Canoe Days Out

Somerset - Kennet & Avon Canal - Bathampton to Avoncliff Aqueduct (& return)

This page was submitted by Keith Day (E-mail this submitter)
How to get there - Bathampton is 1 mile east of Bath. From the A36 fork left onto a minor road (Bathampton Lane which leads into High Street). This road will decend steadily to a bridge over the Kennet & Avon Canal, immediately after which it turns sharp left to the George Inn.

For those with SatNav the postcode is BA2 6TR.

Get a map with driving directions to start (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)

Suggested Launch Site - We parked in the Road opposite the bridge (Church Close). You can launch your canoe from the towpath either side of the bridge.

General Description - This is a very pleasant stretch of canal with the waterway half way down the valley side, the River Avon below and the wooded hills above. The entire trip is about 11 miles with no locks. There are two swing bridges but these are sufficiently high for canoeists to pass unhindered.

In addition to the expected pleasures of a rural canal there are a number of special features worth looking out for. The Claverton Pump is a water mill diven pumping engine raising water from the River Avon to the canal. There are two very distinctive stone built aqueducts (Dundas and Avoncliff) which carry the canal backward and forward accross the river. The Dundas Aqueduct marks the junction with the Somerset Coal Canal the first few hundred yards of which have been restored to act as moorings. There is a Visitor Centre, tea shop and boat hire (including canoes) at the end of the short stretch of restored Somerset Coal Canal.

The lenth of canal between the two aqueducts was very prone to leakage and the restoration was achieved through the construction of a completely concrete lined section of canal. Nature has now reasserted herself and this merges seemlessly into it's surroundings.

At the Avoncliffe Aqueduct (the suggested turnround point) is the Cross Guns Inn, convenient for mid day refreshments. For those with sufficient time and stamina the 14th century Tithe Barn at Bradford on Avon is a mile further allong the canal.

Some of the photos have been supplied courtesy of Martin Norgate. You can see more of his pictures at

Comments on this trip

Bern Langton
27 Sep 2020
A 20ish mile round trip. We loaded up the canoe and used the wild camp site at Longscroft Manor in Bradford on Avon. You can get out at the marina and its half mile up the road. It has fire pits And water but no toilets.The paddle out takes you over the Dundas and Avoncliffe aqueducts, there is an easy portage around the lock at Bradford on Avon after the medieval tithe barn. We then snuck out at the marina and portaged the canoe on wheels half a mile up the hill to the campsite, though there were plenty of places to stash it if you dont fancy the portage. We are on the boathouse pub on the marina and spent a lovely evening round the fire before retiring to our ultra light tents. The canal was busy but cheerful and everyone was enjoying the water.The next day we launched into the marina again but left the canal at Avoncliffe and portaged through the beer garden of the cross guns pub to launch into the river. This is a spectacular piece of river! We saw loads of kingfishers, herons, cormorants and ducks. Paddle with the current under the avoncliff aqueduct then after a few miles portage the weir. Pull up on the right and you can slide the canoe over the brick steps without getting wet. You will then paddle under the Dundas aqueduct and eventually reach the much bigger weir at Warleigh. We paddles across to the far side pulled the canoe out and dropped it immediately down the bank to the beach below the weir. After getting our feel wet on the shallows we were floating again and followed the river all the way back to the toll bridge and weir at Bathampton. We pulled out on the right immediately after the bridge (before the weir) and one of stayed with the canoe whilst the other popped up the road to Bathampton and drove the car back to the Bathampton Mill pub car park a few metres portage away.Had a lovely Sunday lunch at the George Inn in Bathampton to round off the adventure.

Alison Payne
18 May 2019
We loved this trip. The portages on the return via the river Avon were not too hard (I was new to navigating round weirs and had been nervous). It was a beautiful trip, the river is abundant in wildlife and has an amazing character.

George East
05 May 2014
This is a great trip, but even better if you return downstream by river.You can portage through the Cross Guns at Avoncliffe, it's always best to ask and buy a drink. The river is very quiet and it is rare to see anyone else on it or walking the banks. We soetimes divert up the River Frome to visit the Freshford Inn.You can portage Limply Stoke wier if the water is not too high, (or above it back to the canal), go under Dundas Aquaduct then portage Claverton wier on the right before the wier. Again, you have to be careful about water levels.At Bathampton we usually get out before the wier, drag the canoe to a farm gate and walk a short distance to get the car. We have portaged the wier once when the flow was low.There are quite a few loops you can do between Bath and Outmarsh, on the Semington Brook.Portage above Avoncliffe wier to the canal is Why don't you overtake the narrow boats I have found them sympathetic to canoeists.pps I am happy to give more detailed information.

Julie Oates
06 Jun 2011
We did this trip in June 2011, and it worked really well. We are fairly new to paddling. We parked in the pub car park at Bathampton, leaving the car overnight with the pub's permission, and stayed the night in BradfordonAvon, and paddled back the next day. We did each journey in 3 hours (probably pretty slow!), but it was great! Not too many smelly barges! Thanks for introducing us to it as an idea.

Nigel Terry
09 Aug 2010
Decided to give this trip a go as we were delivering our daughter to Bristol airport on Sunday.Parking was a bit of an issue as very busy had to unload canoe and park up the street by the shops only a 5 minute walk. Had a nice lunch in the converted narrow boat cafe. Set off and enjoyed the trip but spent most of the outward trip stuck behind narrow boats with the smell of fumes. Visited the somerset coal canal and had a nice cup of tea. We went over the viaduct and the scenery looked beautiful but as we encountered another queue of boats decided to turn round and returned to Bathampton. A trip for out of season.

Paul Walters
21 Apr 2009
I was involved in the restoration works on this section of the canal in about 2000/2001. It is great to hear that the banks have returned to their natural state..... unless you looked very hard, you'd never know there were thousands of cubic metres of concrete and butyl liner beneath the water !


The George Inn, Bathampton
Claverton Pump
Somerset Coal Canal

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The last trip loaded was Great Haywood to Great Haywood (Circular Route) on the River Trent / Trent & Mersey Canal by Peter Robinson