the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal using power from the flow of the River Avon. It is a grade II listed building....

 and Crofton
Crofton Pumping Station
Crofton Pumping Station is a pumping station near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire: it supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water....

, needed to overcome water supply problems. The final engineering task was the completion of the Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, between Rowde and Devizes in Wiltshire England.The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles or a 1 in 44 gradient. The locks come in three groups. The lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are...

 at Devizes.

Operation

In 1801, trade along the canal commenced, even though goods had to be unloaded at Foxhangers at the bottom of what is now Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, between Rowde and Devizes in Wiltshire England.The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles or a 1 in 44 gradient. The locks come in three groups. The lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are...

, transported up the hill by a horse-drawn railway, and reloaded into barges at the top. When the flight of locks finally opened in 1810, allowing the same vessel to navigate the entire canal, the rate of carriage per ton from London to Bath was £2 9s 6d. This compared well with carriage by road, which cost £6 3s to £7 per ton, and therefore trade on the canal flourished. In 1812, the Kennet and Avon Canal Company bought the Kennet Navigation, which stretched from Newbury to the junction with the Thames at Kennet Mouth, near Reading. The purchase from Frederick Page cost £100,000, of which £70,000 was paid in cash with the balance paid back over a period of time. The purchase was authorised by the Kennet Navigation Act of June 1813, which enabled the company to raise the funds through the sale of 5,500 shares at £24 each. At the same time work was undertaken to improve the Avon Navigation, from Bristol to Bath, with the Kennet and Avon Canal Company purchasing a majority shareholding in the Avon Navigation in 1816.

By 1818, seventy 60-ton barges were working on the canal, the majority of the tonnage being accounted for by coal and stone travelling via the Somerset Coal Canal
Somerset Coal Canal
The Somerset Coal Canal was a narrow canal in England, built around 1800 from basins at Paulton and Timsbury via Camerton, an aqueduct at Dunkerton, Combe Hay, Midford and Monkton Combe to Limpley Stoke where it joined the Kennet and Avon Canal...

. The journey from Bath to Newbury took an average of three and a half days. By 1832, 300,000 tons of freight was being carried each year and, between 1825 and 1834, the company had an annual revenue of around £45,000.

Decline

The opening of the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

 in 1841 removed much of the canal's traffic, even though the canal company lowered tariffs. In 1852 the railway company took over the canal's operation, levying high tolls at every toll point
Toll point
In the United Kingdom a toll point or toll island is a place on a canal where a fee was collected as boats carrying cargo passed. These were sited at strategic points such as the stop lock at the transition from one canal company to another where water transfer was a concern, or at busy locks where...

 and reducing the amount spent on maintenance. Ice-breaking was stopped before the winter of 1857, and traders were further encouraged by preferential tolls to use the railway rather than the canal. In 1861 a new order prohibited any traffic on the canal at night, and, in 1865, boats were forced to pass through locks in pairs to reduce water loss. By 1868 the annual tonnage had fallen from 360,610 in 1848 to 210,567. In the 1870s water abstraction
Water abstraction
Water abstraction, water extraction, or groundwater abstraction is the process of taking water from any source, either temporarily or permanently. Most water is used for irrigation or treatment to produce drinking water....

 from the canal near Fobney Lock
Fobney Lock
Fobney Lock is a lock on the River Kennet in the Small Mead area of Reading in the English county of Berkshire.Fobney Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury, and this stretch of the river is now administered by British Waterways and known as...

 followed the regulations introduced in the Reading Local Board Waterworks, Sewerage, Drainage and Improvements Act of 1870, and contributed to the silting up of locks and stretches of the canal. Several wharves and stretches of towpath were closed. In 1877 the canal recorded a deficit of £1,920 and never subsequently made any profit.

The Somerset Coal Canal
Somerset Coal Canal
The Somerset Coal Canal was a narrow canal in England, built around 1800 from basins at Paulton and Timsbury via Camerton, an aqueduct at Dunkerton, Combe Hay, Midford and Monkton Combe to Limpley Stoke where it joined the Kennet and Avon Canal...

 and Wilts and Berks Canal
Wilts and Berks Canal
The Wilts & Berks Canal is a canal in the historic counties of Wiltshire and Berkshire, England, linking the Kennet and Avon Canal at Semington, near Melksham, to the River Thames at Abingdon. The North Wilts Canal merged with it to become a branch to the Thames and Severn Canal at Latton near...

, which each supplied some of the trade from the Somerset coalfield
Somerset coalfield
The Somerset Coalfield included pits in the North Somerset, England, area where coal was mined from the 15th century until 1973.It is part of a wider coalfield which covered northern Somerset and southern Gloucestershire. It stretched from Cromhall in the north to the Mendip Hills in the south, and...

 to the Kennet and Avon, closed in 1904 and 1906 respectively. In 1926, following a loss of £18,041 the previous year, the Great Western Railway sought to close the canal by obtaining a Ministry of Transport Order, but the move was resisted and the company charged with improving its maintenance of the canal. Cargo trade continued to decline, but a few pleasure boats started to use the canal.

During the Second World War a large number of concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 bunker
Bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

s known as pillboxes were built as part of the GHQ Line
GHQ Line
The GHQ Line was a defence line built in the United Kingdom during World War II to contain an expected German invasion.The British Army had abandoned most of its equipment in France after the Dunkirk evacuation...

 to defend against an expected German invasion
British anti-invasion preparations of World War II
British anti-invasion preparations of the Second World War entailed a large-scale division of military and civilian mobilisation in response to the threat of invasion by German armed forces in 1940 and 1941. The British army needed to recover from the defeat of the British Expeditionary Force in...

, many of which are still visible along the banks of the canal. They were generally built close to road and rail bridges, which would have formed important crossing points for enemy troops and vehicles. After the war the Transport Act of 1947 meant that control of the canal passed to the British Transport Commission
British Transport Commission
The British Transport Commission was created by Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government as a part of its nationalisation programme, to oversee railways, canals and road freight transport in Great Britain...

, but by the 1950s large sections of the canal had been closed because of poor lock maintenance following a breach in the bank west of the Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Bath to Westbury railway line, at Avoncliff in Wiltshire, England.It was built by John Rennie and chief engineer John Thomas, between 1797 and 1801....

.

Closure avoided

A group supporting the restoration of the canal had been set up in the early 1950s independently of the Inland Waterways Association
Inland Waterways Association
The Inland Waterways Association was formed in 1946 as a registered charity in the United Kingdom to campaign for the conservation, use, maintenance, restoration and sensitive development of British Canals and river navigations....

, with which it was subsequently merged. In 1955 John Gould, a trader on the eastern section of the waterway, successfully petitioned against the commission's failure to maintain the waterway and obtained damages for loss of business. In March 1956 a clause in the British Transport Commission (no 2) Act was presented to parliament that would have removed the right of navigation between Reading and Bath. The Act was opposed by Gould and by the local authorities along the canal. They were supported by a 22,000-signature petition to the Queen, brought to London from Bristol by water, although parts of the canal had to be traversed by canoe. This campaign led to an inquiry by a Parliamentary Select Committee. The committee supported the suspension of the right of navigation, and the Bill passed through the House of Commons but was amended by the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 to include a clause to enforce "no further deterioration". In July 1958, the Bowes Committee published their Inquiry into Inland Waterways which specifically mentioned the Kennet and Avon finding "no justification for restoring the section from Reading to Bath".

A government white paper
White paper
A white paper is an authoritative report or guide that helps solve a problem. White papers are used to educate readers and help people make decisions, and are often requested and used in politics, policy, business, and technical fields. In commercial use, the term has also come to refer to...

 followed the Bowes Report in February 1959, recommending that an Inland Waterways Redevelopment Advisory Committee should assist schemes to regenerate canals that were no longer able to collect enough fees from tolls to pay for their upkeep. Further reports followed, and in 1962 the Advisory Committee reported that the canal should be redeveloped, and allocated £20,000 for maintenance and £20,000 to begin restoration. The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust was formed in 1962 to restore the canal from Reading to Bristol as a through navigation and as a public amenity. It was originally a voluntary group which had previously been known as the Kennet and Avon Canal Association. The Trust gained charitable status
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

 in April and was incorporated under the Companies Act
Companies Act 1948
The Companies Act 1948 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which regulated UK company law. Its descendent is the Companies Act 2006.-Cases decided under this Act:*Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd v Meyer...

 on 6 June 1962. In 1963 the newly formed British Waterways
British Waterways
British Waterways is a statutory corporation wholly owned by the government of the United Kingdom, serving as the navigation authority in England, Scotland and Wales for the vast majority of the canals as well as a number of rivers and docks...

, which was created by the Transport Act
Transport Act 1962
The Transport Act 1962 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Described as the "most momentous piece of legislation in the field of railway law to have been enacted since the Railway and Canal Traffic Act 1854", it was passed by Harold Macmillan's Conservative government to dissolve the...

 of the previous year, and replaced the British Transport Commission as the statuary body for inland waterways, took over the canal and, in partnership with the Trust and riparian local authorities, restoration work began.

Restoration

Restoration work involved a collaboration between staff from British Waterways and volunteer labour. In 1966 Sulhamstead Lock
Sulhamstead Lock
Sulhamstead Lock is a lock on the River Kennet at Sulhamstead in the English county of Berkshire.Sulhamstead Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury, and this stretch of the river is now administered by British Waterways and known as the...

 was rebuilt and the re-puddling
Puddling (engineering)
Puddle is a watertight material based on clay used in building and maintaining canals or reservoirs. Puddling is the process of lining the channel with puddle....

 of the dry section at Limpley Stoke
Limpley Stoke
Limpley Stoke is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, in the Avon Valley, between Bath and Freshford. The village is below the A36 road.The civil parish, which had a population of 637 in 2001, also includes the hamlet of Waterhouse, and the outskirts of the Somerset village of Midford. The 18th...

 was begun. In 1968, restoration work was undertaken on the Bath Locks
Bath Locks
Bath Locks are a series of locks situated on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Bath, England.Bath Bottom Lock, which is numbered as No 7 on the canal is the meeting with the River Avon just south of Pulteney Bridge...

 and Burghfield Lock
Burghfield Lock
Burghfield Lock is a lock on the River Kennet at Burghfield in the English county of Berkshire.Burghfield Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury, and this stretch of the river is now administered by British Waterways and known as the Kennet...

