How to get there - From Junction 25 on the M 5 turn south-east on the A 358, then turn left towards Ruishton. Go through Ruishton to Creech St. Michael. On the near outskirts of Creech St. Michael follow the brown signs via Vicarage Lane and over the railway to the car park.
For those with SatNav a nearby postcode is TA3 5PP.
Get a map with driving directions to start (enter the postcode of your starting point at A)
Suggested Launch Site - The car park is free, but has no facilities. A path leads to the canal and you can seal launch down the bank or get in at the landing/fishing stage.
An alternative place for access is the bridge in Creech St. Michael, where there are steps down to the brick bank under the bridge.
Description - Initially head west along the canal ,under the first bridge and then the bridge in Creech St. Michael. The route is initially very rural. You pass the swing bridge at Foxhole and Bathpool with housing in places. Later there is light industry up to the end of the canal at Firepool Lock.
Firepool lock is a good turning place for those wanting a short trip (6 miles return) or not confident of exit/entry skills.
Firepool Lock is an obstacle. The exit/entry ledge under the bridge is very narrow. An alternative exit/entry point might be on the left, just short of the bridge, although likely to make your legs wet.
Past the lock is the River Tone, with a weir beside the lock. Exit/entry is difficult. There are steps by the water, but fairly high out of the water. An easier option is the narrow side of the sloping retaining wall of the lock. A more energetic option it to portage further to the first supermarket and enter the river there.
From Firepool keep right away from the weir and paddle through Taunton. There are several landing places. After Priory Bridge and the castle carry on to French Weir Park. There are toilets in the park and it would be nice to picnic there on a warm day by the weir.
Above the weir the canoeing is probably usually prohibited. The current is stronger and there are many tree obstructions.
From French Weir Park, on a February day, I returned to a floating pontoon by Lidl and landed there for a good value lunch at the Black Horse, to the left of the bridge.
Return is the reverse of coming, with Firepool Lock needing care.
Total distance for the full trip is about 7.5 miles return. Firepool lock is the only obstacle, but one to be cautious of.
Comments on this trip
Simon Millen 15 Mar 2010
Thanks for the review. I paddled this stretch today but only to Firepool Lock. This is my first canal kayak experience and really enjoyed it! The opening rural section was great, the industrial area following was not quite so peaceful and beautiful but still enjoyable. Nice relaxing paddling tho with no obstructions.