A walk beside the Kennet and Avon Canal
PUBLISHED: 10:16 06 January 2011 | UPDATED: 10:19 09 October 2012
Enjoy this stroll beside the Kennet and Avon Canal with two interesting places to visit along the way.
Distance: 4 miles (7.25km)
Time: 2 hours
Start: Pay and display car park opposite the Crofton Pumping Station (grid ref: SU261623; nearest postcode: SN8 3DN)
The walk starts at the Crofton pumping station which houses two magnificent Cornish beam engines. The engine house, a Grade 1 Listed building, was constructed in 1807 to pump water from the reservoir into the summit of the Kennet and Avon canal. The pumping station is open from Easter to September and the engines can be seen working several weekends during the summer months.
The walk continues along a pretty stretch of the canal where you might spot kingfishers, little grebes and Canada geese. The second interesting place to visit along the route is Wilton Windmill, recently featured in BBC TV series The Victorian Farm. Built in the early 19th century, it replaced watermills which had been demolished or lost their source of power when the canal was constructed.
The mill was in use for over 100 years until the newly built, faster-operating, steam-powered mills started to produce cheaper bread and Wilton Windmill was eventually abandoned in 1908. It was restored in 1976 and is now the only working windmill in Wessex. The Mill opens Sunday afternoons and Bank Holidays during the summer.
The return journey concludes with a very pleasant stroll through the small picturesque village of Wilton, with charming thatched cottages and a village pond. The final stretch of the walk follows the footpath beside Wilton Water (also known as Wide Water), a small summit reservoir fed by natural springs which supplies water to the canal.
1 .Turn right out of the car park, continue along the road and go over a railway bridge. Follow the road between the railway line and the canal then bear left over a canal bridge (no.101) and go through a gate on the left onto the towpath. Very soon you get as good view of Crofton pumping station. Carry on to the next bridge, cross over the track passing through two gates and continue along the tow path. Cross a pair of stiles and carry on, eventually passing under a bridge (no. 99).
2.At the next bridge turn right, continuing straight ahead on the bridleway between two fields. Pass to the left of a metal gate and bear slightly left up the hill between two woods. At the top of the hill carry on straight ahead onto a gravel track. When reaching a lane turn right and after a short distance along the lane turn left onto a byway. When the path splits take the right-hand fork following the byway sign.
3.Once you reach the road turn right and now you have a lovely view of the windmill. After a visit to the windmill, walk back to the road, turn left and walk down the hill. At the T-junction turn left, and carry on into the pretty village of Wilton. Follow the road as it bears right, passing the Swan Inn.
4.When you reach the village pond, turn right onto a footpath signed Bedwyn and then turn immediately left following the sign for Wide Water and Beam Engine. Continue along this path beside Wilton Water and when you reach the towpath, turn left. Retrace your steps back to bridge 101, turn right and follow the lane back to the car pacr.