. In Reading at Bridge Street the navigable headroom had been reduced from 8 in 6 in (2.59 m) to 4 in 6 in (1.37 m) by strengthening girders added to the underside of the bridge. This was replaced with a new bridge enabling craft to pass more easily. The canal was reopened from the Thames to Hungerford Wharf in July 1974. Re-puddling was a long process therefore experiments with the use of heavy gauge polythene to line the canal were undertaken. The Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Bath to Westbury railway line, at Avoncliff in Wiltshire, England.It was built by John Rennie and chief engineer John Thomas, between 1797 and 1801....

 was lined with a concrete "cradle" and made water-tight in 1980.

Further works continued through the 1980s. The County Council in Berkshire
Berkshire
Berkshire is a historic county in the South of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1957, and...

, supported by local councils, estimated that £1,275,000 was needed for works at the eastern end of the canal and commenced work on replacing some of the bridges. In Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

 concerns over the limited water supply to the summit
Route summit
A route summit is the highest point on a transportation route crossing higher ground. The term is often used in describing railway routes, less often in road transportation...

, at the highest point of the canal, indicated that back-pumping would be required, which increased the estimated cost for the county to £761,560. The Wilton Water
Wilton Water
Wilton Water is a small reservoir, located near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire, which supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water....

 reservoir was estimated to produce less than 750000 gallons (3,409,567.5 l) per day, and the Seend feeder only 250000 gallons (1,136,522.5 l). Wessex Water Authority
Wessex Water
Wessex Water Services Limited, known as Wessex Water, is a water supply and sewerage utility company serving an area of the south west of England, covering 10,000 square kilometres including Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, most of Wiltshire and parts of Gloucestershire and Hampshire...

 agreed to the extraction of 1000000 gallons (4,546,090 l) per day from the Avon at Claverton to be pumped east; the costs of the pumps was £175,000.

Various fund-raising schemes, along with some financial support from local authorities, allowed small-scale work on the locks to continue, but the projected timescales for completion were missed. In 1983 the Manpower Services Commission
Manpower Services Commission
The Manpower Services Commission was a non-departmental public body of the Department of Employment Group in the United Kingdom created by Edward Heath's Conservative Government in 1973. The MSC had a remit to co-ordinate employment and training services in the UK through a ten-member commission...

, which had a remit to co-ordinate employment and training services in the United Kingdom, agreed to employ 50 men on work that included restoration of Aldermaston Lock
Aldermaston Lock
Aldermaston Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Aldermaston Wharf in the English county of Berkshire. It stands at the junction of the civil parishes of Padworth, Beenham and Aldermaston....

, its adjacent wharf, and Widmead Lock
Widmead Lock
Widmead Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, between Newbury and Thatcham, Berkshire, England.Widmead Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

. The restoration of the Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Wessex Main Line railway from Bath to Westbury, near Limpley Stoke in Wiltshire, England....

 and several smaller schemes were later added to the list. Maintenance agreements were signed with local authorities along the route, while fund-raising activities continued. The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders sponsored a workshop, which opened in Shrivenham
Shrivenham
Shrivenham is a large village and civil parish in Oxfordshire, England, close to the boundary with Wiltshire. It is in the Vale of White Horse, between Swindon and Faringdon. It was part of Berkshire until the 1974 boundary changes transferred it to Oxfordshire.-Character:Shrivenham features many...

 in 1987, to create new lock gates for the Crofton and Devizes flights. In 1988 the restoration of Woolhampton Lock
Woolhampton Lock
Woolhampton Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, in the village of Woolhampton in the English county of Berkshire. The lock has a rise/fall of and is administered by British Waterways....

 was completed, but obstructions remained on either side. Frounds swing bridge
Swing bridge
A swing bridge is a movable bridge that has as its primary structural support a vertical locating pin and support ring, usually at or near to its centre of gravity, about which the turning span can then pivot horizontally as shown in the animated illustration to the right...

 could not be opened and the restoration of Midgham Lock
Midgham Lock
Midgham Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, between Thatcham and Woolhampton, Berkshire, England.Midgham Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 had not been finished; both were completed the following year. Re-puddling of the Crofton pounds was carried out in 1989, along with the reconstruction of Midgham Bridge. Restoration of the turf-sided Monkey Marsh Lock
Monkey Marsh Lock
Monkey Marsh Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Thatcham, Berkshire, England.Monkey Marsh Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 proved difficult because of its status as a Scheduled Ancient Monument
Scheduled Ancient Monument
In the United Kingdom, a scheduled monument is a 'nationally important' archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorized change. The various pieces of legislation used for legally protecting heritage assets from damage and destruction are grouped under the term...

, and the consequent need to protect the historic site while improving safety.
The stretch between Reading and Newbury was finally completed on 17 July 1990; at a ceremony held at Monkey Marsh Lock
Monkey Marsh Lock
Monkey Marsh Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Thatcham, Berkshire, England.Monkey Marsh Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 several boats competed for the honour of becoming the first craft through. But concerns about the adequacy of the water supply still remained when Queen Elizabeth II formally reopened the canal on 8 August 1990. The Queen was able to travel on the Trust's boat Rose of Hungerford through locks 44 and 43 on the Caen Hill flight, breaking a ceremonial tape between them. The shortage of water was addressed in 1996 by the installation of new back pumps at the flight of 29 locks at Caen Hill in Devizes, at a cost of £1 million. The pumps raise water 235 feet (71.6 m) at a rate of 300000 gallons (1,363,827 l) per hour (380 litres per second). In October 1996, the Kennet & Avon Canal Partnership attracted the largest single National Lottery
National Lottery (United Kingdom)
The National Lottery is the state-franchised national lottery in the United Kingdom and the Isle of Man.It is operated by Camelot Group, to whom the licence was granted in 1994, 2001 and again in 2007. The lottery is regulated by the National Lottery Commission, and was established by the then...

 grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund
The Heritage Lottery Fund is a fund established in the United Kingdom under the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. The Fund opened for applications in 1994. It uses money raised through the National Lottery to transform and sustain the UK’s heritage...

, £25 million towards a £29 million project, to complete the restoration and to make it operational, sustainable and accessible for the enjoyment of future generations. The work funded included complete rebuilding of Foxhangers Lock and bridge at Caen Hill, replacement of lock gates at Seend and Crofton, channel lining at Claverton, embankment repairs at Martinslade, improvements at Claverton pumping station and dredging at various sites. The restoration's completion was celebrated in May 2003 by a visit from HRH Prince Charles, but upgrading and maintenance continues. Between 2002 and 2004 the Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Wessex Main Line railway from Bath to Westbury, near Limpley Stoke in Wiltshire, England....

, which had been relined with polythene and concrete
Concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 in 1984 without disturbing a colony of bats living under the aqueduct, was further restored by the replacement of engineering bricks used by the Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

 with Bath Stone
Bath Stone
Bath Stone is an Oolitic Limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate. Originally obtained from the Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines under Combe Down, Somerset, England, its warm, honey colouring gives the World Heritage City of Bath, England its distinctive appearance...

 to match the original work.

In 2011 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United Kingdom...

 designated the canal a national "cruiseway" as defined by the Transport Act 1968
Transport Act 1968
The Transport Act 1968 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The main provisions made changes to the structure of nationally owned bus companies, created passenger transport authorities and executives to take over public transport in large conurbations.-National Bus Company:The Act...

. The listing imposes a legal requirement on British Waterways to maintain the canal to a standard that ensures cruising craft can safely navigate the entire length of the waterway. In November 2011 the navigation between Bath and Bristol was closed because of safety concerns about Victoria Bridge
Victoria Bridge, Bath
Victoria Bridge in Bath, England was built in 1836 across the River Avon. The bridge has been recognised as a Grade II* listed building.The bridge is an important example of a cable-stayed bridge which initially carried horses and carts but later carried cyclists and pedestrians until its closure...

.

Route map

Bristol to Bath

The River Avon
River Avon, Bristol
The River Avon is an English river in the south west of the country. To distinguish it from a number of other River Avons in Britain, this river is often also known as the Lower Avon or Bristol Avon...

 was navigable from Bristol to Bath during the early years of the 13th century, until the construction of mills on the river forced its closure.
The modern Avon is navigable from its mouth at Avonmouth
Avonmouth
Avonmouth is a port and suburb of Bristol, England, located on the Severn Estuary, at the mouth of the River Avon.The council ward of Avonmouth also includes Shirehampton and the western end of Lawrence Weston.- Geography :...

, through the Floating Harbour in Bristol, as far as Pulteney Weir
Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Avon, in Bath, England. It was completed in 1773 and is designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building....

 in the centre of Bath. The stretch is made navigable by the use of locks and weir
Weir
A weir is a small overflow dam used to alter the flow characteristics of a river or stream. In most cases weirs take the form of a barrier across the river that causes water to pool behind the structure , but allows water to flow over the top...

s at Hanham
Hanham Lock
Hanham Lock is situated on the River Avon, at the village of Hanham near Bristol, England.Hanham Lock is the first lock east of Netham where boats leave the Bristol Floating Harbour. A weir carries the river and boats use the adjacent lock. It is numbered as 1 and is officially the first on the...

, Keynsham
Keynsham Lock
Keynsham Lock is situated on the River Avon at Keynsham, England.The lock opened in 1727.Just above the lock are some visitor moorings and a pub, on an island between the lock and the weir. The weir side of the island is also the mouth of the River Chew....

, Swineford
Swineford Lock
Swineford Lock is situated on the River Avon, at the village of Swineford, England.In its heyday, between 1709 and 1859 Swineford had an active brass and copper industry which were served by the river which also provided water power for the cloth industry....

