Oxford to Bath via Wilts & Berks Canal

Canals, with their towpaths, are a special feature of this long distance walk. Although man-made and built for early transport needs, the canal and its banks are becoming linear nature reserves of increasing importance. In places, the towpath already provides an excellent public amenity and enormous potential for so much more to benefit both the community and the environment.

Linking the historic cities of Bath and Oxford, the route passes through beautiful countryside, following where possible, the towpath of the Wilts & Berks Canal. Starting at Semington bridge on the Kennet & Avon canal, the route follows the upper River Avon valley from Melksham via Lacock towards Swindon and then runs through the Vale of the White Horse, finishing just south of Abingdon where it joins the Thames Path National Trail. Passing close to prehistoric monuments, historic towns and picturesque villages, this gentle journey uses a mix of public and permissive rights of way plus reinstated towpath and offers plenty of interest for canal, history and wildlife lovers alike. Waymarked in places, the route is never more than 1km from the line of the historic canal.

Towpath Challenge Easter 2013

The Trust and its volunteers organised a long distance walk in 2013 to allow members and the public a chance to walk once again the length of our wonderful canal, to appreciate its beauty and tranquillity, to absorb its historical importance and to understand the amount and type of restoration that had already been completed. As far as possible, the walk route followed the towpath but where necessary diversions using mainly Public Rights of Way (PRoWs) were followed.

From organiser and leader, Tim Pyatt in 2013:

“Well the walk is over for this year… I'd just like to say how appreciative we all were of your support: with transporting the weary walkers back to the start, the back up and the photography, to the fantastic efforts by the work parties in clearing over 4km of new towpath for this year’s walk and the special permissions for another 10km+. Absolutely brilliant.
Hopefully we've raised about £3,000, and it would definitely not have been possible without your support and hard work.
Many, many thanks Tim Pyatt”

Heathcoat 200 Walk, July 2016

Over a long weekend at the beginning of July, long distance walkers used canal towpaths and rights of way to retrace the journey of 500 men, women and children who walked from Loughborough to Tiverton in 1816, to save their jobs.

Lacemakers in Leicestershire were caught up in industrial unrest when Luddites burnt down John Heathcoat’s factory in Loughborough. Heathcoat set up a new factory in Devon, and the lacemakers and their families made the long trek to the West Country using the canal towpaths.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust were pleased to welcome the long distance walkers to our patch over the weekend of July 2nd to 4th.

Tim Pyatt who is organising our own Towpath Challenge 2017, joined them and guided them through our area.

Towpath Challenge September 2017

Yes its back, and this time better than ever.

A long distance walk for the intrepid; and a series of shorter walks, runs, canoeing and boating activities, art and music events… a festival of canal related events all to be held over a weekend in September 2017.

A fantastic celebration of our canal, our towpath, our volunteers … and our place in our communities!

Keep an eye on the web site, facebook and twitter for more details as announcements are made later in the year. And don’t forget to book the dates: 2nd and 3rd September 2017.

Long Distance Walkers Association - Wilts & Berks Canal Towpath