Take this short canalside walk in Devizes or cycle along the towpath to marvel at one of the engineering triumphs of the Industrial Revolution.
Starting from the Devizes Wharf go up to the road and cross the bridge to join the towpath at the other side of the canal.
Then walk or cycle west for a few minutes past the first lock of the flight and cross the next bridge by walking up on to the bridge to rejoin the towpath on the opposite side down a flight of steps.
Continue along the towpath for just under a mile with the canal on your right for about 15 minutes. Through a tunnel under a road bridge. This tunnel was originally used to provide passage for the horses towing the barges and also accommodated the ‘temporary tramway’ connecting the bottom to the top at Devizes before completion of the Caen Hill Locks
At the top of the famous steepest flight of 16 locks
of the Devizes flight of 29 locks you have spectacular views across the Wiltshire countryside. Known by the boatmen as ‘The Steps’ this final link in the Kennet & Avon Canal was completed on 28 December 1819 to connect two of the greatest seaports of the day, London on the Thames in the east and Bristol on the Avon in the west. A further 35 minutes walk will take you to the bottom of the steepest of the Devizes Caen Hill Locks
where you can look back and marvel at this massive engineering achievement of the day.
By constructing huge side pounds on the north side of each lock to store the vast amounts of water required to increase the fall overcame the incline of 1:44 from the top of the Devizes flight as well as allowing continuous operation. The locks are wide enough to take two canal barges side by side.
The canal was reopened by the Queen on 8th August 1990. In 1996 a back pumping system was installed to move approximately one lock full of water every eleven minutes from the bottom to the top of the flight to allow boats to use the flight all day.
On your way back up to Devizes pause a while at the Caen Hill cafe on the north side where you can be sure of a friendly welcome and a snack to help you on your way.
This roundtrip canalside walk in Devizes should be comfortably completed within two hours of setting out and the towpath itself is very easy, smooth and suitable for use by wheelchairs.
It is possible to park in a small layby at the very bottom on the B3101 when its (not too often) very quiet but we recommend the official car parking area on the north side of the canal where there is wheelchair access to the top of the locks and the Caen Hill Cafe. There is also access across the lock on to the reinstated towpath on the opposite bank. Directions to the Caen Hill Car Park
Drive from Devizes on the A361 Bath Road westbound. You descend Caen Hill. Take the filter lane to the right on the B3101 Rowde road at the bottom of the hill. You pass over the canal bridge. The Caen Hill Lock car park access is up a long narrow (signposted Caen Hill Locks) metalled track to the right approximately half a mile beyond the humpback canal bridge. Ignore the first turning. It is the second signposted turn from the canal bridge. The cafe is at SN10 1QRCanalside Walk in Devizes