, Saltford
Saltford Lock
Saltford Lock is situated on the River Avon, at the village of Saltford, between Bristol and Bath, England.The lock and weir are overlooked by the remains of the Kelston Brass Mill, which was working until 1925. It is a grade II listed building. Alongside the lock is a pub, whose garden extends...

, Kelston
Kelston Lock
Kelston Lock is situated on the River Avon, between the villages of Kelston and Saltford, between Bristol and Bath, England.Above and below the lock and weir are permanent moorings. The Riverside Inn and Saltford Marina are also close by.-See also:...

 and Weston
Weston Lock
Weston Lock is situated on the River Avon, on the western outskirts of Bath, England, in what now forms the Newbridge suburb of Bath.Weston cut is a man made channel, opened in 1727, for boats to approach and pass through Weston lock, which created an island between the cut and the river weir,...

, which together overcome a rise of 30 feet (9.1 m) within 12 miles (19.3 km).

Lock number one on the Kennet and Avon Canal is Hanham Lock
Hanham Lock
Hanham Lock is situated on the River Avon, at the village of Hanham near Bristol, England.Hanham Lock is the first lock east of Netham where boats leave the Bristol Floating Harbour. A weir carries the river and boats use the adjacent lock. It is numbered as 1 and is officially the first on the...

, first opened as part of the Avon Navigation in 1727. It is the first lock east of Netham, the upstream limit of the Floating Harbour, beyond the suburbs of the city of Bristol. A colliery wharf
Wharf
A wharf or quay is a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships may dock to load and unload cargo or passengers.Such a structure includes one or more berths , and may also include piers, warehouses, or other facilities necessary for handling the ships.A wharf commonly comprises a fixed...

 was sited just west of the lock, but the nearby coal mines closed in the 19th century. The river below Hanham Lock is considered to be tidal
Tide
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the Earth....

, as high tides often pass over the weir at Netham. Some spring tides pass over the weir at Hanham, making the river tidal up to Keynsham Lock
Keynsham Lock
Keynsham Lock is situated on the River Avon at Keynsham, England.The lock opened in 1727.Just above the lock are some visitor moorings and a pub, on an island between the lock and the weir. The weir side of the island is also the mouth of the River Chew....

. Heading east, the river passes the Somerdale Factory
Somerdale Factory
Somerdale was a chocolate factory located in Keynsham near Bristol in south west England. It was the home of a Cadbury plc's production facility, and was originally built by the Fry family when they expanded through consolidation of a number of existing facilities located in the centre of...

, on its southern bank, which was a chocolate production factory for Cadbury plc – originally built by the Fry family
J. S. Fry & Sons
J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd. was a British chocolate company owned by Joseph Storrs Fry and his family.This business moved through several names and hands before ending up as J. S. Fry & Sons.- History :*circa 1759 — Joseph Fry starts making chocolate...

 in the 1920s and '30s. On the northern bank is Cleeve Wood
Cleeve Wood, Hanham
Cleeve Wood, Hanham is a is an 8.9 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in South Gloucestershire, notified in 1966.Cleeve Wood is situated on the steep south facing slopes of the River Avon valleynear to the City of Bristol....

, the primary scientific importance of which lies in its particularly large population of Bath Asparagus (Ornithogalum pyrenaicum
Ornithogalum pyrenaicum
Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, also called Prussian asparagus, wild asparagus, Bath Asparagus, Pyrenees star of Bethlehem or spiked star of Bethlehem, is a plant whose young flower shoots may be eaten as a vegetable, similar to asparagus.The common name "Bath Asparagus" comes from the fact it was once...

).
A public house has been built on the island between Keynsham Lock and the weir. The weir side of the island is also the mouth of the River Chew
River Chew
The River Chew is a small river in England. It merges with the River Avon after forming the Chew Valley.The spring from which the Chew rises is just upstream from Chewton Mendip. The river flows North West from Chewton Mendip through Litton, Chew Valley Lake, Chew Stoke, Chew Magna and Stanton Drew...

.
The river then passes through Avon Valley Country Park
Avon Valley Country Park
Avon Valley Country Park is a Country park in Keynsham, Somerset, England.The park which is next to the River Avon provides country walks, a boating lake, play areas for children, a small petting zoo and a miniature railway....

 and past Stidham Farm
Stidham Farm
Stidham Farm is a 17.3 hectare geological Site of Special Scientific Interest near the town of Keynsham, Bath and North East Somerset, notified in 1991....

, another SSSI that contains Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 terrace-gravels of the river. A depth of at least 7 feet (2 m) of sandy gravels are recorded, consisting mainly of limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 clasts, but also with Millstone Grit
Millstone Grit
Millstone Grit is the name given to any of a number of coarse-grained sandstones of Carboniferous age which occur in the Northern England. The name derives from its use in earlier times as a source of millstones for use principally in watermills...

, Pennant Sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

, flint, and chert clasts. The river passes under the old railway line that now forms the Avon Valley Railway
Avon Valley Railway
The Avon Valley Railway is a three-mile-long heritage railway based at Bitton station in South Gloucestershire, England, not far from Bristol and is run by a local group: The Avon Valley Railway Company Ltd. The railway follows the Avon Valley south-east from Oldland Common, through Bitton and...

, a three-mile-long heritage railway
Heritage railway
thumb|right|the Historical [[Khyber train safari|Khyber Railway]] goes through the [[Khyber Pass]], [[Pakistan]]A heritage railway , preserved railway , tourist railway , or tourist railroad is a railway that is run as a tourist attraction, in some cases by volunteers, and...

, before reaching Swineford Lock
Swineford Lock
Swineford Lock is situated on the River Avon, at the village of Swineford, England.In its heyday, between 1709 and 1859 Swineford had an active brass and copper industry which were served by the river which also provided water power for the cloth industry....

. Here, between 1709 and 1859, there was an active brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

 and copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 industry served by the river, which also provided water power for the cloth industry. The remains of Kelston
Kelston
Kelston is a small village and civil parish in Somerset, north west of Bath, and east of Bristol, on the A431 road. It is situated just north of the River Avon, close to the Kelston and Saltford locks...

 Brass Mill, which was working until 1925, are next to Saltford Lock
Saltford Lock
Saltford Lock is situated on the River Avon, at the village of Saltford, between Bristol and Bath, England.The lock and weir are overlooked by the remains of the Kelston Brass Mill, which was working until 1925. It is a grade II listed building. Alongside the lock is a pub, whose garden extends...

. The lock was opened in 1727 but destroyed by rival coal dealers in 1738, to prevent the river being used for transportation.

The Bristol & Bath Railway Path crosses the navigation several times before reaching the suburb of Newbridge
Newbridge, Bath
Newbridge is a largely residential electoral ward within Bath, England. Informally, Newbridge refers to the area of Bath that roughly corresponds to the ward boundaries....

 on the outskirts of Bath. Here the A4 crosses close to the Newton St Loe SSSI, which is designated an SSSI because it represents the only remaining known exposure of fossiliferous Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 gravels containing the remains of mammoth
Mammoth
A mammoth is any species of the extinct genus Mammuthus. These proboscideans are members of Elephantidae, the family of elephants and mammoths, and close relatives of modern elephants. They were often equipped with long curved tusks and, in northern species, a covering of long hair...

s (Mammuthus) and horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s (Equus) along the river, and has aided the development of a scientific understanding of the history of early glaciation in South West England
South West England
South West England is one of the regions of England defined by the Government of the United Kingdom for statistical and other purposes. It is the largest such region in area, covering and comprising Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. ...

. The final lock before entering Bath is Weston Lock
Weston Lock
Weston Lock is situated on the River Avon, on the western outskirts of Bath, England, in what now forms the Newbridge suburb of Bath.Weston cut is a man made channel, opened in 1727, for boats to approach and pass through Weston lock, which created an island between the cut and the river weir,...

, opened in 1727. Its construction created an island between the cut
Cut (earthmoving)
In civil engineering, a cut or cutting is where soil or rock material from a hill or mountain is cut out to make way for a canal, road or railway line....

 and the river weir, which became known as Dutch Island after the owner of the brass mill established on the riverside in the early 18th century.

Bath to Devizes

The restored Bath Bottom Lock marks the divergence of the River Avon and the canal. It is situated south of Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Avon, in Bath, England. It was completed in 1773 and is designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building....

. Just upstream of the Bottom Lock are a side pound
Canal pound
A canal pound, aka reach, is the stretch of level water impounded between two canal locks. Canal pounds can vary in length from the non-existent, where two or more immediately adjacent locks form a lock staircase, to many miles....

 and a pumping station that pumps water "upstream" of the locks, to replace that used each time a boat passes through. The next of the six Bath Locks
Bath Locks
Bath Locks are a series of locks situated on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Bath, England.Bath Bottom Lock, which is numbered as No 7 on the canal is the meeting with the River Avon just south of Pulteney Bridge...

 is Bath Deep Lock, numbered 8/9 as two locks were combined when the canal was restored in 1976. The new chamber has a depth of 19 in 5 in (5.92 m), making it the UK's second-deepest canal lock. Just above the Deep Lock is another side pound as a reservoir for refilling the lock, followed by Wash House Lock. After a slightly longer pound is Abbey View Lock, beside which there is another pumping station and then, in quick succession, Pultney Lock and Bath Top Lock.

Above the Top Lock the canal passes through Sydney Gardens via two short tunnel
Tunnel
A tunnel is an underground passageway, completely enclosed except for openings for egress, commonly at each end.A tunnel may be for foot or vehicular road traffic, for rail traffic, or for a canal. Some tunnels are aqueducts to supply water for consumption or for hydroelectric stations or are sewers...

s and under two cast iron footbridges dating from 1800. Cleveland Tunnel is 173 feet (52.7 m) long and runs under Cleveland House, the former headquarters of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company and now a Grade II* listed building. A trap-door in the tunnel roof was used to pass paperwork between clerks above and bargees below. Many of the bridges over the canal are listed buildings.
On the eastern outskirts of Bath a toll bridge near the George Inn links Bathampton
Bathampton
Bathampton is a village and civil parish east of Bath, England on the south bank of the River Avon. The parish has a population of 1,504.The Kennet and Avon Canal passes through the village and a toll bridge links Bathampton to Batheaston on the north bank of the canal.-History:Bathampton Camp is...

 to Batheaston
Batheaston
Batheaston is a village and civil parish east of Bath, England , on the north bank of the River Avon. The parish has a population of 2,625...

