The Kennet and Avon Canal

The full canal walk and 20 day walks

By Steve Davison

Guidebook to walking along the Kennet & Avon Canal. The 94 mile route from Reading to Bristol is split into 7 stages of fairly easy walking and includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bath and Bristol's Floating Harbour. 20 circular walks are also included, ranging from 4¼ to 9 miles, taking in the best sections of the canal.



The canal and walks can be undertaken at any time: summers tend to be fairly dry and mild, spring and autumn offer some of the best walking conditions. In winter some paths can be quite muddy and some routes may be impassable if rivers become flooded - however, walking alongside the canal on a clear, frosty winter's day can be a magical experience.


Reading, Newbury, Hungerford, Great Bedwyn, Pewsey, Devizes, Bradford-on-Avon, Bath, Keynsham and Bristol


Fairly easy walking on mostly good paths and tracks through fairly low-level terrain (below 286m above sea level). The stages on the canal walk range in length from 15.5 to 29.7 km (9¾ to 18½ miles); however, these can be easily split into shorter stages if required. The circular walks range from 6.8 to 14.5 km (4¼ to 9 miles) and include several, sometimes steep, ascents and descents, however, they should be suitable for most walkers.
Must See

Must See

Numerous fascinating features along the canal, such as Crofton Pumping Station, the impressive Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes, aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas; picturesque towns and villages, with pubs, ancient churches; Georgian splendour at Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, vibrant Bristol and its Floating Harbour; the canal travels through an interesting, gentle landscape, ranging from the rolling chalk hills of the North Wessex Downs AONB in the east to the limestone country in the west, touching on the southern edge of the Cotswolds AONB.
9 Jun 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
  • Overview

    This guidebook to walking along the Kennet & Avon Canal covers the 94 mile (152km) route from Reading to Bristol. The canal walk is split into 7 stages of fairly easy, level walking, of between 9¾ and 18½ miles, with advice on splitting on shortening the stages if needed. The book also includes 20 easy circular walks, ranging from 4¼ to 9 miles, taking in the best sections of the canal and visiting sites nearby, making this two guidebooks in one.

    Alongside OS map extracts and detailed route descriptions, there are plenty of details on the history, heritage and wildlife encountered along the way. An itinerary planner is included for walkers who want to create longer or shorter stages, and there is useful practical information including details on accessing the walks by public transport and a list of accommodation available along the route. The result is a highly useful and fascinating companion to exploring the canal and its surroundings.

    In the early 1800s the Kennet and Avon Canal provided an important direct trade route between London and Bristol. Today the waterway weaves its way through the rolling chalk contours of the North Wessex Downs to the southern edge of the Cotswolds, passing vibrant towns and cities as well as picture-postcard villages with thatched cottages, ancient churches and cosy pubs. Fascinating features - such as Crofton Pumping Station and Beam Engines, the impressive Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes, the aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgian Bath and Bristol's vibrant Floating Harbour - are explored as the canal makes its journey across southern England.

  • Contents

    Brief history of the canal
    Plants and wildlife
    Where to stay
    Getting to and around the canal
    Food and drink
    Walking the canal
    Cycling the canal
    Waymarking, access and rights of way
    Protecting the countryside
    Using this guide
    Walking the canal from Reading to Bristol
    Stage 1 Reading to Woolhampton
    Stage 2 Woolhampton to Hungerford
    Stage 3 Hungerford to Pewsey Wharf
    Stage 4 Pewsey Wharf to Devizes
    Stage 5 Devizes to Bradford-on-Avon
    Stage 6 Bradford-on-Avon to Bath
    Stage 7 Bath to Bristol
    Between Reading and Hungerford
    Walk 1 Reading – canal and river
    Walk 2 Aldermaston – wharf and village
    Walk 3 Greenham Common
    Walk 4 Newbury and Donnington
    Walk 5 Kintbury and Hamstead Marshall
    Walk 6 Hungerford and Kintbury
    Walk 7 Hungerford, Freeman’s Marsh and Standen Manor
    Between Great Bedwyn and Devizes
    Walk 8 Great Bedwyn, Crofton and Wilton
    Walk 9 Wootton Rivers and Burbage
    Walk 10 Pewsey Wharf, Martinsell Hill and Oare Hill
    Walk 11 Wilcot and Woodborough
    Walk 12 Honeystreet and the Alton Barnes White Horse
    Walk 13 All Cannings, the Wansdyke and Bishops Cannings
    Walk 14 Devizes, Caen Hill and Rowde
    Between Seend and Bristol
    Walk 15 Seend and Seend Cleeve
    Walk 16 Bradford-on-Avon, Avoncliff and Lower Westwood
    Walk 17 Avoncliff, Freshford, Monkton Combe and Dundas
    Walk 18 Dundas Aqueduct, Monkton Farleigh and Bathford
    Walk 19 Bathampton, Sham Castle and Bath
    Walk 20 Saltford, Swineford, North Stoke and the Cotswold Way

    Appendix A Route summary tables
    Appendix B Itinerary planner
    Appendix C Accommodation near the route
    Appendix D Useful contacts
    Appendix E Further reading

  • Updates
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    Be notified by email when this book receives an update or correction

    October 2016

    The owner of this B&B has now retired and so accommodation is no longer available here;

    Bridge House, Canal Bridge, Semington, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

  • Reviews

    Steve Davison has become a well-known and popular author of guides for the specialist walking and exploration publisher, Cicerone. In his own latest exploration – Walking the Kennet and Avon Canal – he offers two ways of enjoying both the route of the canal and the places of interest within a short distance of its banks.

    The first section of the book covers the whole length, which he has divided into seven sections, starting from Reading, where the River Kennet joins the River Thames. In its second section the book has a series of 20 circular walks starting from points along the canal and taking in places of interest in the immediate surroundings. Each is in the region of six miles, and they take in stops such as to see the famous Crofton pumping station and beam engines near Great Bedwyn, and sights such as that of the chalk figure of a white horse on a hillside at Alton Barnes, the Caen Hill series of locks, and at Dundas the aqueduct and the junction with the restored remaining 500m of the Somerset Coal Canal.

    This is a book full of information, from the introduction that includes the geology of the surrounding area along the route, the ecology – plants and wildlife to look out for – then throughout its pages maps, travel information and restaurant and other facilities, including accommodation. There is also a third suggestion for making the most of the pleasures of following the canal, a cycling route, divided into three stages.

    Towpath Talk magazine

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Steve Davison

Steve Davison is a freelance writer and photographer who has written several walking guides. He has also written for a number of outdoor magazines and other publications, including local and national newspapers, specialising in hill walking and European travel, with interests in nature, geology and the countryside. A keen hill walker for many years and a Mountain Leader, Steve has also worked as a part-time outdoor education instructor. He is also a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.

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