Caen Hill Locks

Devizes Travel Blog

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nesting swan in front of cafe

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.

the flight of locks
  Really beautiful.  Coming back up the hill, and feeling the heat, I promised myself an icecream.  There is a little cafe, staffed by the lovely friendly sort of lady you often find in tea rooms, and better yet; real icecream.  I was just picking up a Cornetto when I realised that there was Lovingtons, a local-ish product that is just brilliant.  I changed my mind about what flavour I wanted about five times before I got to the front of the queue, and settled on honeycomb.  It was really nice.  I made my way nervously past the swan nest to the car (Swans are about the only animal big enough and hard enough to be a threat to people in the UK.  They don't like you going near the nest; and with their neckls right up and their wings out they must be damn near as tall as me!) and decided to go to Bradford on Avon to see if it was as pretty as people say.
swans never look quite as graceful when they are pulling up lumps of grass and dropping it on their tummies!

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!

sarahelaine says:
thanks!
Posted on: May 11, 2008
tvillingmarit says:
Very nice photos Sarah E
Posted on: May 11, 2008
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nesting swan in front of cafe
nesting swan in front of cafe
the flight of locks
the flight of locks
swans never look quite as graceful…
swans never look quite as gracefu…
holding pool at caen hill
holding pool at caen hill
pink bluebell like flowers
pink bluebell like flowers
warning on the lock - gates narrow
warning on the lock - gates narrow
narrow boat approaching the flight…
narrow boat approaching the fligh…
reed bed
reed bed
funny looking tree
funny looking tree
duck on a tree
duck on a tree
I was aiming for the view and miss…
I was aiming for the view and mis…
nesting swan and the cafe
nesting swan and the cafe
nesting swan
nesting swan
Devizes Sights & Attractions review
Lovely Hill
Caen Hill means Lovely Hill in Celtic, and it is a really nice place. Built during the start of the industrial revolution as a way to get canals up… read entire review
Devizes
photo by: Marinushka