Walking the Devon County Council Country Park:
The Grand Western Canal
The Grand Western Canal stretches many miles along the mid Devon countryside and has become a stunning linear nature reserve for all to enjoy. Driving along the road from Tiverton to Halberton you will cross the canal, parking is available in a large lay-by after the bridge and ramps are provided for wheelchair access. Walking is good either way along the canal but you will need to turn back to get off again unless you walk all the way to Tiverton where there is access into the town.
For Canal MAP click this link: Grand Western Canal Map
OS Landranger 181 Grid Ref: 998131
GPS walking and cycling routes along the Grand Western Canal
The towpath runs beside the Canal Country Park for the full 11.25 miles and is a popular place to enjoy a flat, easy walk in the countryside. There are several circular walks incorporating the towpath, click here for details.
There are picnic sites at Tiverton, Crownhill Bridge, Tiverton Road Bridge, Greenway Bridge, Sampford Peverell, Whipcott Bridge and Lowdwells.
The following directions describe a circular route following the canal towpath using the bus to return to the starting point at Tiverton Parkway Station.
From Tiverton Parkway Station, leave the station along the access road. At the main road turn right and after 30 metres turn left along a track that leads to the Link Road Bridge and a boat-launching slipway. Turn left and follow the towpath through Sampford Peverell.
The stretch of canal from Sampford Peverell to Halberton has excellent views across to the Blackdown Hills. During late spring / summer it is home to multiple populations of Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers who nest in the bankside vegetation.
Just before Rock Bridge is Rock House, built around the same time as the canal for Captain John Twisden – the engineer who succeeded James Green in extending the canal to Taunton. The name ‘Rock’ relates to the fact that the bedrock is very close to the surface at this point, and it was a remarkable achievement for a cutting to be chiselled out by hand through this section by the navvies who built the canal. Equally impressive is the beautiful Oak tree on the offside of the canal near Rock House that has grown to a tremendous size with its roots sprawling over the bedrock.
After passing over Swing embankment with its wonderful views, you'll pass under Swing Bridge. This is an ‘accommodation bridge’ built to link up farmer’s land that was split by the construction of the canal. Further on through a large cutting is Greenway Bridge.
For the next mile and a quarter, the canal sweeps out on a large loop called the ‘Swan’s Neck’ which keeps the canal on a level contour above Halberton. Beside Milestone 3 are Tiverton Road Car Park and the Dudley Weatherley Jubilee Bridge. This lift bridge was built in 2002 – the Queen’s 50th jubilee year - and is named after a well-known local artist who was prominent in the campaign to save the canal back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Sadly Dudley died in 2004, but this elegant lift bridge will help to keep his memory alive for generations to come.
At Crownhill Bridge (also known as Changepath) the towpath crosses the bridge and continues on the opposite side for the rest of the journey to Tiverton. The towpath crosses over an Aqueduct that was built in 1847 as part of the construction of the Bristol and Exeter Railway branch from Tiverton Parkway to Tiverton. Two arches were built to allow for future expansion, but only one line was ever used and this was closed in 1967.
The section from East Manley Bridge to the Basin in Tiverton is where the Horse drawn passenger barge operates twice daily from Easter until the end of October (Tel. 01884 253345 for more info)
For the last mile of the canal, the route passes through a residential area before arriving in the Tiverton Basin where you will find the Canal Shop, Tea Gardens, Canal Visitor Centre, Duck's Ditty Floating Café Bar and Public Toilets.
From the Basin the route follows Canal Hill down to a mini roundabout and then right, down to Great Western Way. Turn left onto Great Western Way and then right onto Station Lane, this will lead you into Tiverton town centre where you will find a large array of shops, services and parking. A little way along the pedestrianised Fore Street is Phoenix Lane, at the bottom of which you will find the Tourist Information Centre and Tiverton Bus Station.
Buses leave every hour to the station and the journey takes around 20 minutes. Services are less frequent on Sundays, check with the Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or visit www.traveline.org.uk