, on the north bank of the canal. When the A46
A46 road
The A46 is an A road in England. It starts east of Bath, Somerset and ends in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, but it does not form a continuous route. Large portions of the old road have been lost, bypassed, or replaced by motorway development...

 Bathampton by-pass was built, the 22 acres (8.9 ha) Bathampton Meadow was created to provide additional flood relief. The resultant wet meadows and oxbow lake
Oxbow lake
An oxbow lake is a U-shaped body of water formed when a wide meander from the main stem of a river is cut off to create a lake. This landform is called an oxbow lake for the distinctive curved shape, named after part of a yoke for oxen. In Australia, an oxbow lake is called a billabong, derived...

 have proved attractive to a number of migrants; wading birds
Wader
Waders, called shorebirds in North America , are members of the order Charadriiformes, excluding the more marine web-footed seabird groups. The latter are the skuas , gulls , terns , skimmers , and auks...

 such as dunlin
Dunlin
The Dunlin, Calidris alpina, is a small wader, sometimes separated with the other "stints" in Erolia. It is a circumpolar breeder in Arctic or subarctic regions. Birds that breed in northern Europe and Asia are long-distance migrants, wintering south to Africa, southeast Asia and the Middle East...

, ringed and little ringed plover
Plover
Plovers are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae. There are about 40 species in the subfamily, most of them called "plover" or "dotterel". The closely related lapwing subfamily, Vanellinae, comprises another 20-odd species.Plovers are found throughout...

, and green and common sandpiper are frequent visitors in spring and autumn. Sand martin
Sand Martin
The Sand Martin is a migratory passerine bird in the swallow family. It has a wide range in summer, embracing practically the whole of Europe and the Mediterranean countries, part of northern Asia and also North America. It winters in eastern and southern Africa, South America and South Asia...

 and kingfisher
Kingfisher
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australia...

 have been seen regularly by the lake, and other migrants have included yellow wagtail, whinchat
Whinchat
The Whinchat Saxicola rubetra is a small migratory passerine bird breeding in Europe and western Asia and wintering in Africa.Its scientific name means "small rock-dweller", in reference to its habitat...

 and hobby
Hobby (bird)
A hobby is a fairly small, very swift falcon with long, narrow wings. There are four birds called hobby, and some others which, although termed falcon, are very similar. All specialise in being superb aerialists...

. The canal turns south into a valley between Bathampton Wood and Bathford Hill which includes Brown's Folly
Brown's Folly
Brown's Folly is a 39.9 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest near the village of Bathford in Bath and North East Somerset, notified in 1974. Also known as Farleigh Down Stone Quarry, it is operated as a nature reserve by the Avon Wildlife Trust .Brown's Folly is...

 a 99 acres (40.1 ha) biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.

In the Avon Valley to the east of Bath the classic geographical example of a valley with all four forms of ground transport is found: road, rail, river, canal. The canal passes the remains of a loading dock, once used for Bath Stone
Bath Stone
Bath Stone is an Oolitic Limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate. Originally obtained from the Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines under Combe Down, Somerset, England, its warm, honey colouring gives the World Heritage City of Bath, England its distinctive appearance...

 from the quarries on Bathampton Down
Bathampton Down
Bathampton Down, is a flat limestone plateau in Bathampton overlooking Bath, and the River Avon, Somerset, England.There is evidence of man's activity at the site since the Mesolithic period including Bathampton Camp, an Iron Age hillfort or stock enclosure...

, which was carried down a straight track to the canal over the Dry Arch rock bridge (demolished in 1958 to allow double-decker buses to use the A36
A36 road
The A36 is a trunk road and primary route in England that links the port city of Southampton to the city of Bath. At Bath, the A36 connects with the A4 road to Bristol, thus enabling a road link between the major ports of Southampton and Bristol. Originally, the A36 continued onto Avonmouth, but...

). Next, the canal passes the waterwheel-powered Claverton Pumping Station
Claverton Pumping Station
Claverton Pumping Station in the village of Claverton, in the English county of Somerset, pumps water from the River Avon to the Kennet and Avon Canal using power from the flow of the River Avon. It is a grade II listed building....

, which pumped water from the River Avon into the canal. The building was completed in 1810 and the pump was working by 1813.

On the eastern bank Warleigh Wood and Inwood
Inwood, Warleigh
Inwood, Warleigh is a 56.9 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, notified in 1988.-Source:* -External links:*...

 are ash-wych elm and dry ash-maple woodland, which comes right down to the canal.
The canal then crosses over the river and the Wessex Main Line
Wessex Main Line
The Wessex Main Line is the railway line from Bristol Temple Meads to Southampton. Diverging from this route is the Heart of Wessex Line from Westbury to Weymouth.- Places served :The places served are listed below.*Bristol*Keynsham*Oldfield Park*Bath...

 railway at the Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct
Dundas Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Wessex Main Line railway from Bath to Westbury, near Limpley Stoke in Wiltshire, England....

, past Conkwell Wood, before recrossing the river and railway at the Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct
Avoncliff Aqueduct carries the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon and the Bath to Westbury railway line, at Avoncliff in Wiltshire, England.It was built by John Rennie and chief engineer John Thomas, between 1797 and 1801....

. At the western end of the Dundas Aqueduct it is joined by the remains of the Somerset Coal Canal
Somerset Coal Canal
The Somerset Coal Canal was a narrow canal in England, built around 1800 from basins at Paulton and Timsbury via Camerton, an aqueduct at Dunkerton, Combe Hay, Midford and Monkton Combe to Limpley Stoke where it joined the Kennet and Avon Canal...

, a short stretch of which has been restored to create the Brassknocker Basin. Excavations of the old stop lock showed that it was originally a broad 14 feet (4 m) lock that at some point was narrowed to 7 feet (2 m) by moving the lock wall. The Somerset Coal Canal was built around 1800 from basins at Paulton
Paulton
Paulton is a large village and civil parish, with a population of 4,896, located to the north of the Mendip Hills, in the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset , England....

 and Timsbury
Timsbury, Somerset
Timsbury is a village and civil parish in the Bath and North East Somerset unitary authority of the county of Somerset, south-west of Bath England...

, giving access to London from the Somerset Coalfield
Somerset coalfield
The Somerset Coalfield included pits in the North Somerset, England, area where coal was mined from the 15th century until 1973.It is part of a wider coalfield which covered northern Somerset and southern Gloucestershire. It stretched from Cromhall in the north to the Mendip Hills in the south, and...

, which at its peak contained 80 collieries.

After the Avoncliff Aqueduct the canal passes through Barton Farm Country Park
Country park
A country park is an area designated for people to visit and enjoy recreation in a countryside environment.-History:In the United Kingdom the term 'Country Park' has a special meaning. There are over 400 Country Parks in England alone . Most Country Parks were designated in the 1970s, under the...

, past Gripwood Quarry
Gripwood Quarry
Gripwood Quarry is a 2.9 hectare geological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, notified in 1951.The quarry is of Oolitic limestone and one single quarry with a wall in the middle creating an upper and a lower quarry, last used for mushroom growing...

 and a 14th-century Grade II* listed tithe barn
Tithe barn
A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing the tithes - a tenth of the farm's produce which had to be given to the church....

, 180 feet (55 m) long and 30 feet (9 m) wide, on its way into Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon is a town in west Wiltshire, England with a population of about 9,326. The town's canal, historic buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants make it popular with tourists....

.

The first sod for the Kennet and Avon Canal was turned in Bradford on Avon in 1794, and soon there were wharves above and below Bradford Lock
Bradford Lock
Bradford Lock is situated at Bradford on Avon on the Kennet and Avon Canal, England.It was in Bradford on Avon that the first sod was cut for the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1794 and had wharves above and below the lock. The lock has a rise/fall of 12 ft 6 inches .There are moorings above...

. Further east, an aqueduct carries the canal over the River Biss
River Biss
The River Biss is a small river in Wiltshire, England and is a tributary of the Avon. The name is of uncertain origin; it is claimed that the word is from the Old Norse bisa, meaning "to strive".-Progress:...

. There are locks at Semington
Semington Locks
The Semington Locks are situated at Semington, Wiltshire on the Kennet and Avon Canal, England.Both the locks at Semington were built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury...

 and Seend
Seend Locks
Seend Locks are at Seend Cleeve, Wiltshire on the Kennet and Avon Canal, England.The five locks were built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. They have a rise/fall of 38 ft 4ins ....

, where water flows into the canal from the Summerham Brook, otherwise known as the Seend Feeder. In the village of Semington
Semington
Semington is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The village is about south of Melksham and about northeast of Trowbridge.The parish includes the hamlets of Littlemarsh and Littleton....

 the Wilts & Berks Canal joined the canal, linking the Kennet and Avon to the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

 at Abingdon
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Abingdon or archaically Abingdon-on-Thames is a market town and civil parish in Oxfordshire, England. It is the seat of the Vale of White Horse district. Previously the county town of Berkshire, Abingdon is one of several places that claim to be Britain's oldest continuously occupied town, with...

