Posted by: travelrat | September 11, 2013

Kennet & Avon Canal

Kenavon Venture

The other day presented me with a rare opportunity. The girls had gone to Brighton for the day, but they’d left me the car! So, where was there to go? First, to the Wansdyke.

I’ve had the story I posted last week on file for a while, but didn’t have any digital pictures to illustrate it. So, that was the first job.

On the way, I passed over the Kennet & Avon Canal, and I remembered that, although I’d seen, and photographed it often, I’d never actually sailed on it. That could easily be remedied; when I’d finished my work on the Wansdyke, I headed for Devizes, from where the Kenavon Venture sails daily in summer.

At the time of my visit, there was only one way the boat could go, for the Caen Flight was closed for repair, after someone had hit a lock gate a few days previously. As it had been before 1990, when it was first re-opened along its full length, Devizes was the end of the road.

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The Kennet & Avon was one of the last canals to be built, and, although it was a quick and efficient way to transport goods between London and Bristol, it was quickly superseded by the railway, which opened only a few years after the canal.

In WWII, the canal was regarded as an important second line of defence in the event of an invasion, and military pill-boxes, some of which are now Listed Buildings, still line the route.

On the canal bank, you may think that there’s not much to see, for most of the way, thick blackberry bushes decorate the canal bank. But, there’s other traffic on the canal, and birds and other wildlife can be frequently seen, and often, the bushes part to allow someone’s garden to run down to the canal. And, just before the boat turns round to return, the landscape opens out, and there’s a glimpse of the Devizes White Horse … forgotten and overgrown for years, until it was re-cut to commemorate the Millennium.

I saw just a short section of the canal on this occasion … but still a colourful and interesting section. Before the full length of the canal was re-opened by the Queen in 1990, it was known as ‘The Sleeping Beauty’. It’s easy to see why.

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