News article created on 14 March 2019

Caen Hill gets £13,000 winter make over

We have carried out more than £30,000 worth of vital maintenance and repair work to Caen Hill Locks in Wiltshire this winter, with the team finishing work this week ahead of the summer cruising season.

Walking on the towpath at Caen Hill Locks Walking on the towpath at Caen Hill Locks

Caen Hill Lock Flight is a scheduled ancient monument and one of the greatest boating, carrying the canal up a total of 29 locks with a rise of 237 feet over two miles. The works to protect this special site are part of an £86,000 winter conservation programme spread across the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Over the winter, our specialist teams worked on seven of the 29 locks, relining and boarding the gates to fix leaks, preserve water, and make them easier for boaters to use.

Caroline Robson, engagement manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Every year, thousands of people come to marvel at John Rennie’s extraordinary feat of engineering. As one of the seven wonders of the waterways, it’s important to keep it in top condition for the boaters who take on the challenge, the gongoozlers urging them on, and the volunteer lock keepers lending a helping hand!

Caen Hill Lock Flight was the final stretch of the Kennet & Avon Canal to be completed, solving the puzzle of how to carry water up such a steep hill. Whilst the original cargoes of coal, stone, and grain may be consigned to history, the canal continues to delight thousands of locals and visitors every year.

“Today the canal is a leisure destination and a haven for wildlife, as well as a place to explore the country’s rich industrial heritage.  We want more people to come and discover the sense of wellbeing being by the water brings. The Kennet & Avon Canal forms part of the Great West Way – a major new touring route being developed between London and Bristol which joins-up many of England’s most iconic attractions and encourages visitors to venture off the beaten track and explore more of the region by road or by rail, by boat, by cycle or on foot.  Works like those we’ve carried out at Caen Hill help make such an exciting project possible.

“Modern canals offer an amazing, tranquil space, where everything slows down – a great place to escape the pressures of modern life.  We know from research that people are happier and more relaxed when they’re by water, and activities such as walking, cycling, boating, fishing, canoeing and paddle boarding improve people’s mental and physical well-being.”