Our walk today is from our temporary residence in Taunton into the town centre. It does not sound very enticing, but this walk takes us alongside the River Tone and then the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.
Today the river is low. During the 2013/14 winter this river burst its banks and was part of the flooding that caused chaos on the Somerset Levels. From its source at Beverton Pond in the Parish of Huish Champflower, in the Brendon Hills, it flows just over 20 miles to its confluence with the River Parrett. Along the way it falls 1,214 feet.
After walking under the Obridge Viaduct we join the towpath of the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal and follow this to Firepool Lock. This is the point where the canal joins the River Tone.
The canal opened in 1827 and ran from Taunton to the River Parrett at Huntworth. In 1837 the canal was extended to join the River Parrett at Bridgwater. I always find the history of canal ownership interesting. This canal having operated successfully for a number of years was sold to the Bristol and Exeter Railway Company in 1866 and then to Great Western Railway. Not surprisingly the railway company did not promote or maintain commercial traffic and the last barge toll was collected in 1907.
Apparently during the Second World War this canal, along with the Chard Canal and River Axe, became a major defence line to restrict German troops moving from the South West further up the country. If you walk the length of the canal you can still see Pill Boxes and Tank Traps.
The other interesting thing about this canal is it was one of the first to be used commercially to transport water, with Wessex Water topping up Durleigh Reservior by pumping water from the canal with the canal level being maintained by adding water from the River Tone at Firepool Lock.
From Taunton we walk back on the pavements through the town centre. Even at a brisk pace it has taken us close to two hours and has been an interesting wander.
5th November 2014
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2014)