. The North Wilts Canal merged with it to become a branch to the Thames and Severn Canal
Thames and Severn Canal
The Thames and Severn Canal is a canal in Gloucestershire in the south of England, which was completed in 1789. It was conceived as part of a canal route from Bristol to London. At its eastern end, it connects to the River Thames at Inglesham Lock near Lechlade, while at its western end, it...

 at Latton
Latton, Wiltshire
Latton is a village near Cricklade in Wiltshire, England. The Church of England parish church of Saint John the Baptist is a Grade I listed building. There is a village hall and a park but no shop or post office. Nearby ran the Thames and Severn Canal with its junction to the former North Wilts...

 near Cricklade
Cricklade
Cricklade is a town and civil parish on the River Thames in north Wiltshire in England, midway between Swindon and Cirencester.On 25 September 2011 Cricklade was awarded The Royal Horticultural Society's 'Champion of Champions' award in the Britain in Bloom competition.Cricklade is twinned with...

. The 52 miles (83.7 km) canal was opened in 1810, but abandoned in 1914 – a fate hastened by the collapse of Stanley Aqueduct in 1901. In 1977 the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust is a registered charity no. 299595, and a waterway society based in Wiltshire, England, concerned with the restoration of the Wilts & Berks Canal....

 was formed with the aim of fully restoring the canal to re-connect the Kennet and Avon to the upper reaches of the Thames.

Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill Locks
Caen Hill Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, between Rowde and Devizes in Wiltshire England.The 29 locks have a rise of 237 feet in 2 miles or a 1 in 44 gradient. The locks come in three groups. The lower seven locks, Foxhangers Wharf Lock to Foxhangers Bridge Lock, are...

, at Devizes
Devizes
Devizes is a market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The town is about southeast of Chippenham and about east of Trowbridge.Devizes serves as a centre for banks, solicitors and shops, with a large open market place where a market is held once a week...

, provides an insight into the engineering needed to build and maintain the canal. The main flight of 16 locks, which take 5–6 hours to navigate in a boat, is part of a longer series of 29 locks built in three groups: seven at Foxhangers, sixteen at Caen Hill, and six at the town end of the flight. The total rise is 237 feet (72 m) in 2 miles (3.2 km) or a 1 in 30 gradient. The locks were the last part of the 87 miles (140 km) route of the canal to be completed. The steepness of the terrain meant that there was no space to use the normal arrangement of water pounds between the locks. As a result the 16 locks utilise unusually large side ponds to store the water needed for their operation. Because a large volume of water is needed a back pump was installed at Foxhangers in 1996, capable of returning 7 million imperial gallons (32 million litres) of water per day to the top of the flight, equivalent to one lockful every 11 minutes. While the locks were under construction in the early 19th century a tramroad provided a link between Foxhangers at the bottom of the flight and Devizes at the top, the remains of which can be seen in the towpath arches in the road bridges over the canal. From 1829 until 1843 the flight, which includes the narrowest lock on the canal, Lock 41, was illuminated by gas lights.

At the top of the flight is Devizes Wharf, home to the Kennet & Avon Canal Museum
Kennet & Avon Canal Museum
The Kennet & Avon Canal Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire, England and has a range of exhibits about the conception, design, usage and eventual commercial decline of the Kennet and Avon Canal, as well as its subsequent restoration....

, which has a range of exhibits on the conception, design, usage, and eventual commercial decline of the Kennet and Avon Canal, as well as its subsequent restoration. It is operated by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, which has its headquarters and a shop within the Canal Centre. The Wharf Theatre is in an old warehouse on the same site. Devizes wharf is the starting point for the Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon
Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon
The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon is a marathon canoe race in England. The race is held every Easter over a course of from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster in central London. It has been run since 1948. Starting at Devizes wharf, the route follows the Kennet and Avon...

, which has been held every year since 1948.

Devizes to Newbury

Heading east from Devizes the canal passes through the Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

 countryside and a series of locks and swing bridge
Swing bridge
A swing bridge is a movable bridge that has as its primary structural support a vertical locating pin and support ring, usually at or near to its centre of gravity, about which the turning span can then pivot horizontally as shown in the animated illustration to the right...

s before another flight of locks at Crofton
Crofton Locks
Crofton Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near the village of Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England.The nine locks achieve a total rise/fall of 61 ft 0 in and were built under the supervision of engineer John Rennie...

.
At Honeystreet is the remains of a wharf that was the home of boat builders Robbins, Lane and Pinnegar, which served as the boat building headquarters of the Canal Company. They built many of the boats used on the canals of southern England before closing in about 1950. Next to the wharf is the Barge Inn, a substantial public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

 once known as the George Inn. It was roughly half-way along the canal and served as a bakehouse, slaughterhouse, and shop for provisions for those living and working on the canal. The building was destroyed by fire in 1858 and rebuilt within six months. It was built just within the parish boundary of Stanton St Bernard
Stanton St Bernard
Stanton St Bernard is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. Its nearest town is Devizes, about away to the west.All significant local government services are provided by Wiltshire Council, with its headquarters in Trowbridge, and the parish is represented there by Brigadier Robert Hall...

 to "serve the Honey Street wharf in Alton
Alton, Wiltshire
Alton is a civil parish in the English county of Wiltshire. It comprises the twin villages of Alton Barnes and Alton Priors, together with the nearby hamlet of Honeystreet on the Kennet and Avon Canal....

 parish, which refused to allow drinking establishments".

Jones's Mill
Jones's Mill
Jones's Mill is a 11.6 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, notified in 1975.-Source:* -External links:*...

 is a 29 acres (11.7 ha) area of fen vegetation, scrub, and woodland lying along the headwaters of the Salisbury Avon northeast of Pewsey
Pewsey
Pewsey is a large village, often considered a small town, at the centre of the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire about west of London. It is well connected to London, the West Country and Wales being close to the M4 motorway and the A303. Also, the village is served by Pewsey railway station on the...

. It has been designated a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest because it is "the best known example of a calcareous valley mire in Wiltshire".

The four locks at Wootton Rivers
Wootton Rivers
Wootton Rivers is a small village located between Pewsey and Marlborough in Wiltshire.-The village:The village and its church are built on what was originally the site of a Saxon manor house. At the start of the 14th century it came into the hands of the de la Riviere family, after whom it is now...

 mark the end of the climb from the Avon. Between Wootton Top Lock
Wootton Top Lock
Wootton Top Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Wootton Rivers, Wiltshire, England.Wootton Top Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 and Crofton is the summit pound of the canal at 450 feet (137.2 m) above sea level
Sea level
Mean sea level is a measure of the average height of the ocean's surface ; used as a standard in reckoning land elevation...

, stretching for about 2 miles (3.2 km) and including the 502 yards (459 m) long Bruce Tunnel
Bruce Tunnel
The Bruce Tunnel is on the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal between Wootton Top Lock and Crofton Locks in Wiltshire, England.This is the only tunnel on the canal and it is 502 yards long...

. The tunnel is named after the local land owner, Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury
Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury
Thomas Brudenell-Bruce, 1st Earl of Ailesbury KT . The son of George Brudenell, 3rd Earl of Cardigan and Hon. Elizabeth Bruce, he succeeded his uncle as 2nd Baron Bruce of Tottenham on the latter's death on 10 February 1747. He changed his name Brudenell by Royal license to Brudenell-Bruce...

 (1729–1814), who refused to allow a deep cutting through his property and insisted on a tunnel. The tunnel has red brick portals, capped with Bath Stone
Bath Stone
Bath Stone is an Oolitic Limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate. Originally obtained from the Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines under Combe Down, Somerset, England, its warm, honey colouring gives the World Heritage City of Bath, England its distinctive appearance...

, each with a decorative stone plaque of Bristol Pennant Limestone. The tunnel was begun in 1806 and finished in 1809. It is lined with English bond brickwork and has a wide bore to cope with the Newbury barges used on the canal. There is no towpath through the tunnel, therefore walkers and cyclists must walk across the top of the hill. When canal boats were pulled by horses the boatmen had to haul their barges through the tunnel by hand, pulling on chains that ran along the inside walls.

The Crofton Locks
Crofton Locks
Crofton Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near the village of Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England.The nine locks achieve a total rise/fall of 61 ft 0 in and were built under the supervision of engineer John Rennie...

 flight marks the start of the descent from the summit to the Thames; the nine locks have a total rise/fall of 61 feet (18.6 m). When the canal was built there were no reliable water sources available to fill the summit by normal gravitational means. A number of usable springs were found adjacent to the canal route about one mile (2 km) east of the summit pound, and about 40 feet (12.2 m) below it, and arrangements were made for them to feed the pound below lock 60 at Crofton. Some years later the Wilton Water
Wilton Water
Wilton Water is a small reservoir, located near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire, which supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water....

 reservoir was created to enhance the supply to this pound using the springs and the River Dun.
Water is pumped to the summit at the western end of the locks, from Wilton Water, by the restored Crofton Pumping Station
Crofton Pumping Station
Crofton Pumping Station is a pumping station near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire: it supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water....

. The original steam-powered pumping station is preserved and contains one of the oldest operational Watt-style beam engines
Watt steam engine
The Watt steam engine was the first type of steam engine to make use of steam at a pressure just above atmospheric to drive the piston helped by a partial vacuum...

 in the world, dating from 1812. The steam engines still pump water on selected weekends, but for day-to-day operation electric pumps are used, automatically controlled by the water level in the summit pound.

Near Crofton are Savernake Forest
Savernake Forest
Savernake Forest is on a Cretaceous chalk plateau between Marlborough and Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire, England. Its area is approximately .It is privately owned by the Trustees of Savernake Estate, the Earl of Cardigan, and his family solicitor. Since 1939 the running of the forest has been...

 and the remains of a railway bridge that carried the Midland and South Western Junction Railway
Midland and South Western Junction Railway
The Midland and South Western Junction Railway was, until the 1923 Grouping, an independent railway built to form a north-south link between the Midland and London and South Western Railways allowing the Midland and other companies' trains to reach the port of Southampton.-Formation:The M&SWJR...

 over the canal. Mill Bridge at Great Bedwyn
Great Bedwyn
Great Bedwyn is a village and civil parish in the east of the English county of Wiltshire.-Location:Great Bedwyn is on the River Dun about south-west of Hungerford and south-east of Marlborough, Wiltshire. The Kennet and Avon Canal and the West of England Main Line railway follow the Dun and pass...

 is unusual in being a skew arch
Skew arch
A skew arch is a method of construction that enables an arch bridge to span an obstacle at some angle other than a right angle. This results in the faces of the arch not being perpendicular to its abutments and its plan view being a parallelogram, rather than the rectangle that is the plan view of...

