The historic Kennet and Avon Canal links London with the Bristol Channel, weaving through spectacular scenery on its way from Bath to Reading. You can follow the Kennet and Avon Cycle Route for around 83 miles, along tranquil canal towpaths and through gorgeous countryside.
The canal’s impressive architecture is in keeping with the peaceful surroundings. The countryside here provides a habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna. The route extends to Bristol along the 13-mile Bristol & Bath Path and is a part of the Severn & Thames Cycle Route between Gloucester and Reading.
The canal starts at Bath and, except for a few short sections near Reading, cycling is permitted alongside it (although the Network route does not follow the canal all the way). Long sections of the towpath, including the whole length from Bath to Devizes, around Newbury and between Thatcham and Reading, have been widened and the surfaces improved. Please be aware some sections of towpath have a rougher surface.
The section between Bath and Devizes is 22 miles (of which 21 are totally traffic-free). Between Bath and Bradford-on-Avon look out for the two impressive limestone aqueducts, Dundas and Avoncliff, both now fully restored to their former glory.
You should also keep an eye out for the Claverton Pumping Station, now restored to full working order by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. At Devizes you will find the dramatic Caen Hill Locks, a flight of 16 locks which may be the most impressive anywhere on the UK's waterways.
The route then continues towards Reading, passing through some of Wiltshire's quietest countryside. Between Devizes and Marsh Benham the cycle route leaves the towpath and follows quiet lanes through the Vale of Pewsey. Here you’ll be rewarded with fine views of the surrounding hills and the Pewsey White Horse. From Marsh Benham the route is again generally along the towpath all the way into Reading.
The Kennet and Avon Cycle Route is a dream for those looking for a peaceful route. It’s a delightful blend of gorgeous countryside and tranquil canals. This route will enchant those who are interested in the history of the UK’s canals and the fantastic engineering that went into building them.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.
To make sure everyone gets the most out of their time by the water, please ensure you follow the Towpath Code.