Discover pretty Cotswold villages, superb water meadows and experience one of the deepest locks in the area! You'll circumnavigate Lower Heyford before reaching the first lift bridge (most are left open for you to pass unhindered but this one you'll need to operate).
Shortly after you'll see yet magnificent tithe barn and manorial farm at Upper Heyford, the old airbase has been shut for many years now, so your progress is peaceful as you work through the first of 3 locks, Allens Lock, close to sleepy Upper Heyford rising up the hill from the lock. Rolling pastures accompany your route to Heyford Common Lock and Somerton Deep Lock, a superb area at which to tie up and laze the day away. Turn at Somerton Wharf before the lock, or above the lock if you prefer and don't mind a bit of queuing at busy times.
Gently glide through rolling countryside as you follow the pretty Cherwell Valley; the canal winding its way through copses and pastures. The first lock, Dashwood Lock, is characterised by a Cotswold stone bridge. Only a mile further and you will reach the sylvan Northbrook Lock, close to a tiny farming hamlet and historic drovers bridge over the adjacent River Cherwell; for those with Sharp eyes keep a look out for Kingfishers as they are a common sight along this stretch. Another mile brings you to the old Kirtlington Quarry(now a country park) - fascinating and well worth visiting for its open space, history and fossils. Many of our hirers never go further than here because this makes an ideal day with plenty of time for a picnic or barbecue at lunchtime... or a stroll to Kirtlington and the Oxford Arms, well known for its good food.
The next Lock, Pigeon's Lock, leads to the Enslow Wharf, where you will need to turn.
Routes from Bradford On Avon
Dayhire routes starting from Bradford on Avon, cruising West towards Claverton or East towards Semington, the choice is yours...
We will help you through your first and only lock at the the wharf and then you can start your journey through the beautiful tree lined Avon Valley. You will pass the ancient Tithe Barn and the cruise alongside Barton Country Parkas far as the secluded Hamlet of Avoncliff, which is also where you cross the first of two magnificent aqueducts across the River Avon. Cruising along the other side of the valley you'll reach the second aqueduct at Dundas and the entrance to Somerset Coal Canal with the Visitor Centre and Cafe, If you choose to cruise even further you can reach Claverton with its popular Weir Pooland the Old Pumping Station. Click the link for more information on these attractions. Do spend time at each aqueduct; walk around and under them. At Avoncliff look out for the pair of old watermills, and the quaint railway halt which is still working!
Turn at Claverton for your return journeyand if you need help with the lock back at the wharf just ask!
Cruising through open countryside you can reach either Semington - at which there is the Somerset Arms about 400yds from the canal, or the bottom of Seend Locks where you can moor up and take a walk up the lock flight to the Barge Inn. Turn here for your return journey...