Bath Circular via 2 Tunnels and a Canal Walk

Walk/Cycle route via a disused railway, Devonshire and Combe Down tunnels, Tucking Mill Viaduct, the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, Dundas Aqueduct, and historic Bath

Length 12.4 miles ( 19.9 km) with 425 ft (125 meters) of ascent
Toughness 2 out of 10 - almost step free over cycle friendly paths
Maps
Features

This walk uses a newly opened (2013) walk/cycle path along a disused railway line with 2 tunnels and 2 viaducts. The return route is along the Kennet and Avon Canal tow path, passing the Dundas Aqueduct. The final stretch through the centre of historic Bath. The entire route is surfaced.

The walk heads west from the centre of Bath. If starting from Bath Station, you can follow the riverside path.

Cross the river and join the railway path. Follow it via a mix of cuttings, embankments and bridges. The first tunnel is the 409 metre (0.25 mile) long Devonshire Tunnel. The path crosses a viaduct over Lyncombe Vale. The second tunnel is the 1,672 metre (1 mile) long Combe Down tunnel, which is now the longest pedestrian tunnel in the country. Both tunnels have lighting, but is would be prudent to bring a torch. Finally the railway path crosses the Tucking Mill viaduct over Horsecombe Vale before reaching Midford. Being a former railway line, the path's gradients are gentle

Just before the Tucking Mill viaduct, there is a footpath (only) short cut (avoiding Midford) to Monkton Combe, saving 2km

Lunch is at The Hope and Anchor. If you have a bike, you can continue south along the Colliers Way / NN24 partly off road cycle route.

Head north east from Midford, along a quiet lane, to the Monkton Combe and the Wheelwrights Arms pub. Carry on to join a canal spur - The Somerset Coal Canal (cafe, Angelfish Restaurant) which soon joins the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath for the return journey by Dundas Aqueduct (which takes the canal over the River Avon). Follow the canal path (initially north, don't cross the aqueduct) back to Bath. There is a popular canal side pub at Bathampton on the way.

Leave the canal to take a short cut to the station through the historic old town. The route shown is a cycle friendly one. Walkers should feel free to vary it

Note that this route is not completely step-free. Several bridges on the former railway route were removed while it was closed. Not all of them have yet been replaced - see the 2 Tunnels Greenway News page.

If you like this walk, there are lots of amazing "levanda" (canal) walks with tunnels through mountains in Madeira

Walk Options

(not shown on the map) In winter, or if you simply want a shorter walk, you could walk back over the hill directly to Bath, through Prior Park (NT) if you are a member, or via Claverton Down if you are not, following points 3.5 to 1 on the NT Bath Skyline Walk

As mentioned above, cyclists can continue south from Midford along the partly traffic free Colliers Way

You could cross the Aqueduct, and walk to Bradford-on-Avon, which has direct trains to Bath, and to London via Salisbury. See SWC Walk 6 : Bradford to Bath

History
  • Bath is a major tourist attraction.
  • The single track Bath Extension Line of the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (the "S&D, "Slow & Dirty", or, "Slow & Doubtful") closed in 1966. The start of the route now re-opened as an "urban greenway" with 2 tunnels under Bath's suburbs, and 2 viaducts. The first is the Devonshire Tunnel (409 metres). The second is the Combe Down Tunnel (1,672 metres), the site of a 1929 train crash when the driver was overcome by fumes.
  • The £1.9 million 2 Tunnels Greenway Project re-opened the route as an Urban Greenway (mixed use walk/cycle route) in 2013. The route is now managed by Sustrans. A description of the route
  • Kennet and Avon Canal
  • Dundas Aqueduct
Transport

By Train

Bath has a fast (1 hr 30 mins, direct) train service from London Paddington, and a much slower but cheaper one from London Waterloo (2 hrs 30 mins, direct or change at Salisbury).

However, there are problems: 1) these stations are outside the Network Card area, which makes the journey more expensive, and 2) the tickets on the fast trains from Paddington are much more expensive than the slower ones from Waterloo

  • Book a week or 2 in advance, and get "Advance" tickets. These are sold as one-way singles, and are about £10 each, so £20 return.
  • Travel in a group of 4, and use the GroupSave promotion, and travel for half price, about £24 each.
  • Its £47 is you buy a "Paddington" ticket on the day.

Suggested Train: Plan 3+ weeks in advance to allow advance tickets to be purchased. Take the first train after 9am from Paddington.

By Car

About 2 hrs 15 mins from London.

Park at Midford (i.e. away from Bath centre, for easy parking)

If making a weekend of it, Bristol, Avebury and Glastonbury are nearby.

Lunch

The Hope and Anchor Midford, BA2 7DD, 01225 832296

Wheelwrights Arms Country Inn, Monkton Combe, BA2 7HB, 01225 722287

Help Us!

After the walk, we would love to get your feedback

Photos

Upload your photos to the SWC Group on Flickr, and videos to Youtube. This walk's tags are:

swcwalks
swcwalk186
Profile
Trains

Out: (not a train station)

Back: (not a train station)

By Car

Start: BA1 1SU Directions

Amazon
Help

Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Jun-17

Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml