Sunday 3rd August 2014- Bradford-on-Avon to Bath Spa
Me, Paddy Garcia, Mama Me and Papa Me
A 10 mile walk between the railway stations at each end, via the canal; part of the parentals’ ongoing quest to walk the entire length of the Kennet & Avon Canal.
We set out from Bradford station mid-morning, chuckling as always at the marvellous ‘Thai Barn’ pun perpetrated by a local Asian restaurant. After a brief stop to admire the real tithe barn and browse some vintage stuffs, we headed out along the canal path* towards a lunch rendezvous. Busy day on the sunny towpath, with many bikes, walkers and canal residents out in force.
Met up with the lunch companions (familia NN) halfway to Avoncliffe and strolled along to admire the aqueduct before having an early (unless you are Papa Me, who likes to dine at eleven thirty) lunch at the Crossed Guns. Quite a bit of retro consumption (ham, egg and chips, scampi etc) before realisation that we’d only achieved c.15% of the walk sunk in and we bid farewell to the family and set off again.
Very pleasant and charming walk along the canal, past Freshford and through rolling green fields. Plenty of enormous cats, tiny dogs and interesting people and boats to catch the attention. Reached Dundas, where the (tiny?) Somerset Coal Canal joins the K&A, feeling pretty chipper. Great views from the aqueduct down over the River Avon and the railway line.
As we approached Claverton, the weather wasn’t looking so great, and by Bathampton it was raining quite hard (Me n PG= no waterproofs, have we learnt nothing?). Abortive attempt to shelter at The George, which sad to say is not a hostelry to revisit (really shouldn’t be that difficult to order a drink in a pub). But it had toilets on the plus side.
The final stretch into Bath ran through the splendid Sydney Gardens (quick diversion to look at the railway line and ponder the tribulations of electrification), and the interesting old wharves where the Somerset coal was unloaded. Great flight of steep locks descended to the final Deep Lock at Pulteney Road- very impressive. Then a final stretch of weaving past the Ebenezer Chapel and under the big railway and road bridges to reach the meeting point with the River Avon. Which after an afternoon of canal watching looked rather large and slightly alarming somehow. Then quick drink at Graze before heading back on the train.
Overall, a very pleasant, if tiring, walk. Flat, so it felt easy, but a long way in the end**! The first part was green and lovely, with nice wildlife (kingfisher, and family of near-fledged swans on the towpath as highlights). The last part I particularly enjoyed as an insight into not-so-often-seen industrial Georgian Bath.
*Note that M&P completed previous section as far as Bradford Wharf, but we joined by the barn, thus missing out a vital few hundred yards they may need to make a special trip to complete.
**Concerns that Me n PG wouldn’t make it unfounded but some leg-knack next day.