; on its completion in 1796 it was the first of its kind. From there to Hungerford
Hungerford
Hungerford is a market town and civil parish in Berkshire, England, 9 miles west of Newbury. It covers an area of and, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 5,559 .- Geography :...

 the canal follows the valley of the River Dun through Freeman's Marsh
Freeman's Marsh
Freeman's Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Hungerford in the English county of Berkshire.Located at , the site consists of unimproved meadows, marsh and reedbed. It is an important site for overwintering, migratory and breeding birds and supports many varieties...

, which consists of unimproved meadows, marsh, and reedbed. It is an important site for overwintering, migratory and breeding birds, and supports many varieties of flora scarce in Southern England. It was cited by English Nature
English Nature
English Nature was the United Kingdom government agency that promoted the conservation of wildlife, geology and wild places throughout England between 1990 and 2006...

 in 1986, and forms part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
North Wessex Downs AONB
The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is located in the English counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire...

. There are plans to construct a marina and hotel complex adjacent to the site, but the potential environmental impacts (particularly to water voles) of such a development on Freeman's Marsh have led to local opposition. To the north of the canal are seven separate small areas, four in the Kennet Valley and three in the Lambourn Valley
River Lambourn
The River Lambourn is a chalk stream in the English county of Berkshire. It rises in the Berkshire Downs near its namesake village of Lambourn and is a tributary of the River Kennet, which is itself a tributary of the River Thames.-Perennial River:...

, which make up the Kennet and Lambourn Floodplain
Kennet and Lambourn Floodplain
The Kennet and Lambourn Floodplain is a 22.9 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Berkshire and Wiltshire, notified in 1996. It comprises seven separate small areas, four in the Kennet Valley and three in the Lambourn Valley...

 SSSI. Occupying a total of 57 acres (23.1 ha), it supports particularly large populations of Desmoulin's whorl snail
Desmoulin's whorl snail
Desmoulin's whorl snail, scientific name Vertigo moulinsiana, is a species of minute air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc or micromollusc in the family Vertiginidae, the vertigo snails....

.
There are several locks and bridges in Hungerford, including one which carries the A338
A338 road
The A338 is a major trunk road in southern England, that runs from the junction with the A35 at Bournemouth in Dorset to the junction with the A420 at Besselsleigh in Oxfordshire, roughly long.-Route:...

. Hungerford Marsh Lock
Hungerford Marsh Lock
Hungerford Marsh Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Hungerford, Berkshire, England.Hungerford Marsh Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 is unique on the Kennet and Avon Canal in that it has a swing bridge directly over the centre of the lock that must be opened before the lock may be used. In the area around the lock, called Hungerford Marsh Nature Reserve, more than 120 bird species have been recorded.

Between Kintbury Lock
Kintbury Lock
Kintbury Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Kintbury, Berkshire, England.Kintbury Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways. The lock has a rise/fall of .-References:...

 and Newbury, passing to the north of Hamstead Marshall
Hamstead Marshall
Hamstead Marshall is a village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. Although the village name is spelt Hamstead Marshall, the alternative Hampstead Marshall was quite commonly used in the past, and remains the official name of the civil parish...

, the canal is very close to the River Kennet, which flows into the canal via several channels. The canal passes through an area known as the Kennet Valley Alderwoods
Kennet Valley Alderwoods
Kennet Valley Alderwoods is a 56.8 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parishes of Welford and Speen in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1997....

, the largest remaining fragments of damp, ash-alder woodland in the River Kennet floodplain
Floodplain
A floodplain, or flood plain, is a flat or nearly flat land adjacent a stream or river that stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls and experiences flooding during periods of high discharge...

. The SSSI includes two woods – the Wilderness and part of Ryott's Plantation – which are important because they support a very great diversity of plants associated with this woodland type, dominated by Alder (Alnus glutinosa); though Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is abundant in places and there is occasional Oak
Pedunculate Oak
Quercus robur is commonly known as the Pedunculate Oak or English oak. It is native to most of Europe, and to Anatolia to the Caucasus, and also to parts of North Africa.-Taxonomy:Q...

 (Quercus robur) and Wych Elm
Wych Elm
Ulmus glabra, the Wych elm or Scots elm, has the widest range of the European elm species, from Ireland eastwards to the Urals, and from the Arctic Circle south to the mountains of the Peloponnese in Greece; it is also found in Iran...

 (Ulmus glabra). In addition to the wide range of higher plants the woods support a diverse bryophyte
Bryophyte
Bryophyte is a traditional name used to refer to all embryophytes that do not have true vascular tissue and are therefore called 'non-vascular plants'. Some bryophytes do have specialized tissues for the transport of water; however since these do not contain lignin, they are not considered to be...

 flora including the uncommon epiphytes Radula complanata, Zygodon viridissimus and Orthotrichum affine. Nearby is Irish Hill Copse
Irish Hill Copse
Irish Hill Copse is a 16 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Hamstead Marshall in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1984....

. This site of coppiced ancient woodland
Ancient woodland
Ancient woodland is a term used in the United Kingdom to refer specifically to woodland that has existed continuously since 1600 or before in England and Wales . Before those dates, planting of new woodland was uncommon, so a wood present in 1600 was likely to have developed naturally...

 includes an extensive area of calcareous ash/wych elm coppice on the hill sides, merging into wet ash
Ash tree
Fraxinus is a genus flowering plants in the olive and lilac family, Oleaceae. It contains 45-65 species of usually medium to large trees, mostly deciduous though a few subtropical species are evergreen. The tree's common English name, ash, goes back to the Old English æsc, while the generic name...

/maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

 and acid oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

/ash/hazel
Hazel
The hazels are a genus of deciduous trees and large shrubs native to the temperate northern hemisphere. The genus is usually placed in the birch family Betulaceae, though some botanists split the hazels into a separate family Corylaceae.They have simple, rounded leaves with double-serrate margins...

 woodland with aspen
Aspen
Populus section Populus, of the Populus genus, includes the aspen trees and the white poplar Populus alba. The five typical aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. The White Poplar, by...

, on the higher parts of the site. The lower slopes are dominated by Dog's Mercury
Dog's Mercury
Mercurialis perennis, commonly known as dog's mercury, is a woodland plant found in much of Europe, but almost absent from Ireland, Orkney and Shetland. A member of the spurge family , it is a herbaceous, downy perennial with erect stems bearing simple, serrate leaves. The dioecious inflorescences...

 (Mercurialis perennis), with abundant Herb Paris
Paris quadrifolia
Paris quadrifolia is a species of the genus Paris in the family Melanthiaceae, although authorities formerly regarded it as part of the Liliaceae family. It is related to Trillium, with which it can be confused...

 (Paris quadrifolia), Toothwort
Toothwort
Toothwort is a small genus of five to seven species of flowering plants, native to temperate Europe and Asia. They are parasitic plants on the roots of other plants, and are completely lacking chlorophyll. They are classified in the family Orobanchaceae. In addition, Cardamine concatenata is also...

 (Lathraea squamaria), Solomon's seal
Polygonatum
Polygonatum , King Solomon's-seal or Solomon's Seal, is a genus of about 50 species of flowering plants. In the APG III classification system, it is placed in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Nolinoideae...

 (Polygonatum multiflorum), Twayblade and Early Purple Orchid
Early Purple Orchid
Orchis mascula, the Early Purple Orchid, is a species of orchid in the genus Orchis.-Etymology:The specific name is derived from the Latin "masculus", meaning "male" or "virile" and it should refer to the robust aspect of this species or to the shape of the tubers, similar to a pair of...

s (Listera ovata) and Orchis mascula and, locally, Wild Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus).

A wooden bridge was built close to Newbury Lock
Newbury Lock
Newbury Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Newbury, Berkshire, England.Newbury Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways. The lock has a rise/fall of 3 ft 6 in .It is a grade II...

 in 1726, replaced in stone between 1769 and 1772 by James Clarke, and now known as the Town Bridge or Water Bridge. As there is no tow path, a line to haul the barge had to be floated under the bridge and then re-attached to the horse where the tow path resumed.

Newbury to Reading

The River Kennet is navigable from Newbury
Newbury, Berkshire
Newbury is a civil parish and the principal town in the west of the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated on the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, and has a town centre containing many 17th century buildings. Newbury is best known for its racecourse and the adjoining former USAF...

 downstream to the confluence with the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

 at Kennet Mouth, in Reading
Reading, Berkshire
Reading is a large town and unitary authority area in England. It is located in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, and on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway, some west of London....

.

The stretch from Newbury to High Bridge
High Bridge, Reading
High Bridge is a bridge across the River Kennet in the town centre of Reading in the English county of Berkshire. It is the oldest surviving bridge that crosses the Kennet.- History :...

 in Reading is an improved river navigation known as the Kennet Navigation, opened in 1723. Throughout this navigation stretches of natural riverbed alternate with 11 miles (17.7 km) of artificial lock cuts and a series of locks that overcome a fall of 130 feet (39.6 m).

East of Newbury town centre the Kennet passes through the Thatcham Reed Beds
Thatcham Reed Beds
Thatcham Reed Beds is a 66.9 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Thatcham in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1974....

 a 169 acres (68.4 ha) Site of Special Scientific Interest
Site of Special Scientific Interest
A Site of Special Scientific Interest is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. SSSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in Great Britain are based upon...

, nationally important for its extensive reedbed, and species-rich alder
Alder
Alder is the common name of a genus of flowering plants belonging to the birch family . The genus comprises about 30 species of monoecious trees and shrubs, few reaching large size, distributed throughout the North Temperate Zone and in the Americas along the Andes southwards to...

 woodland and fen habitats. The latter supports Desmoulin's whorl snail
Desmoulin's whorl snail
Desmoulin's whorl snail, scientific name Vertigo moulinsiana, is a species of minute air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc or micromollusc in the family Vertiginidae, the vertigo snails....

