We absolutely love canals, or perhaps the honest truth is that Jo likes canals and I love them. Not sure what the real attraction is, perhaps it’s the mix of quiet countryside with a bit of history and a lovely place to walk. Whatever the reason, we’re both suckers for a canal and a canal walk.
Taking Willie Nelsons advice (as always) we were On the Road Again and spending a few nights in Newbury, Berkshire. It was the Premier Inn again, and we were just planning on a few days checking out the area and exploring.
The Day of Four Counties
So a fabulous road trip from Newbury took us north past Oxford to the beautiful little town of Bicester, in Oxfordshire. Bit of a wander around there before heading east to Buckingham (in Buckinghamshire) before looping round west to Brackley in Northamptonshire and across to Banbury back in Oxfordshire. Spot of lunch there before going off south west to Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds before drifting south to Oxford again and back to Newbury. Phew!
A massive day out and a few miles on the clock but we saw so many places that we’d not experienced before. What a fabulous part of the world. Definitely be back to see more.
The Kennet and Avon Canal
Next day was our canal walk and we began in Kintbury for an 8 mile round trip walk into Hungerford and back. Slightly cloudy but perfect for walking. The canal officially runs for around 87 miles between Bristol and Reading but it’s really split into three sections.
The River Avon runs from Bristol to Bath, with the River Kennet going from Newbury to Reading. The actual man-made canal joins the two rivers up. Completed in 1810 it is actually 57 miles long and was only recently restored in 1990 after years and years of neglect. They’ve done a brilliant job though as it’s now a beautiful wildlife conservation area and a lovely walk.
It’s all about the locks as you walk these canals and some of the names are absolutely fabulous. We passed by Kintbury Lock, Brunsden Lock, Berks and Hants Lock, Wire Lock, Dun Mill Lock, and finally Hungerford Town Bridge. Every one has it’s own story and is riddled with history.
Sitting overlooking the river eating our lunch we watched a group of people taking their first paddle boarding lesson and enjoyed seeing them get their confidence and get to grips on the water. Felt like we were doing it with them. We could do that.
Another aspect of canal walking that we really love is seeing all the amazing boats moored up along the waters edge and chatting and saying hello to so many different canal-types. It seems to be such a friendly world where everyone appears to be enjoying the experience together. Often wonder if we could live on a canal boat but the cold and wet winter weather soon dispels such thoughts.
Such a great day out, we need to start researching more canal walks! And try and return to do more of the lovely Kennet and Avon. Sounds like a plan.