How to get there -
Wootton Rivers is 5 miles south of Marlborogh. Take the A346 south east from Marlborough for about three miles (passing through Cadley). Turn right where signposted to Wootton Rivers and pass through the village, parking on the right as you approach the canal bridge. For those with SatNav a nearby postcode is SN8 4NQ.
As this is a one way trip you will need to park a car at the end. For the two day version that will be in Hungerford. I suggest Canal Walk (postcode RG17 0EQ - see end map) or the rough car park at Dunmill Lock, one mile east of Hungerford. For the one day version it will be at the car park
at Mill Bridge, south of Great Bedwyn. (The postcode for Great Bedwyn is SN8 3NU.)
Get a map with driving directions to start
(enter the postcode of your starting point at A)
Suggested Launch Site -
Launch over the bank to the east of Wootton Rivers Bottom Lock.
This is a short trip in distance but it crosses the summit level of the canal and as a result includes 10 locks and the 502 yard long Bruce Tunnel. As there were 7 canoes, fully laden, we went throgh the locks rather than portage them. We had a lock windlass with us but were lucky enough to meet up with a co-operative narrowboater who was happy to operate the paddles in return for some help with opening and closing gates.
When rising through locks care needs to be taken to lift the paddles progressively and slowly to avoid creating too much turbulence in the lock.. The greatest turbulence is also usually at the front half of the lock so its best for canoes to stay well back from the top gates.
Our trip took us to Crofton Pumping Station which houses two of the worlds oldest working steam engines still doing the job they were created for. The engines are only in steam on Bank Holidays and selected weekends.
We then portaged into Wilton Water, the reservoir that supplies Crofton Pumping Station and camped on its eastern bank. A footpath runs by and you can follow this south (turn left at the road) for half a mile into the village of Wilton to find the Swan Inn and an excellent selection of beer straight from the barrel.
If you need to make this a one day trip simply continue down the canal via 3 more locks to Mill bridge where there is a small car park
on the towpath side.
The trip is part of a two day trip with ending in Hungerford. For the next part click here