 (Vertigo moulinsiana), which is of national and European importance. A large assemblage of breeding birds including nationally rare species such as Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler
Cetti's Warbler , Cettia cetti, is an Old World warbler which breeds in Europe, northwest Africa and east southern temperate Asia as far as Afghanistan and NW Pakistan. It is the only bush warbler to occur outside Asia...

 (Cettia cetti) make use of the reedbed, fen and open water habitats found at Thatcham Reed Beds. Thatcham's network of gravel pit
Gravel pit
Gravel pit is the term for an open cast working for extraction of gravel. Gravel pits often lie in river valleys where the water table is high, so they may fill naturally with water to form ponds or lakes. Old, abandoned gravel pits are normally used either as nature reserves, or as amenity areas...

s, reedbed, woodland, hedges and grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

 is rich in wildlife and has been made into The Nature Discovery Centre
The Nature Discovery Centre
The Nature Discovery Centre is a nature centre in the town of Thatcham in the county of Berkshire in England. It is situated at Thatcham Lake, a flooded gravel quarry near to the Thatcham Reed Beds....

 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Bird Notes and News was first published in April 1903.The title changed to 'Bird Notes' in 1947. In the 1950s, there were four copies per year . Each volume covered two years, spread over three calendar years...

.
Monkey Marsh Lock
Monkey Marsh Lock
Monkey Marsh Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Thatcham, Berkshire, England.Monkey Marsh Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 at Thatcham
Thatcham
Thatcham is a town in Berkshire, England 3 miles east of Newbury and 15 miles west of Reading. It covers about and has a population of 23,000 people . This number has grown rapidly over the last few decades from 5,000 in 1951 and 7,500 in 1961.It lies on the River Kennet, the Kennet and Avon...

 is one of only two remaining working examples of turf-sided locks on the canal today. It is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument
Scheduled Ancient Monument
In the United Kingdom, a scheduled monument is a 'nationally important' archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorized change. The various pieces of legislation used for legally protecting heritage assets from damage and destruction are grouped under the term...

 by English Heritage.

Below Colthrop Lock
Colthrop Lock
Colthrop Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Thatcham, Berkshire, England.Colthrop Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways...

 in Thatcham
Thatcham
Thatcham is a town in Berkshire, England 3 miles east of Newbury and 15 miles west of Reading. It covers about and has a population of 23,000 people . This number has grown rapidly over the last few decades from 5,000 in 1951 and 7,500 in 1961.It lies on the River Kennet, the Kennet and Avon...

 the river leaves behind the built-up area of Newbury and runs in generally rural surroundings. It passes through the Woolhampton Reed Bed
Woolhampton Reed Bed
Woolhampton Reed Bed is a 5.77 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Woolhampton in the English county of Berkshire. The site was officially notified in 1985....

, another SSSI which consists of dense reed bed
Reed bed
Reed beds are natural habitats found in floodplains, waterlogged depressions andestuaries. Reed beds are part of a succession from young reed colonising open water or wet ground through a gradation of increasingly dry ground...

 with smaller areas of tall fen
Fen
A fen is a type of wetland fed by mineral-rich surface water or groundwater. Fens are characterised by their water chemistry, which is neutral or alkaline, with relatively high dissolved mineral levels but few other plant nutrients...

 vegetation and carr woodland. It is notable for the diversity of insects it supports and its nesting passerine
Passerine
A passerine is a bird of the order Passeriformes, which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or, less accurately, as songbirds, the passerines form one of the most diverse terrestrial vertebrate orders: with over 5,000 identified species, it has roughly...

 bird populations, which include several uncommon species such as Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler
The Eurasian Reed Warbler, or just Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus scirpaceus, is an Old World warbler in the genus Acrocephalus. It breeds across Europe into temperate western Asia. It is migratory, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa....

 (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), a species that in Britain nests almost exclusively in this habitat.

Aldermaston Gravel Pits
Aldermaston Gravel Pits
Aldermaston Gravel Pits is a 23.41 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Aldermaston in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1955....

 consist of mature flooded gravel
Gravel
Gravel is composed of unconsolidated rock fragments that have a general particle size range and include size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. Gravel can be sub-categorized into granule and cobble...

 workings surrounded by dense fringing vegetation, trees and scrub, affording a variety of habitats for breeding birds and a refuge for wildfowl. The irregular shoreline with islands, promontories, sheltered eutrophic pools and narrow lagoons, provides undisturbed habitat for many water birds, including surface-feeding ducks such as Teal
Common Teal
The Eurasian Teal or Common Teal is a common and widespread duck which breeds in temperate Eurasia and migrates south in winter. The Eurasian Teal is often called simply the Teal due to being the only one of these small dabbling ducks in much of its range...

 (Anas crecca) and Shoveler
Shoveler
The shovelers, formerly known as shovellers, are four species of dabbling ducks with long, broad spatula-shaped beaks:* Red Shoveler, Anas platalea* Cape Shoveler, Anas smithii* Australasian Shoveler, Anas rhynchotis...

 (Anas clypeata). The surrounding marsh and scrub are important for numerous birds including nine breeding species of Warblers, Water Rail
Water Rail
The Water Rail is a bird of the rail family which breeds in well-vegetated wetlands across Europe, Asia and North Africa. Northern and eastern populations are migratory, but this species is a permanent resident in the warmer parts of its breeding range...

s (Rallus aquaticus), Kingfishers (Alcedoa atthis) and an important breeding colony of Nightingales
Nightingales
Nightingales is a British situation comedy set around the antics of three security guards working the night shift. It was produced by Alomo Productions for Channel 4 in 1990.-Outline:...

 (Luscinia megarhynchos). In 2002 English Nature
English Nature
English Nature was the United Kingdom government agency that promoted the conservation of wildlife, geology and wild places throughout England between 1990 and 2006...

 bought Aldermaston Gravel Pits from the mineral extraction company Grundon and it is managed as a nature reserve
Nature reserve
A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research...

 by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
The Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust is a wildlife trust covering the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire in England....

. The River Kennet
River Kennet
The Kennet is a river in the south of England, and a tributary of the River Thames. The lower reaches of the river are navigable to river craft and are known as the Kennet Navigation, which, together with the Avon Navigation, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames, links the cities of Bristol...

 itself, from near its sources west of Marlborough down to Woolhampton, has been designated as a SSSI primarily because it has an extensive range of rare plants and animals that are unique to chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 watercourses.
The village of Woolhampton
Woolhampton
Woolhampton is a village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. The village is situated on the London to Bath road between the towns of Reading and Newbury...

 and the canal settlement of Aldermaston Wharf
Aldermaston Wharf
Aldermaston Wharf is a small settlement situated north-northwest of Aldermaston in the West Berkshire district, part of the English county of Berkshire. The Kennet and Avon Canal and Great Western Railway pass through it and Aldermaston railway station and Aldermaston Lock are located here. The A4...

 are the only significant settlements until the river enters the built-up area of Reading at Sheffield Lock
Sheffield Lock
Sheffield Lock, at , is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, in the civil parish of Burghfield in the English county of Berkshire. It is also sometimes, incorrectly, known as Shenfield Lock....

 in Theale
Theale, Berkshire
Theale is a large village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. The village has many of the attributes of a small town, with a high street lined with shops, pubs and restaurants.- Location :...

. Even after this, the river is isolated from Reading's suburbs by a wide flood plain surrounding the river. In this stretch is Garston Lock
Garston Lock
Garston Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal. It is near the M4 motorway and near Reading, England.Garston Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury, and this stretch of the river is now administered by British Waterways and known as the...

, the other turf-sided lock on the navigation.

Shortly after passing Fobney Lock
Fobney Lock
Fobney Lock is a lock on the River Kennet in the Small Mead area of Reading in the English county of Berkshire.Fobney Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury, and this stretch of the river is now administered by British Waterways and known as...

 and the associated water treatment
Water treatment
Water treatment describes those processes used to make water more acceptable for a desired end-use. These can include use as drinking water, industrial processes, medical and many other uses. The goal of all water treatment process is to remove existing contaminants in the water, or reduce the...

 works, the Kennet flood plain narrows and the river enters a narrow steep-sided gap in the hills forming the southern flank of the Thames flood plain. At County Lock
County Lock
County Lock is a lock on the River Kennet in Reading town centre in the English county of Berkshire. It is now administered by British Waterways as part of the Kennet and Avon Canal...

 the river enters the centre of Reading, where it formerly flowed through the centre of a large brewery
Brewery
A brewery is a dedicated building for the making of beer, though beer can be made at home, and has been for much of beer's history. A company which makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company....

. This narrow and twisting stretch of the river became known as Brewery Gut. Because of poor visibility and the difficulty of boats passing in this stretch, traffic has long been controlled by a set of maritime traffic light
Traffic light
Traffic lights, which may also be known as stoplights, traffic lamps, traffic signals, signal lights, robots or semaphore, are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings and other locations to control competing flows of traffic...

s. Today the Brewery Gut is a major feature of Reading's The Oracle
The Oracle, Reading
The Oracle is a large indoor shopping and leisure mall, located on the banks of the River Kennet on the site of a 17th century workhouse of the same name in the town of Reading in the English county of Berkshire...

 shopping centre.
Immediately after The Oracle the river flows under the arched High Bridge, which forms a historical and administrative divide on the river. The last mile of the River Kennet in Reading below the bridge has been navigable since at least the 13th century. Because there is no wide floodplain, wharves could be built during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 that allowed Reading to establish itself as a river port. Originally this short stretch of river, which includes Blake's Lock
Blake's Lock
Blake's Lock is a lock situated on the River Kennet in Reading, Berkshire, England. It is on the short reach of the River Kennet which is administered as if it were part of the River Thames and is hence owned and managed by the Environment Agency....

