Caen Hill Locks
Devizes Travel Blog› entry 64 of 87 › view all entries
I went for a walk at Caen Hill near Devizes, which is a series of Lock gates; see brief history lesson below. It was genuinly very hot, but overcast, and puffing up and down (or actually, down then up) the hill highlighted that I need to get more exercise. I walked for about an hour and a half; I guess that would be about 6 miles, as a rule, although that doesn't allow for stopping and taking photos.
Caen hill is lovely, and I'll write a review of the area in case people want to know the practical bits. This year the UK pretty much skipped spring in favour of arriving straight in summer; there were pink-bluebell-like-flowers, those blue things that look like blue scarlet pimpernells, and the last of the may blossom. The butterflies are out, although it's too early for dragonflies, and there are also lots of coots around.
A brief History lesson on Caen Hill...
Once upon a time, it could take weeks to get goods from Bristol to London. And as the Atlantic trade grew, this got to be an issue. So it was a good idea to build a canal so that goods could be floated to London, or to Brisotl from the continenet via London. Now, the problem with this was it involved climbing hills. Rennie, an engineer, created this impressive set of locks to solve the problem. 29 locks, 16 within a single stretch, to get up the hill. Then a couple of years later Brunel came along and built a railway, which was faster and didn't involve operating 29 lock gates. Such is life!
For years after teh decline of the canals, Caen Hill sat and decayed. The great holding pools that guaranteed water and the lock gates mouldered quietly. Then in the 1980s, people decided to restore it, and in 1990, the Queen re-opened the Kennet and Avon canals to the public. It is perfectly possible to hire a canal boat and take a trip the whole way from Bristol to Reading, although not right into London, and why you would want to go to Reading is beyond me!