Things to do in The Kennet and Avon Canal

County Lock, Reading

Just 10 minutes’ walk from Reading station, the Kennet & Avon Canal runs through the heart of Reading. Shop till you drop then relax by the water’s edge!

Four things to do at County Lock, Reading: 

Go shopping in the Oracle Shopping Centre and keep an eye open for boats passing through!

Huntley & Palmer used the canal to transport biscuits from its factory here.

Visit Reading Museum and see a stunning collection of old biscuit tins.

Check out the amazing weir at County Lock.

Walk along the towpath to the point where the canal joins the River Thames and continues its journey to London (25 mins, 1.2 miles).
Make sure to visit local pubs including The Hook & Tackle; BrewDog Reading, The Sun Inn and the Castle Tap.
A
llow 3-4 hours for this visit. 
For a longer walk from this point you can follow the River Kennet south through Reading, stopping off at County Lock on the path towards Fobney Lock. This walk will take 1h23 mins, 4.2 miles.

Catch the train from Reading to Newbury from just 15 minutes.

Newbury Wharf

Five things to do at Newbury Wharf: 

Watch the boats work the locks in the centre of this bustling market town.

Visit the Kennet & Avon Information Centre on the Wharf to find out more about the canal.

Walk along to Town Bridge. The towpath is not continuous under the bridge. Horses, which towed boats in the early days of canals, went up the alley and across the street. Spot where the towropes wore away the bricks on corner of the passageway.

Take a boat trip and explore more of the canal.

Have a picnic in Victoria Park and feed the ducks.

Newbury Wharf is home to delicious cafés, great local pubs including Lock Stock & Barrel; Canal Bar and Old Waggon & Horses and the Slug & Lettuce. It's the perfect place to set up a picnic, find the nearest play area or take a boat trip. Allow 2-3 hours for this visit. 

Catch the train from Newbury to Kintbury. It takes just 5 minutes on the train and costs just £4.30.

Kintbury Wharf

Once a busy industrial canal wharf, Kintbury is now a picture of tranquillity. It’s just the place to start exploring the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal.

Take a horse-drawn boat trip and learn more about the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Go for a bike ride along the towpath, past the water meadows where watercress once thrived in the clear chalk streams.

The Kennet & Avon is important for wildlife conservation. Look out for kingfishers, mute swans, coots, moorhens and herons.

Walk along the towpath and watch boats passing through the lock and making their way sleepily along the canal.

Visit Kintbury Parish Church close to the canal. It has a memorial tablet to Charles Dundas, first chair of the Kennet & Avon Canal Company.

Take a break from exploring Kintbury and settle in at a café or The Dundas Arms, one of the local pubs. If you're in the mood for an adventure try cycling or heading out on a boat trip. A
llow 1-2 hours for this visit.

Walk from Kintbury Lock to Hungerford Town bridge for an hour’s walk.

Hungerford

Five things to do at Hungerford Wharf: 

The Kennet & Avon Canal transported Bath stone. Check out St Lawrence’s Church, it was built of Bath stone.

Take a boat trip aboard the Rose of Hungerford and learn more about the canal.

The Kennet & Avon Canal is an important area for wildlife conservation. Look out for water voles and water birds.

Walk along the towpath and look for quirky canal bridges such as the swing bridge at Hungerford Marsh Lock.

Feed the ducks and watch boats passing through the locks.

During your visiting why not take a break and enjoy a local café or pub like The Plume or John O’Gaunt Inn? Make sure to take in one of the boat trips. Allow 3-4 hours for this visit. 

Pewsey Wharf

Five things to do at Pewsey Wharf: 

The Kennet & Avon Canal formed a line of defence against invasion during the Second World War. Did you know it was called the GHQ Stop Line Blue and was fortified with anti-tank obstacles. Look out for pillboxes along the waterway.

Keep an eye open for kingfishers!

Go along the towpath and look out for the winding hole, one of the few places where boats can turn round.

