Photo: Gillie Rhodes
Aah Bath. Who doesn’t love Bath, with its fine Georgian buildings, Roman baths and elegant boutiques? But people often forget the city also provides access to a stunning stretch of canal, taking in leafy parks, handsome bridges and even more glorious architecture. And what’s more, the canal is just a stone’s throw away from the train station.
To follow this 10-mile walk from Bath to Bradford-upon-Avon, exit the station on the south side (the side facing away from the shops and city centre), cross Halfpenny Bridge and turn left to reach Bath Locks. Look out for Bath Deep Lock, the second deepest lock in the country. The huge chamber is 19ft 5ins (5.92m) deep, it’s an awesome sight, but be very careful near the edge!
From here, follow the canal north as it passes through to the outskirts of the city. Look out for Cleveland House, which was leased to the Kennet & Avon Canal Company as their headquarters. Then you’ll pass the quirky Pumphouse Chimney, which was elaborately decorated to appease the wealthy local residents who didn’t want an ugly industrial looking chimney in their eye line.
After walking though Sydney Gardens – home to the Holborne Museum of Art – you emerge from the city and soon you’ll reach the outskirts of Bathampton, another bastion of beautiful architecture, where there’s a wealth of refreshment options including the George Inn, Bathampton Mill and Cafe on the Barge.
After Bathampton and Claverton, you’ll come to the Dundas Aqueduct, which was completed in 1810 by John Rennie to carry the canal over the River Avon. This spectacular landmark is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Continue along the towpath through the rolling Somerset countryside and you’ll soon reach the 19th-century Avoncliff Aqueduct, where you can stop to enjoy well-earned tea and cake at No.10 Tea Gardens or head to the adjacent Cross Guns pub.
Afterwards, you can either catch the train back from Avoncliff – a request stop on the Bath line – or continue for another 1.5 miles to beautiful Bradford-upon-Avon. Its wharf was the busiest on the canal during the 1850s. These days it’s still bustling, but with walkers and boaters. The train station is half a mile’s walk from the wharf, and from there you can catch a train back to Bath.