The Kennet & Avon Canal
The Barge Inn is located right on the towpath of the Kennet and Avon canal, any closer it would be in the water!. The pub is a magnificent Georgian building constructed from Bath stone and was purpose built at the same time as the canal in 1810, to act as the 'motorway services' of its time. In those days it was a lot more than just a Wiltshire canal side pub and along with its adjacent barn housed a magnitude of canal side services for boaters and their families. Naturally one of these was a brewery, but there was also a bakery, slaughterhouse and general store, plus stables for the horses that used to haul the canal barges. On the pubs roof there used to be sited a timber built look-out tower, so a watch could be kept for approaching boats and horses readied for the next leg of their journey along the Kennet and Avon.
In its heyday, during the most prosperous years of the canal trade, Honeystreet was a hive of commercial activity with a busy wharf, sawmill, fertiliser plant and boat builders. The boat yard was particularly busy, building very many of the barges used on this section of the canal through the Wiltshire countryside. Naturally this industry was thirsty work and the pub would have done a good trade, aided by being positioned just inside the neighbouring parish boundary, and its more 'enlightened' licensing by-laws.
But as we all know the canal's fortunes changed with the coming of the railways and in the case of the Kennet and Avon it was purchased by the railway company GWR in 1852 and from there it was down hill all the way. For the history buffs amongst you there is more information available but for everyone else lets fast forward one hundred and sixty years to where we are today. These days of course narrowboats travel the Kennet and Avon canal for pleasure, either as individually owned craft or hired for holidays. A growing number of people have opted for the 'laid back' lifestyle that canal boating offers and live on their boats full time. The waterway seems to attract many artistic and bohemian folk and there is a great sense of community amongst live aboard boaters.
The section of Kennet and Avon canal at Honeystreet is lock free for fifteen miles and makes for very relaxed boating. However for narrowboats heading in the direction of Bath a real treat lays in wait at Caen Hill in Devizes, but lets not spoil the surprise. The Barge Inn is a great place for boats to stop and not just for the ale and cider. There are 24 hr visitor moorings immediately outside the pub along with with a Kennet and Avon Waterways Trust water point and rubbish bins. Pump-out facilities, gas, diesel and other boating requisites can be found at the nearby boatyard, just to the east of the canal bridge. Happy boating.
The race starts on the Kennet and Avon canal and finishes on
the River Thames.
Traditionally held over the Easter weekend it's been going since 1948. Starting on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Devizes in Wiltshire, it finishes, yes you guessed it, on the River Thames at Westminster, in fact right across from the Houses of Parliament. The race at 125 miles in length is a true test of strength and endurance and its not just the paddling; crews have to haul their canoes out of the water no less than 77 times to get around the canal and river locks. As the Barge Inn is located right on the Kennet and Avon canal bank, the beer garden is a great place to watch the action. And sportingly the licensing authority has given the pub an extra two hours to trade, so you can join us for an early morning pint. And crews, if your arms are aching, pull over for a pint of our infamous Area51 cider, you'll be at Westminister in no time!Fishing on the Kennet and Avon.
The Kennet & Avon provides excellent coarse fishing ( close season March 15th - June 16th) and is well stocked with common, mirror and crucian carp as well as roach, perch and tench. Fishing from the towpath is controlled by Devizes Angling Association. There are also a number of private lakes in the area, a selection of which is listed below:-
Devizes Angling Association. Telephone 01380 725189, Mr. Colin Fell. (Day permits for the Kennet & Avon and River Avon at Melksham)
Blackland Lakes, Nr Calne.Telephone 01249 813672, Mr John Walden. (Casual use, 2 well- stocked lakes. Day tickets & licences available)
Mill Farm Trout Lakes.Worton, Devizes. Telephone 01380 813138 Mr & Mrs Colman. Day and 1/ 2 day tickets availableCycling
Cycling is allowed along nearly the entire stretch of the Kennent and Avon canal, and can be a fantastic way to see all that it has to offer. Just remember to bring a helmet and try not to fall in! There are some great circular cycle routes and the Pewsey Circular route is certainly no exception.
1: Pewsey Head out from the centre of Pewsey in the direction of Burbage, just follow the signs out of the village (if you see signposts for Reading then you may have gone a bit too far!)
Keep going till you reach the sign for Milkhouse Water, turn left and follow the road over the railway and the canal.
When you see the no through road sign, take a sharp left along the Wiltshire Cycleway and keep following the Route 4 sign. When you reach the end of the village, turn right onto the A345 - but be careful as this is a busy road. Keep going along the road for a short way then turn left for Stowell, signposted Wiltshire Cycleway. Continue along to the crossroads and then turn left, looking for the West Stowell and Pewsey sign. Follow this down onto a left hand bend and then turn right still on the Wiltshire Cycleway. At the end of the road, you will reach Wilcot Water village.
2: Wilcot The Kennet and Avon should be on your left as you reach Wilcot. Take a left at the T-junction and cross over the canal. As you are going past the Golden Swan Pub, turn right and continue down the road signed to Manningford. You will come to a T-junction where you should talke a right, again signed for Manningford. Take the next left signed to Pewsey and continue along the road, when you see the church at the end turn right to head back to the middle of Pewsey.And if you get lost, just pull out your smartphone and let the GPS takeover! Sorted!
Start & End Location
Cycling route: Pewsey Circular Route via Oare
Easting: 416385, Northing: 160392