Saturday, 14 April 2012

The "Two Aqueducts" Walk through the Limpley Stoke Valley.

Walking beside the Kennet & Avon Canal at Limpley Stoke.
The group can be seen here walking on the towpath of the K&A canal through the beautiful Limpley Stoke Valley.  The sun shone and the sky was blue, and we had a wonderful day.  There were 15 of us in total, and we enjoyed lunch in the "Cross Guns" at Midford, where the service was very fast!  No sooner had we ordered, than lunch appeared on the table, to be washed down with a pint of strong ale. This section of the canal is beautiful, and a feat of late 18th century canal construction.  John Rennie, the engineer took the canal along the side of the valley, and in two places had to build magnificent Aqueducts, both in Bath stone and of similar design, to carry the canal over the River Avon.   These Grade 1 listed structures remain today as a monument to the skill and ingenuity of the engineers and navvies in the late 18th century.  A  full history of the canal can be read at:
On Dundas Aqueduct.
 The Dundas basin, where boats could unload their wares, can be seen in the background, with an old crane used to haul goods out of the horsedrawn barges.  The entrance to the Somerset Coal Canal is to the left, a narrow canal used to bring coal from the Radstock coalfields to Bath and Bristol in the west, and to towns towards Reading and London.
Dundas Aqueduct taking the K & A Canal over the River Avon.  Avoncliff Aqueduct is of similar design.

Avoncliff Aqueduct, with the canal taking a sharp left turn at the end. 
Both aqueducts fell into dereliction at the beginning of the 20th century, when it became cheaper and faster to carry goods on Isambard Kingdom Brunel's "Great Western Railway" that ran from London to Bristol.   Brunel followed the line of the canal when building his track, and used canal barges to carry the necessary steel and stone need to build the line.   On completion of the line, and almost overnight, the canal became semi redundant.  It continued to carry local goods and was eventually closed in 1955, only to be fully restored and reopened by the Queen in 1990.
Underneath Avoncliff Aqueduct checking  out the stonemason's marks.  The River Avon flows under the centre arch, left of picture.
A full history of this wide canal can be read on:

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