Short
Breaks

Devizes & return from Hilperton Marina

4 Nights
TOTAL LOCKS: 72
CRUISING TIME PER DAY: 7 HOURS (21 HOURS IN TOTAL)

This cruise doesn't just take the traveller into a leafy landscape, it promises a panorama of black and white locks hurling still water uphill in a spectacle that is guaranteed to stay in your mind long after the end of your journey.

Almost immediately after leaving Hilperton Marina, you are out into open countryside with a gentle couple of miles before reaching the first of the locks which characterise this route. Just before the first of Semington’s two locks lies the now almost invisible junction with the Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal. The canal used to link the Kennet & Avon Canal with the River Thames at Abingdon, and a restoration project aims to ensure that this link returns in the future.

The five Seend Locks lift the canal up still further and you’ve a chance for a quick breather (there’s a conveniently placed pub at the foot of the flight, and another a short walk from the top), before another seven locks take you towards the main event, the amazing Caen Hill Flight.

The canal climbs to its highlight with the Caen Hill Flight, one of the Seven Wonders of Britain’s canals. The 16 locks known as the Caen Hill Flight are actually part of a much longer stretch of 29 locks spread over about 2¼ miles leading to Devizes. Built by engineer John Rennie, the 29 locks carry boats a total of 237ft up the steep hill to Devizes. Boaters travelling through the flight need to arrive between set times and, as there is no mooring allowed up the flight, all 16 locks must be completed by a certain designated time.

200 years ago, the Kennet & Avon Canal was a busy trade route, but competition from the railways eventually forced the canal to close. The Caen Hill Flight inevitably stagnated until a new era of canal enthusiasm and restoration brought the canal back to life. In 1962, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust was formed, and in partnership with British Waterways (now Canal & River Trust) and others, a long battle to restore the canal began. The Kennet & Avon was gloriously reopened for leisure boating by Her Majesty The Queen in 1990. Several locks up the flight are named after volunteers who worked so hard to help achieve the successful restoration of this spectacular canal, and Queen's Lock at the top of the flight is named after Her Majesty.

The success of the canal and fame of the Caen Hill Flight along with the attraction of its leafy canalscape make this a very popular area not only for boaters but also for cyclists and walkers, and of course gongoozlers (people who enjoy watching crews like you work through the locks!). 
There’s a well-placed café at the top of the flight, and another couple of locks lead you to Devizes Wharf where you can moor up and explore the wharf with its museum, and the town beyond. This historic market town was a centre for cloth manufacture and many of its cottages were worked in by weavers until one of the first cloth factories in the south was built by John Anstie in 1785, housing 300 looms. 

The town is renowned for its busy market place and range of independent shops, and has over 500 listed buildings.

Backing onto the canal near the Wharf, Wadworth Brewery, founded in 1875, is still run as a family business by the family of Wadworth’s business partner. The Victorian brewery is well known not only for its beer but also for its shire horses, whose stables are open to the public. There’s an interesting Visitor Centre and it’s possible to take a guided tour of the brewery.

The brewery keeps tradition alive, signwriting their own pub signs and delivering its ales by horse and dray. Visit the stables or arrive in time to watch them as they set off on their rounds (and keep your eyes peeled since apparently Wadworth's horses enjoy an occasional pint pulled into their feed!)

Once you’ve explored the town of Devizes and perhaps done a spot of shopping or sampled its real ales, you’ll be ready to retrace your route back to Hilperton.

Featured Boats

Featured Boats from Hilperton Marina, Wiltshire

Two to Five berth Boats

Alvechurch Swift

Max: 4 People

Length: 49ft

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Alvechurch Grebe

Max: 4 People

Length: 47ft

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Alvechurch Heron

Max: 5 People

Length: 58ft

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Alvechurch Bunting

Max: 5 People

Length: 47ft

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Alvechurch Wren

Max: 4 People

Length: 47ft

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couple learning how to drive a canal boat
Alvechurch Weaver

Max: 4 People

Length: 47ft

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Six to eight berth Boats

Alvechurch Eagle

Max: 7 People

Length: 66ft

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Alvechurch Goose

Max: 8 People

Length: 69ft

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Alvechurch Gull

Max: 6 People

Length: 66ft

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Alvechurch Lark

Max: 6 People

Length: 66ft (63ft from Falkirk)

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Alvechurch Thrush

Max: 6 People

Length: 66ft

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Alvechurch Warbler

Max: 8 People

Length: 69ft

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Up to twelve berth Boats

Alvechurch Owl

Max: 10 People

Length: 70ft

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Alvechurch Swan

Max: 12 People

Length: 70ft

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