This route passes through a busy stretch – the Batheaston Toll Bridge in particular and then through the village of Bathampton which is popular with visitors to Bath. The path gets less congested and more isolated once you reach the canal which is a popular with walkers, bikers, boaters and kayakers.
Batheaston Toll bridge (Linking Batheaston to Bathampton)
This is one of the first privately owned toll bridge in England. Built in 1872, it replaced the ford and horse ferry. Look out for the signboard at the toll-house denoting toll charges imposed for vehicles and cattle using the bridge in the early days. We were surprised to see toll collectors walking through traffic to collect £1 toll in a basket.
600-year old weir at the Bathampton Mill
The weir just below the toll-bridge was built to accommodate water wheels used by grain mills operating along both sides of the river. It is a favourite point for river cruises, rowing and swimming, and the mill’s pub and courtyard are favourite spots for visitors and locals to grab a pint on especially hot days.
The George Inn
A beer garden along the canal towpath has history dating back to the 12th century and is believed to be a part of a monastery (before it’s dissolution during the rule of Henry VIII).
Place of Origin for Plasticine
Bathampton is also the place where plasticine originated from. It was created by one of the town’s residents – art teacher and creator William Harbutt (1844-1921).
Harbutt moved to Bathampton in 1874 and created initially created plasticine for students in his school. Following demand he started producing it for local shops and when demand increased, he obtained a trademark and built a factory that later supplied plasticine all over the world.
The business was sold and operations of the plasticine factory, which was reconstructed after a fire in 1963, moved out of the village in 1983. Harbutt is buried in the Church of St Nicholas churchyard, Bathampton.
Now a residential home for the elderly, Bathampton Manor was the first home of Ralph Allen (who developed the Bath stone quarries and supplied the yellow stone (which is Bath’s main feature) for construction in Bath and surrounding areas). He acquired the manor through his marriage in 1730 before commissioning the building of Prior Park which is another famous landmark in Bath.
Church of St Nicholas
The church which is visible as you enter Bathampton via the Hampton Mill Lane overbridge has foundations dating back to the 13th century. It was rebuilt in 1750 and renovated sometime in the 19th century. The first governor of New South Wales. Australia Admiral Arthur Phillips is buried in Australia Chapel in the church which depicts the journey of the first fleet to the new colony, and also the names, places of sentencing and sentences of the first batch of convicts transported there.
Kennet & Avon Canal
The name of this canal is derived from the entire length of the 87 mile long canal which runs through the River Avon which links to River Kenneth in Newbury before it flows through Reading where it connects to the River Thames.
The canal runs from the Bristol Channel to London via breathtaking scenery through towns, villages and countryside along the county of Wiltshire county and Cotswold AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Stay tuned for sights along the Kenneth & Avon Canal next week.