Caen Hill Locks

This flight of 16 locks may be the most impressive anywhere on the UK's waterways.

They were engineer John Rennie's solution to climbing the very steep hill in Devizes, and were the last part of the 87 mile route of the Kennet & Avon Canal to be completed.

The dramatic change in height of the land at Caen Hill resulted in the need for 16 locks to be built in close succession. Because of the steepness of the hill there was not space to use the normal arrangement of water pounds between the locks and so engineer John Rennie had to build unusually large side ponds to replenish the water in each lock after use.

The locks and ponds were the last stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal to be built in 1810 and form part of a longer 29-lock flight at Devizes, all packed into just over two miles. They are designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument – the same level of heritage protection given to Stonehenge.

From open ponds to grassland and scrubby woodland, Caen Hill is a haven for a rich variety of wildlife. In early summer swans can be seen with their cygnets among the bull rushes and reeds of the many ponds. Dragonflies and damselflies provide flashes of colour in summer while mallards and moorhens are a regular sight. The locks are also a regular haunt for bats in the early evening and keep your eyes open for water voles too.

Boaters and walkers alike can recover from the exertions of climbing the flight at the Caen Hill Cafe, delightfully situated at the top of the locks.




  • Historic attractions