Restoring the path for communities and wildlife
Before the introduction of motorised canal barges, the canal towpath was a vital part of the canal infrastructure. Its name came from the path that ran alongside the canal allowing a horse to tow the unpowered barges.
Today it is just as vital, because most canal users are not on boats. Walkers, cyclists, and fishermen use the towpath, and the towpath is crucial in providing green corridors linking isolated pieces of habitat, as well as connecting communities.
Our canals, and especially the towpaths, provide a great ‘outdoor gym’ with opportunities for walking, running, cycling and in some wider places, horse riding.
There is nothing better than watching the world go by a walking pace: and when our canal is fully open there will be 100k of accessible towpaths to explore, both out in the country and in the heart of our communities. So if you are wanting a walk to get away from the pressures of everyday life, or would like to try an alternative commuting route, our canals offers an ideal opportunity for gentle exercise often on a flat and accessible path. Those with wheelchairs, pushchairs and childrens’ bikes will often able to access the towpath whereas they would struggle with many footpaths.
Until full restoration has been completed, not the entire towpath is open to the public. Sections that are open will be clearly labelled.
Ahhh, summer… It’s a perfect time for cycling.
We all remember those long days with the breeze in our hair and the freedom to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Few things in life are better than a ride in the sunshine, a trip through the park or a pedal to the towpath. In fact, whether you’re still a regular cyclist or you haven’t been on a bike for years, summer is a great chance to get out and about on two wheels.
Canal towpaths are ideal for cycling as they are generally flat and wide enough to accommodate both cyclists and walkers and away from heavy traffic.
And some of our towpaths in future are planned to provide an alternative commuter route to work, linking up with other cycle ways in our urban communities. The Trust is working with Sustrans, a national charity who are also members of the Partnership, to develop the canal towpath as a cycleway, where possible.
The Partnership has laid down the challenge of restoring the Towpath along the entire route of the canal. The Trust has risen to the challenge.
In 2013 our second successful "Towpath Challenge" long distance walk took place.
In previous years we have been present at the Melksham Food & River Festival. Amid the current COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the Melksham Food and River Festival are continuing to plan on the basis that the Festival will go ahead. A final decision on the feasibility of holding the 2020 Festival will be made in July, following the latest Government update.
Our canals and towpaths are a great national asset. If we lose them however, we will lose them forever.