The Kennet and Avon Canal

We first met the British canal system in 2008 at the Edstone aqueduct, where it crosses above a minor road and two rail lines north of Stratford-upon-Avon. From below, it looked like a rail bridge but standing on the tow-path and watching a 70’ (21 m) narrow boat navigate the 130 m-long, narrow cast-iron trough of water hanging 20 meters above the road and rail line captured my imagination. We next met it at the Kennet and Avon Dundas Aqueduct, a beautifully elegant arching stone structure carrying canal boats over the Avon River and Westbury-Wessex rail mainlines. A third encounter at the Caen Hill locks on a nearly mystical misty early morning walk cemented the love affair. The first transportation canals in Britain were built by the Romans, but the industrial revolution spawned a frenzy of canal construction during the early 1800s. Ironically, the railroad, itself a product of the same industrial revolution, quickly led to their decline from the mid 1800s onward. Many fell into disuse or were abandoned. Fortunately, the increasing recreational use of canals in the latter half of the 20th century has led to the rehabilitation, restoration, and even expansion of the canal network. Another lasting legacy of the canal frenzy was the world’s first geology map based on the stratigraphy observed by William Smith, its author, during his work as a canal engineer (for more read “The Map That Changed the World” by Simon Winchester). We could not resist revisiting the canals on this trip and they are still a marvellously relaxing interlude, whether walking the canal tow-path, admiring the scenery, are lunching at a canal-side pub.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
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The Kennet and Avon Canal

We first met the British canal system in 2008 at the Edstone aqueduct, where it crosses above a minor road and two rail lines north of Stratford-upon- Avon. From below, it looked like a rail bridge but standing on the tow-path and watching a 70’ (21 m) narrow boat navigate the 130 m-long, narrow cast-iron trough of water hanging 20 meters above the road and rail line captured my imagination. We next met it at the Kennet and Avon Dundas Aqueduct, a beautifully elegant arching stone structure carrying canal boats over the Avon River and Westbury-Wessex rail mainlines. A third encounter at the Caen Hill locks on a nearly mystical misty early morning walk cemented the love affair. The first transportation canals in Britain were built by the Romans, but the industrial revolution spawned a frenzy of canal construction during the early 1800s. Ironically, the railroad, itself a product of the same industrial revolution, quickly led to their decline from the mid 1800s onward. Many fell into disuse or were abandoned. Fortunately, the increasing recreational use of canals in the latter half of the 20th century has led to the rehabilitation, restoration, and even expansion of the canal network. Another lasting legacy of the canal frenzy was the world’s first geology map based on the stratigraphy observed by William Smith, its author, during his work as a canal engineer (for more read “The Map That Changed the World” by Simon Winchester). We could not resist revisiting the canals on this trip and they are still a marvellously relaxing interlude, whether walking the canal tow-path, admiring the scenery, are lunching at a canal-side pub.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow