This Walk of the Week has been sent in by Tim at Car Free Walks, you can also download it for free from their website.
Start: Bradford on Avon Station
Finish: Avoncliff Station
Distance: About 8 miles – allow 3-4 hours (a shorter option finishes at Freshford Station)
Maps: OS Explorer 142 – Shepton Mallet & Mendip Hills East; OS Explorer 155 – Bristol & Bath; OS Explorer 156 – Chippenham & Bradford-on-Avon
With the British Summer proving typically unreliable, it’s best to choose a route that doesn’t depend on sunshine. The Kennet & Avon canal provides a colourful walk in any weather – and there are plenty of refreshment stops along the way.
Take the train or bus to Bradford-on-Avon and from the station, follow the signposts to the canal. Just before you reach it, have a peek at the impressive 14th century tithe barn.
Walk up the steps to the towpath and from here the navigation is easy – just follow the canal. All along are beautifully painted houseboats, and in summer several birds can be spotted in the water – look out for the graceful grey herons.
Time your walk to be in Freshford at lunchtime, and head for Galleries, a community café and shop run by people from the village – the quiches and salads are highly recommended. From Freshford, walk through Limpley Woods and into Monkton Coombe, a village full of houses built using the golden Bathstone that typify the Wiltshire-Somerset border region.
Cross over the Dundas Aqueduct and follow the canal back on the opposite side, past Conkwell Woods and into Avoncliff. Avoncliff station is on this side of the canal, but cross over the bridge for a local cider at The Cross Guns, a great riverside pub (the River Avon runs parallel to the canal for much of its course). And if you see your train whizz by, just order another pint and wait for the next one.