Guide to the Kennet & Avon Canal
One of the loveliest waterways in Britain, the Kennet & Avon meanders 86 miles between Bristol and Reading, passing through the historic city of Bath.
The route includes the fully restored Caen Hill flight of 29 locks at Devizes.
Distance, Time, and Locks
170 miles, about 120 hours cruising, 226 locks
The complete length of the canal and return takes 2-3 weeks.
Several parts of the canal form suitable out-and-back one or two week trips, notably in the Bristol/Bath area or the central section around Devizes. Short breaks are also available.
Cruising the Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal opened in 1810, and after restoration was re-opened by HM The Queen in 1990.
It passes beautiful, tranquil and unspoilt scenery with an abundance of plant and wild life, through bustling market towns, picturesque villages and past historic monuments.
Frequently there are inviting canal side pubs offering lunch or supper.
The waterway includes the Georgian splendour of the City of Bath and the pastoral pleasures of rolling Berkshire and Wiltshire, with unique architectural and engineering features of majestic aqueducts and bridges.
Starting at Brunel's historic Floating Harbour at Bristol, close to the city's theatres, shops and restaurants, the route first takes the tidal River Avon to Bath. This spectacular World Heritage City has Georgian architecture and Roman remains including the famous Baths, Abbey and many historic attractions.
Cruise through the dramatic valley of the River Avon over the Dundas Aqueduct and on to Bradford on Avon, a pretty small town with a fascinating history. Then on through rolling farmland to the famous flight of locks (29 locks in 2.25 miles) at Caen Hill.
These locks take a day to ascend or descend! Passage needs to be booked in advance, although water shortages are not now a problem.
Then pass through historic Devizes, home of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, with its canal shop, to Crofton, home of the famous working steam beam engine.
The handsome town of Hungerford, has centre of town moorings, convenient for browsing around the many antique shops.
The canal continues to Newbury, where you will find a touch of Venetian charm, and on to meet the River Thames just after Reading.
Possible Holidays on the Kennet and Avon Canal
Click on a boat base below for more information and possible routes from that base.