, was under the control of Reading Abbey
Reading Abbey
Reading Abbey is a large, ruined abbey in the centre of the town of Reading, in the English county of Berkshire. It was founded by Henry I in 1121 "for the salvation of my soul, and the souls of King William, my father, and of King William, my brother, and Queen Maud, my wife, and all my ancestors...

, but today it is administered by the Environment Agency
Environment Agency
The Environment Agency is a British non-departmental public body of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and an Assembly Government Sponsored Body of the Welsh Assembly Government that serves England and Wales.-Purpose:...

 as if it were part of the River Thames. The Horseshoe Bridge at Kennet Mouth was built as a railway bridge in 1839, and the timber-clad iron-truss accommodation bridge was added in 1892.

Canal today

The canal today is a heritage tourism
Heritage tourism
Cultural heritage tourism is a branch of tourism oriented towards the cultural heritage of the location where tourism is occurring...

 destination. Boating, with narrowboats and cruisers
Cabin cruiser
A cabin cruiser is a type of power boat that provides accommodation for its crew and passengers inside the structure of the craft.A cabin cruiser usually ranges in size from in length, with larger pleasure craft usually considered yachts. Many cabin cruisers can be recovered and towed with a...

, is a popular tourist attraction particularly in the summer months. Privately owned craft and hire boats from the range of marina
Marina
A marina is a dock or basin with moorings and supplies for yachts and small boats.A marina differs from a port in that a marina does not handle large passenger ships or cargo from freighters....

s are much in evidence, and there are numerous canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 clubs along its length. The annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon
Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon
The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Marathon is a marathon canoe race in England. The race is held every Easter over a course of from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster in central London. It has been run since 1948. Starting at Devizes wharf, the route follows the Kennet and Avon...

 starts from Devizes Wharf, the site of the Kennet & Avon Canal Museum
Kennet & Avon Canal Museum
The Kennet & Avon Canal Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire, England and has a range of exhibits about the conception, design, usage and eventual commercial decline of the Kennet and Avon Canal, as well as its subsequent restoration....

, at first light on Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 each year and the competitors have to negotiate 75 locks in the 125 miles (201.2 km) route between Devizes and the finish at Westminster
Westminster
Westminster is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster, England. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames, southwest of the City of London and southwest of Charing Cross...

. The winning time is usually around 17½ hours.

Cycling is permitted along the canal towpath
Towpath
A towpath is a road or trail on the bank of a river, canal, or other inland waterway. The purpose of a towpath is to allow a land vehicle, beasts of burden, or a team of human pullers to tow a boat, often a barge...

 except for a 656 yards (600 m) section near Woolhampton
Woolhampton
Woolhampton is a village and civil parish in the English county of Berkshire. The village is situated on the London to Bath road between the towns of Reading and Newbury...

. Some sections of the canal towpath have been improved and widened to make them more suitable for cyclists and disabled users. Under a partnership arrangement involving British Waterways, Sustrans
Sustrans
Sustrans is a British charity to promote sustainable transport. The charity is currently working on a number of practical projects to encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport, to give people the choice of "travelling in ways that benefit their health and the environment"...

, and the riparian local authorities, two main sections of the canal have been improved, and, with a few short diversions, run from Reading to Marsh Benham
Marsh Benham
Marsh Benham is a village in civil parish of Speen in the English county of Berkshire. It is situated in the unitary authority of West Berkshire, just west of Newbury.-External links:...

 and from Devizes to Bath as part of the National Cycle Network
National Cycle Network
The National Cycle Network is a network of cycle routes in the United Kingdom.The National Cycle Network was created by the charity Sustrans , and aided by a £42.5 million National Lottery grant. In 2005 it was used for over 230 million trips.Many routes hope to minimise contact with motor...

 (NCN) Route 4. Fishing for bream, tench
Tench
The tench or doctor fish is a freshwater and brackish water fish of the cyprinid family found throughout Eurasia from Western Europe including the British Isles east into Asia as far as the Ob and Yenisei Rivers. It is also found in Lake Baikal...

, roach, rudd
Rudd
The common rudd Scardinius erythropthalmus is a bentho-pelagic freshwater fish, widely spread in Europe and middle Asia, around the basins of the North, Baltic, Black, Caspian and Aral seas.-Artificially introduced:...

, perch
Perch
Perch is a common name for fish of the genus Perca, freshwater gamefish belonging to the family Percidae. The perch, of which there are three species in different geographical areas, lend their name to a large order of vertebrates: the Perciformes, from the Greek perke meaning spotted, and the...

, gudgeon
Gudgeon
A gudgeon is a circular fitting, often made of metal, which is affixed to a surface. It allows for the pivoting of another fixture. It is generally used with a pintle, which is a pin which pivots in the hole in the gudgeon. As such, a gudgeon is a simple bearing.-Winged gudgeons:A winged gudgeon...

, pike
Esox
Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae — the esocids which were endemic to North America, Europe and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike...

 and carp
Carp
Carp are various species of oily freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. The cypriniformes are traditionally grouped with the Characiformes, Siluriformes and Gymnotiformes to create the superorder Ostariophysi, since these groups have certain...

 is permitted throughout the year from the towpath of the canal, but almost its whole length is leased to angling associations or fishing clubs. There are a variety of riverside public houses, shops and tea rooms. The Kennet and Avon Canal Trust operates shops and tearooms at Aldermaston Lock
Aldermaston Lock
Aldermaston Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Aldermaston Wharf in the English county of Berkshire. It stands at the junction of the civil parishes of Padworth, Beenham and Aldermaston....

, Newbury Wharf
Newbury Lock
Newbury Lock is a lock on the Kennet and Avon Canal, at Newbury, Berkshire, England.Newbury Lock was built between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. The canal is administered by British Waterways. The lock has a rise/fall of 3 ft 6 in .It is a grade II...

, Crofton Pumping Station
Crofton Pumping Station
Crofton Pumping Station is a pumping station near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire: it supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water....

, Devizes
Devizes
Devizes is a market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The town is about southeast of Chippenham and about east of Trowbridge.Devizes serves as a centre for banks, solicitors and shops, with a large open market place where a market is held once a week...

, and Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon
Bradford on Avon is a town in west Wiltshire, England with a population of about 9,326. The town's canal, historic buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants make it popular with tourists....

.

Ecology

The canal and its environs are important for wildlife conservation. There are several Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which exhibit great bio-diversity. Key sites that are home to several rare species include the Aldermaston Gravel Pits
Aldermaston Gravel Pits
Aldermaston Gravel Pits is a 23.41 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Aldermaston in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1955....

, Woolhampton
Woolhampton Reed Bed
Woolhampton Reed Bed is a 5.77 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Woolhampton in the English county of Berkshire. The site was officially notified in 1985....

, Thatcham Reed Beds
Thatcham Reed Beds
Thatcham Reed Beds is a 66.9 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Thatcham in the English county of Berkshire, notified in 1974....

, and Freeman's Marsh
Freeman's Marsh
Freeman's Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the civil parish of Hungerford in the English county of Berkshire.Located at , the site consists of unimproved meadows, marsh and reedbed. It is an important site for overwintering, migratory and breeding birds and supports many varieties...

, Hungerford
Hungerford
Hungerford is a market town and civil parish in Berkshire, England, 9 miles west of Newbury. It covers an area of and, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 5,559 .- Geography :...

. There are also many non-statutory nature reserves along the canal. More than 100 different species of bird have been recorded in surveys over the length of the canal, of which 38 could be classified as specialist waterway birds, including Grey Heron
Grey Heron
The Grey Heron , is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions...

 (Ardea cinerea), Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
The Reed Bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus, is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae....

 (Emberiza schoeniclus) and Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis). Fourteen species have been confirmed as breeding including Sand Martin
Sand Martin
The Sand Martin is a migratory passerine bird in the swallow family. It has a wide range in summer, embracing practically the whole of Europe and the Mediterranean countries, part of northern Asia and also North America. It winters in eastern and southern Africa, South America and South Asia...

s (Riparia riparia), which nest in drain-pipes in the brick walls of the canal in the centre of Reading. Wilton Water
Wilton Water
Wilton Water is a small reservoir, located near the village of Great Bedwyn in the English county of Wiltshire, which supplies the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal with water....

 by Crofton locks
Crofton Locks
Crofton Locks are a flight of locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal, near the village of Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, England.The nine locks achieve a total rise/fall of 61 ft 0 in and were built under the supervision of engineer John Rennie...

 and the Kennet Valley gravel pit
Gravel pit
Gravel pit is the term for an open cast working for extraction of gravel. Gravel pits often lie in river valleys where the water table is high, so they may fill naturally with water to form ponds or lakes. Old, abandoned gravel pits are normally used either as nature reserves, or as amenity areas...

s provide habitats for breeding and wintering waterfowl. Several species of Odonata
Odonata
Odonata is an order of insects, encompassing dragonflies and damselflies . The word dragonfly is also sometimes used to refer to all Odonata, but the back-formation odonate is a more correct English name for the group as a whole...

 (dragonflies and damselflies) and other invertebrates have also been recorded. Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is among the plant species growing along the edges of the canal. Measures to preserve and create water vole (Arvicola amphibius or A. terrestrisis) habitat have had considerable impact on the restoration of the canal, and new "vole-friendly" techniques of bank protection have been developed.

See also

  • Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal
    Locks on the Kennet and Avon Canal
    The Kennet and Avon Canal is a canal in southern England. The name may refer to either the route of the original Kennet and Avon Canal Company, which linked the River Kennet at Newbury to the River Avon at Bath, or to the entire navigation between the River Thames at Reading and the Floating...

  • Waterways in the United Kingdom
    Waterways in the United Kingdom
    Waterways in the United Kingdom is a link page for any waterway, river, canal, firth or estuary in the United Kingdom.-Related topics:*Waterway, water power, navigable, navigable aqueduct, navigable river, navigable waters, navigability, Waterway society, List of waterway societies in the United...



External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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