On a Section of the Grand Western Canal

Whilst at the Cadeside CAMC site last January we did an interesting walk along a disused section of the Grand Western Canal and we’ve decided to combine part of that route into today’s walk.

Our walk starts by leaving Cadeside CAMC site and turning right along the lane.  It is only a short distance along the lane to a junction, but caution is needed because it is a busy stretch of road leading to the local recycling centre.  At a junction we continue straight on alongside the road signposted to Nynehead and Milverton.  This soon takes us under a railway bridge carrying the Penzance to Paddington line.

Within a couple of hundred yards we reach Wharf Cottage, which sits besides the disused Grand Western Canal. Here we take a footpath on the left that runs along the route of the canal towpath besides the old wharf.

Within a couple of hundred yards we reach the remains of the Nynehead Boatlift.  This is one of seven on the canal and reportedly they were the first commercially successful boatlifts in Britain and operated on a balance principle.  Work was done in the late 1990’s to clear this site and it is now possible to get a good view of the remains.

We go up besides the top level of the boatlift, and are now on a bridge spanning the carriage driveway to Nynehead House. To the south is the railway bridge built in the 1840’s to take the Bristol to Exeter railway line across the driveway.

Our route follows a section of the old towpath.  The Grand Western Canal ran between Taunton and Tiverton and was part of a plan to link the Bristol Channel with the English Channel.  The lower section of the canal between Lowdwells and Tiverton was constructed first, between 1810 and 1814, and passed through mainly flat land.  The second phase linking Taunton to Lowdwells is the part we are now walking along.

Construction on this section started in 1831 and was completed in 1838.  The main traffic along the canal was limestone being transported to limekilns along the way to be converted to quicklime used as a fertiliser on farmland and in the construction of houses.

Like so many of the canals we have walked this fell victim to the introduction of steam trains. The Great Western Railway line ran alongside the canal and the competition from the railway saw the decline of the canal.  Just to make sure their railway was dominant GWR leased the canal in 1854 and then purchased it in 1865.  The Somerset section of the canal was closed in 1867.

Continuing on the waymarked path we reach the B3187 which we cross and continue our route along the footpath, this is part of the West Deane Way.  The well-used fenced route is extremely muddy so it is slow going.

The next section of path has been flooded by the recent heavy rain so we have to negotiate a way through without getting wet feet.

On entering a field we see the clear remains of the canal in front of us, but our route leaves the West Deane Way as we turn left to walk uphill to a stile.

We now head south across fields to reach a track besides a field of solar panels and stay with the track as it passes Tonedale farm and heads into Lower Westford.  At a minor road we turn left and then almost immediately take a footpath on the right which goes down a driveway besides a thatched cottage.  The footpath then enters a field and we continue in a southerly direction on the path towards trees.

After entering the trees we reach a crossing on the railway.  This is a mainline so we cross with extreme care and join a footpath on the far side which heads east through the trees.

We stay besides the stream to reach a tarmac path which we follow to reach lakes next door to the Wellington Sports Centre.

On reaching Corams Lane we turn right and follow the pavement besides the B3187 Waterloo Road.  As this road nears the centre of Wellington it becomes North Street.  At a crossroads with traffic lights we turn left and follow the High Street.   After a set of traffic lights, we continue straight on to pass the church of St John the Baptist.  From here we follow the Taunton Road until we reach the entrance to Cadeside Caravan Park.

Our walk has covered just over four and a half miles.  Thankfully, despite the forecast, we have avoided the rain which arrives soon after when we are already sat comfortably in the caravan.

You can view this 4.5 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here (Subscription to OS Maps Required)

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL128 – Taunton & Blackdown Hills.

12th January 2020

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)

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