Towpath cafe walks: the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal – South West

Journey from Pluto to the Sun on this unique canal walk in Somerset

Canal & River Trust

On a map, the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal looks a bit like a child’s squiggle of the number ‘3’, which is apt as the towpath forms part of the National Cycle Route 3. Tucked away in the southwest of England, this waterway is separate from the rest of the network and, at just 14 miles long, it’s perfectly possible to walk the length of this perfect pocket-sized canal in a day. Most of the navigation is peacefully rural, skirting the Quantock Hills and linking two characterful historic market towns.

An unexpected perk of walking the canal’s entire length is that you can sharpen your astronomy knowledge as you go, thanks to the unique Somerset Space Walk that’s been installed along the towpath. The walk is a 530-million-to-one scale model of our solar system. The Sun is located midway along the towpath at Maunsel Lock, while the the planets are correctly place along the canal in both directions.

With Maunsel Lock being the midway point of the walk, you’d be pleased to know there’s a tea room to satisfy your grumbling belly. Sit in the sunny tea garden and enjoy their uniquely flavoured cakes: lemon and elderflower, ginger and treacle, and even salted caramel. There’s also a canal centre where you can arrange boat trips and find out about other walks and activities in the area. Bus service 21 runs between Taunton rail station and Bridgwater bus station, so you can easily get back to the start after you’ve had your fill.

Maunsel Lock Tea Shop, Bankland, North Newton, Bridgwater, Somerset;