Explore the Kennet & Avon Canal by canal boat
From our canal boat hire bases at Bath and Monkton Combe you can enjoy a canal boat holiday on the Kennet & Avon Canal
One of our best-loved canals, the 87-mile long Kennet & Avon Canal links the Bristol Avon with the Thames at Reading, passing through spectacular landscapes and the World Heritage City of Bath.
Soaring aqueducts, prehistoric landscapes and a World Heritage City
From the foothills of the Cotswolds to the North West Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Vale of Pewsey dotted with pre-historic features, this canal offers the chance to enjoy some of England’s most beautiful countryside.
Completed in 1810, the Kennet & Avon Canal is made up of two lengths of navigable rivers linked by a canal. From Bristol to Bath in the west the route follows the Bristol Avon, and at the eastern end, the River Kennet from Newbury to Reading.
The waterway has 105 locks along its length, including 29 at the dramatic Caen Hill locks in Devizes, as well two stunning Bath stone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas, designed by the pioneering canal engineer John Rennie.
Visit Bath or Bradford on Avon on a short break
From our base at Monkton Combe on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Somerset, Bath Top Lock is a lovely two-hour cruise away – the perfect short break for beginners.
Once moored at Bath Top Lock, you can walk into the centre of the City in just 15 minutes to enjoy all that the World Heritage Status City of Bath has to offer – the ancient Roman Baths, the sweeping line of 30 Grade I listed Georgian terrace houses that make up the Royal Crescent and medieval Bath Abbey with its fascinating ladders of angels climbing up the West front.
Or set off from our Bath base and head east to Bradford on Avon, skirting the southern foothills of the Cotswolds and passing through the picturesque Avon Valley.
The route goes past the historic Claverton Pumping Station with its 200-year water-driven pump lifting water 48ft from the River Avon to the canal above. And you’ll cross over the amazing Bath stone aqueducts at Dundas and Avoncliff. There’s a series of historic pubs and waterside eateries to enjoy along the way, including The George at Bathampton and The Cross Guns at Avoncliff.
At historic Bradford on Avon, sometimes described as a ‘mini Bath’, there’s a great choice of places to visit, including the Bradford on Avon Museum and the magnificent medieval Tithe Barn. There are lots of places to eat and drink, including the popular canalside Barge Inn and Timbrell’s Yard.
You can also cruise to Bristol and back on four night break from our Bath or Monkton Combe bases, but this is recommended for experienced boaters only.
Take a longer holiday and head to Devizes, the Vale of Pewsey, Hungerford and Newbury
On a week’s break from Bath or Monkton Combe, you can travel east to the pretty village of Great Bedwyn and back, passing through tranquil Wiltshire countryside past sleepy villages, and tackling the magnificent Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes along the way.
Once at Devizes, visitors to this historic market town can enjoy the Wadworth Brewery Visitor Centre with its famous shire horses making daily deliveries, and sample delicious food at some of the town’s independent shops and restaurants, including seasonal favourites at the AA 5* Peppermill Restaurant and the famous Devizes Cheesecake at the Dolcipani Bakery.
Then it’s on through the Vale of Pewsey, passing close to the Avebury Stone Circle, looking out for a Wiltshire White Horse on the hillside and stopping to see the striking painting on the ceiling of The Barge Inn at Honeystreet, with the subject matter reflecting the pub’s proximity to many crop-circles.
At the tiny hamlet of Wootton Rivers on the edge of the ancient Savernake Forest, boaters can stop for refreshment at the pretty thatched Royal Oak pub, soon after reaching the Kennet & Avon’s only tunnel – the 459-metre long Bruce Tunnel.
Then it’s down the Crofton flight and on to Crofton Pumping Station, home to two of the World’s oldest working steam beam engines, and neighbouring Wilton Water, created to supply the pumping station and feed the canal summit, now a haven for wildlife.
On reaching Great Bedwyn, boaters can turn and enjoy a visit to the village’s intriguing Stone Museum and the The Three Tuns pub.
On a two-week break, narrowboat holiday-makers can travel on to Reading, passing through Hungerford with antique shops dotted along its High Street, the village of Kintbury with its Dundas Arms gastro pub and the historic market town of Newbury, with a variety of arts venues including The Corn Exchange and Watermill Theatre, and nearby Highclere Castle, home of Downton Abbey.