110-1068_IMG.JPG (217164 bytes)

Click thumbnail to view full size picture of Sapperton canal tunnel entrance



Waypoint Map Reference Bearing to next waypoint
START SO 9478 0333 268


SO 9442 0332


WP2 SO 9386 0339 223
WP3 SO 9363 0314 262
WP4 SO 9209 0293 337
WP5 SO9183 0354 268
WP6 SO 9148 0352 322
WP7 SO 9141 0362 295
WP8 SO9125 0369 356
WP9 SO 9125 0407 281
WP10 SO 9087 0413 311
WP11 SO 9076 0423 351
WP12 SO 9059 0538 90
WP13 SO 9220 0537 154
WP14 SO 9241 0493 146
WP15 SO 9251 0479 77
WP16 SO 9281 0486 58
WP17 SO 9292 0492 144
WP18 SO 9307 0471 87
WP19 SO 9355 0473 97
WP20 SO 9533 0452 115
WP21 SO 9548 0445 212
START SO 9478 0333 -
General:- This 8.3 mile walk would be a typical Cotswold up and downhill ramble if it were not for the inclusion of the Thames Severn canal. It runs alongside it's parent river and allows a unique chance to see how engineers turned a natural feature into a highway. At times the river is higher than the canal then it's lower as the ground falls away. During winter there is more water in the river than there is in the canal so it's easier to imagine how the work was done. Interestingly enough the water has returned to its natural course now the canal is derelict.

The canal was completed in 1789 to link the Severn with the Thames allowing incoming goods from the New World to transfer from Bristol to London. Passengers travelled too, I have heard they had right of way over goods traffic and the bow of their boat carried a scythe to cut the towrope of any boat not giving way. The Sapperton tunnel, at 2.1 miles, was the longest in Britain when it opened. Normally canal boats were towed by a horse but to get through a tunnel two men lay on a plank either side at the bow and "walked" the boat through on the tunnel wall. The canal stayed in use until the 20th century, by then the boat had a motor and towed another barge (the butty) behind as well.

Canals operated up and downhill using locks. Imagine these as a series of steps,  look at the derelict locks just after the Daneway pub and you will see the size of the step and deep vertical grooves at each end for the giant lock gates that held the water back. There is a small hole in the wall near the entrance and exit of the lock, this was an overflow that allowed water to bypass the lock if the canal became too full.

The section between Waypoints 17and 18 is difficult to describe accurately, take your compass and set it to 144 degrees to aid navigation.

How to get there:- From the A419 Stroud to Cirencester road turn north approx 5.5 miles west of Cirencester at SO 9378 0184. Go over the first cross roads then turn left to Sapperton at SO 9499 0295. As you enter the village pass the Bell pub then turn right into a dead end road and park near the church.