Boat Hire

Bristol and return from Hilperton Marina - 7 Nights

Cruising Time Per Day 4hrs • Total Locks 28


Hilperton to Bristol –
through Bradford on Avon, over several aqueducts, along the River Avon and back – 7 nights – total locks 28 (14 x 2)


A canal journey through the Avon valley, onto the River Avon itself and onwards into the heart of Bristol's busy harbour. As well as soaking up peaceful green scenery, this route has real stories to tell – from Jane Austen's genteel Bath to the pioneering explorers introducing tobacco, rum and cotton to Bristol.

It’s a short gentle cruise from Hilperton Marina over Ladydown Aqueduct and Biss Aqueduct then through open countryside to Bradford on Avon.

The busy wharf area above Bradford Lock has a convenient teashop and pub opposite and below the lock, so expect friendly gongoozlers to watch you work through the lock. Bradford on Avon, sometimes described as a miniature Bath, is built in terraces on the hillside overlooking the Avon valley. The town was once a thriving centre for weaving, and the banks of the river are lined with former warehouses, mostly now converted into modern flats.

The canalside medieval Tithe Barn is surrounded by artists’ studios, galleries, shops and a tearoom. 168ft long with timber cruck roof, this awesome barn was built in the early 14th century, and is one of the finest examples in the UK of a monastic stone barn.

The canal follows the tree-lined river Avon below for the next mile or so along a popular mooring stretch, before views open up as you approach Avoncliff Aqueduct (an architectural gem designed and built by John Rennie and his chief engineer John Thomas) where the canal takes a sharp turn to the right.

Beyond the aqueduct, the canal is bordered by the trees of Conkwell Wood, allowing fleeting glimpses of the Avon valley and fields of sheep to your left. Dundas Aqueduct again carries the Kennet & Avon Canal over the river and railway below. The aqueduct is a monumental work of classical art built in 1804 with John Rennie’s distinctive mix of architecture and engineering. Look out for carved signatures of stonemasons who worked on the aqueduct. At its end, a short stretch of the former Somersetshire Coal Canal heads off to the left, with Canal Visitor Centre, café and restaurant.

Claverton Pumping Station is worth a diversion down from the canal. It used to pump water up from the river to the canal and, restored and maintained by volunteers, can still be seen working on special ‘Pumping Days’.

The canal veers to the west as it reaches Bathampton, passing popular moorings and the George pub, once a 12th-century monastery. The next mile towards the city of Bath cruises high above the valley and the busy A4 below as you pass long lines of moored boats. The canal sweeps under ornate cast-iron bridges through Sydney Gardens and under Cleveland House Tunnel, which used to be the canal company’s headquarters.

Bath’s trademark Georgian houses line the canal, and the top lock has sweeping views over the city. The original locks 8 & 9 were merged to create Bath Deep Lock, one of the deepest on the entire canal network, and the canal finally joins the river Avon at Bath Bottom Lock (no.7). This beautiful city offers much to explore with its Royal Crescents, Jane Austen, Roman soldiers, Palladian mansions and Regency houses, and of course chic shopping and places to eat.

Continuing from Bath towards Bristol, your route now follows the river that you’ve shadowed so far on your journey. The Avon snakes its way through the outskirts of Bath then out into mainly open countryside punctuated by large river locks with distinctive weirs alongside. After you reach Hanham Lock, lock 1 of the Kennet & Avon Canal, the tidal river Avon swirls its way into Bristol before the feeder canal beyond Netham Lock makes a straight beeline towards the heart of the city and the Floating Harbour.

This is a travellers’ city, simmering with stories of explorers, immigrants and migrants. A life-sized sculpture of John Cabot (1425-1500) has his salt-weathered face peering towards the sea that he once journeyed to ‘discover’ North America, and claim it for England. Bristol’s relationship with the sea has been a constant battle with the tides, and its importance as a port is surprising given all the odds nature threw against it. Before the Floating Harbour was built, the Mud Dock dating back to 1625 was where ships had to berth on the soft muddy bottom of the river. The tides of Bristol’s two rivers played havoc with the moored ships, whose crews had to tidy away spars and rigging in a bid to reduce damage as the tides fell. That’s where the phrase ‘All shipshape and Bristol fashion!’ comes from.

In 1802 William Jessop was tasked with creating a harbour of safer moorings with ships being kept afloat instead of stranded in mud (hence the name Floating Harbour). Once the harbour opened, the port prospered during the Industrial Revolution, becoming Britain’s second major transatlantic port after Liverpool. Bristol’s prosperity came from boats arriving with tobacco, rum, cotton, timber and sugar; and leaving with finished cotton goods, glass, brassware and soap. Tragically, Bristol’s darkest history also tells that around 40 per cent of the city’s income was connected to the slave trade by 1740.

The Floating Harbour today teems with contemporary art galleries including the Arnolfini, trendy places to eat and cutting-edge museums in former warehouses, and the city centre is only a stone’s throw from the water with all that Bristol has to offer.

After exploring the city, enjoy this dynamic route back to Hilperton from a new perspective.


The following are examples of the boats that you can hire from ABC Boat Hire at Hilperton Marina:


Alvechurch Weaver - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Weaver - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Grebe - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Wren - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Wren - For a maximum of 4 people, 2+2 Berth, Length 49ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Bunting - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 47ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Heron - For a maximum of 5 people, 2+3 Berth, Length 58ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Thrush - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Thrush - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Lark - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Gull - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+2 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (6 berth) - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (6 berth) - For a maximum of 6 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (7 berth) - For a maximum of 7 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Eagle (7 berth) - For a maximum of 7 people, 4+3 Berth, Length 66ft, Cruiser Stern

Alvechurch Goose - For a maximum of 8 people, 6+2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Goose - For a maximum of 8 people, 6+2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Goose - For a maximum of 8 people, 6+2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-traditional Stern

Alvechurch Warbler - For a maximum of 8 people, 6 + 2 Berth, Length 69ft, Semi-Traditional Stern

Alvechurch Owl - For a maximum of 10 people, 6+4 Berth, Length 70ft, Crusier Stern

Alvechurch Owl - For a maximum of 10 people, 6+4 Berth, Length 70ft, Crusier Stern

Alvechurch Swan - For a maximum of 12 people, 8+4 Berth, Length 70ft, Crusier Stern



Return to Hilperton Marina page


Check Availability and Book












Feefo average score:
4.6 out of 5.

Read our reviews here


uk boating maps

  >

Website Designed and develped by Nexus Creative