Relax with a picnic and watch boats making their way sleepily along the canal.

Walk to Ladies Bridge and the Wide Water, near Wilcot. It’s said that Mrs Wroughton and her two daughters, who owned the land, would only sell part of it to the canal company on condition this bridge was built and the canal made to look like an ornamental lake.

Explore Caen Hill Locks:

The Kennet & Avon Canal has awesome examples of canal engineering. At Caen Hill, you can see the longest continuous flight of locks in the country. Look up from the bottom at the 16 locks that form the main ‘staircase’. The locks and side reservoir pounds (ponds) of Caen Hill were the last stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal to be built in 1810. John Rennie, developed the flight in response to the challenge of taking the waterway over a steep 1 in 44 gradient (rising 237 feet).

Because of the steepness of the terrain, the pounds between the middle 16 locks are very short and have been turned sideways. As a result, 15 locks have unusually large side pounds, to store the water needed to operate them. They are teaming with fish and birds (such as kingfisher, swans and heron) as well as a range of dragonflies. They are often visited by otters.

Bath Locks

Five things to do at Bath Locks:

Take a boat trip. It’s a great way to explore this beautiful canal and admire the fabulous views of the city.

Look out for Cleveland House, once the headquarters of the Kennet & Avon Canal Company, and the square hole in the roof of the tunnel. Nobody knows what it was used for.

Have a picnic in Sydney Gardens. There’s a great museum and good play area there too.

Discover the crossover bridge. It was built so that when the towpath changed sides, the horses towing boats didn’t have to be unhitched.

Download audio trails which explore the canal between Halfpenny Bridge and Darlington Wharf.

Allow 3-4 hours for this visit. 

The Kennet & Avon canal (K&A) was built to link the two important ports of London and Bristol and opened fully in 1810. The 87 miles of its length acted like a motorway of its day, crowded with cargo-carrying barges.

Plotting a canal route that took it over hills created a big headache for its engineers and resulted in some spectacular solutions. Caen Hill in Devizes is the second longest flight of locks in the country and an absolute must to visit. It was engineer John Rennie’s successful attempt to carry the water, and with it the boats, up and down the gradients.

The K&A is a splendid walk into the past and with GWR’s train stations conveniently located on the canal, you can easily hop on and off the train. Check out the Great West Way Discoverer pass, there are three routes available, giving you the opportunity to explore the area in one-day instalments or over the duration of a week.

There’s also the Kennet Day Ranger ticket, which offers unlimited travel in the area and is priced at only £13.90 for an adult and £6.95 for a child. And you can save a further 1/3 with a Railcard, making it perfect for a day out. Check out the Great West Way map for all the info you need.

Research by the Canal & River Trust, the charity that looks after the K&A, suggests spending time next to water is good for your wellbeing. Travelling along the Kennet & Avon Canal offers you an abundance of natural beauty, outstanding canal structures, fabulous vistas and heritage galore.

Where do GWR trains call at along at The Kennet and Avon Canal?


GWR trains arrive and depart along the Reading – Bristol line. Calling at stations: Theale, Aldermaston, Midgham, Thatcham, Newbury, Kintbury, Hungerford, Bedwyn, Pewsey and then onto Bath and Bristol.

It is easy to hop on and off the train at any of these station to enjoy the Kennet and Avon canal.

How long is the journey from Reading to Bristol?


The journey from Reading to Bristol Temple Meads is only 50 minutes and then take one of our local trains to start exploring.

When is the best time to travel to The Kennet and Avon Canal?


Travel off-peak to enjoy a smoother journey on our less crowded train services.

By travelling outside of busy weekday commuter times, you can also take advantage of cheaper ticket prices too.

Cheaper train tickets to The Kennet and Avon Canal

Looking to find the best deal on your Kennet and Avon Canal train tickets? Take a look at our money saving ticket options before you buy – you might miss a bargain!