Back in the 1850s, Bradford-on-Avon Wharf was the busiest along the Kennet & Avon, today this idyllic stretch of the canal has a more relaxed vibe about it, with many historical features to be found. The town itself is filled with architectural gems and independent shops, including the 14th century Tithe Barn and a 17th century coffee room, where waiters wear period uniform and best of all it’s only a short drive from Bath.
Down on the towpath a dedicated team of volunteers from the Canal & River Trust charity continually maintain the canal and its barges, alongside those caring members of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. They run a café down by the wharf, with an information centre, where you can pick up boat trips as well.
Follow the route from Bradford-on-Avon towards Bath and you’ll find an array of weirs every couple of miles, but otherwise the river remains relatively flat. The first is a vertical five foot drop by Avoncliffe, with an old mill wheel house to the right, pass the confluence with the River Frome and you’ll reach Limpley Stoke, before coming to pass a road bridge with four arches. Beyond this you’ll go on to find Warley Weir and Bathampton Weir, each a five foot high drop. Many that adorn these waterways recommend finishing up here, but you may wish to complete the route onto Poultney Weir in Bath, but erosion has made it a hazardous site in recent years so perhaps best to stay clear.
Whether you walk the path or take to the water by boat or canoe, you may want to keep your eyes peeled for the array of wildlife that call the canal their home, such as ducks and swans, ducks, as well as water voles and even bats during twilight hours. If you’re driving to the wharf, then you can park in the Canal & River Trust (Pay & Display) by Baileys Barn. Planning a visit? Download this free online map.