The Kennet & Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal, with an overall length of 87 miles runs from Bristol to the Thames in Reading. From Bristol to Bath on to Bradford on Avon the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon before the canal links it to the River Kennet at Newbury, and from there to Reading on the River Thames. In all, the waterway incorporates 105 locks.
The two river stretches were made navigable in the early 18th century, and the 57-mile (92 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. 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, fishing, walking and cycling, and is also important for wildlife conservation.
The Kennet & Avon Canal was 200 years old in 2010 and the anniversary was celebrated with an exciting programme of repair and conservation of the canal’s important features.