GREAT BEDWYN TO CROFTON
Click on thumbnail for picture of Wilton windmill
There are 2 key points of interest on the route and as none of them take a long time to view it's worth a short detour. They are only open from Easter to end of September so it's worth saving this walk for the spring/summer period.
Crofton Steam Engine is unique and people often look in disbelief when they realise its sole purpose is to pump water up from the river below to the Kennet & Avon Canal. The canal suffered water shortage problems right from the outset, much of it went via leaks but the chain of locks at Devizes also consumed vast quantities of water each time a boat went through. The Victorian canal owners turned to James Watt, inventor of the steam engine. He provided a giant beam engine with cylinders 3 feet in diameter to pump the water and housed it in a massive 3 storey building with a chimney to match. The curious will notice a small building close to the canal, this houses a modern pump to do the same job as the steam engine and you cannot but wonder how far technology has come when you compare the size of one with the other. More remarkable still, the steam engine is in running order! A dedicated team of enthusiasts fire it up most Bank Holidays so you can see it in all its glory. At other times you can visit and imagine the vast machine hissing and whooshing as the beam rocks. Log on to www.katrust.org to learn more.
Wilton windmill is also fully restored and they too allow the public to watch it work on Sunday afternoons. At first sight it is hard to believe the sails are able to drive the crude wooden machinery to grind corn but, providing there is enough wind, once the sails are set you can see it work with a timeless grace little seen in modern machinery.
(GPS length short route 4.97 miles, longer route 7.58 miles).
How to get there: From A4 Marlborough to Hungerford Rd turn south at SU 2956 6789. Follow signs to Great Bedwyn passing through Chisbury on the way. Once in Great Bedwyn follow signs to railway station. Park in station carpark.
From the south: Turn left off A338 at SU2914 6142 Follow signs to Great Bedwyn passing through Crofton on the way. Once in Great Bedwyn follow signs to railway station. Park in station carpark.