Visitor Information

The Grand Western Canal Country Park has dozens of access points, with several car parks and lay-bys dotted along its length that provide easy access onto the towpath.

Here is a list of some of the areas within the Country Park that you may wish to visit:

  • Canal Basin, Tiverton

    Canal Basin, Tiverton

     

    Canal Basin

    The Canal Basin in Tiverton represents the south-western terminus of the Canal. It is the main gateway for the Country Park comprising of a large pay and display car park, Canal Visitor Centre, cafes and tea rooms, a gift shop, boat hire facilities, children’s play park and the Canal Ranger Service offices.  Public toilets are located near the entrance to this car park.

    The Canal Basin can be accessed by the nearby steps or by the ramps provided at either end of the car park.  But before you head up, please take a moment to notice the archways in the walls in front of you – they give a clue as to the original reason for canal’s construction.

    Above each archway was a limekiln and the main cargo on the Grand Western Canal was limestone which was brought to these limekilns to be burnt.  You can discover more about this process and see inside the last remaining open kiln at the top of the steps.

    The Canal Visitor Centre has a range of fascinating displays about the Canal’s turbulent history, its stunning wildlife and information about the range of activities you can enjoy.  It also has lots of hands on activities and games for children and adults alike and is a great place to start your journey along this beautiful canal.

    It is also home to the Tiverton Canal Co which runs the horse drawn barge, canoe and rowing boat hire, the Old Stable gift shop and the floating Ducks Ditty Café-Bar.

    The Canal Tea Rooms and Garden is also located at the end of the car park.

    The picnic site area on the grass beside the canal is located on the former site of several lime kilns, all but one of which are now filled in, although the archways are still intact at the lower car park level. The lime kiln complex is Grade II-listed, and the long stretch of original stone wall which retains the lime kilns is a key feature of the Canal Basin landscape.

  • William Authers Footbridge

    William Authers Footbridge

    Horse drawn barge under William Authers Footbridge

    William Authers Foot Bridge was built as a pedestrian walkway to connect Spurway Road to the Wilcombe estate. Named after a late local councillor, William Authers, who was a key figure in saving the canal from being in-filled in the 1960s.

  • Tidcombe Bridge

    Tidcombe Bridge

     

    At Tidcombe Bridge, on the offside you will see Tidcombe Hall. This early 19th century house, was formally Tidcombe Rectory and built by a former rector, Rev. John Newte.

    Milestone 1
    Milestone 1 – This distance marker is part of the Canal’s heritage as it would have been installed when they built the canal.

    Beyond this on the towpath side, the canal enters mixed farmland and takes on a distinctly rural and more natural landscape, with pleasant views to surrounding hills.

  • Warnicombe Bridge / Snakes Wood

     

    Warnicombe Bridge / Snakes Wood

    HD Barge at Warnicombe (Mark Gliddon)

    Particular features in this section are the mature oak trees, and the short, wooded section (on both sides) of Snakes Wood itself. Most of this wood lies to the south of the canal, is privately owned and is a County Wildlife Site. It has a secretive and enclosed feel which contrasts with the more open landscape at either end.

     

  • Manley Bridge


    Manley Bridge

    As you approach Manley Bridge there is the Canberra Bomber Memorial Panel, this gives details of how dredging works in 2003 turned up the remains of a Canberra bomber that had crashed into the canal in 1961 on a training flight from Germany.

    Manley Car Park A small car park is situated next to Manley Bridge. This area is very popular with local residents as a circular walk, known as The Old Railway Walk, loops from the Canal Basin to Manley Bridge and joins the old railway track that the much loved ‘Tivvy Bumper’ (Great Western Railway engine No. 1442) once ran along. The line, opened in 1848, ran from Tiverton Junction on the main line through to Tiverton on the Exe Valley line. The coming of the railway however put the Canal out of business. The railway was then also made redundant during the Beeching cuts. The ‘Tivvy Bumper’ now rests at the Tiverton Museum in St. Andrew’s Street.

  • East Manley Bridge


    East Manley Bridge

    Boats at Orchard Farm Moorings, next to East Manley Bridge

    Things to look out for: Milestone 2, Barges moored at Mid Devon Moorings

    Mid Devon Moorings (formally Mid Devon Hire Boats & Moorings) have a number of beautiful moorings on the Grand Western Canal located near East Manley bridge and have been welcoming craft here since 2004. The moorings are ideally located in a quiet and tranquil part of the canal right next to a winding hole, where each afternoon in the summer months you can watch the Horse-drawn barge turn around for its return journey of 2 miles to Tiverton.

    Facilities at the moorings include:

    • Wooden linear landing & stage walkway
    • Maintenance landing with electrical point
    • Toilet pump-out & rubbish disposal
    • On site car park & lawn area
    • Water, Fuel, & Gas
    • They are also able to offer a winter lift out & maintenance service.

    They can offer short and long terms moorings, but are unable to offer residential moorings.

  • Aqueduct


    Aqueduct
    Aqueduct panel (John Morton)

    An impressive Aqueduct that was built by the Bristol & Exeter Railway Company in 1847. The aqueduct was built to allow the Tiverton branch line to continue however only one of the twin tunnels was ever used and the railway was closed for passengers service in 1964.

  • Crownhill Bridge & Picnic Site


    Crownhill Bridge & Picnic Site

    Crownhill Picnic Site

    Crownhill Bridge was originally named Backlane Bridge or ‘change path’. Its here that the horses drawing the barges were led over the Bridge to resume their journey along the towpath.

    Things to look out for: Crownhill Picnic Site

  • Tiverton Road Bridge

    Tiverton Road Bridge

    Tiverton Road Bridge Car Park

    The Country Park’s second busiest car park is located beside Tiverton Road Bridge and gives access to a mile and a half-long bend in the canal known as the Swan’s Neck.  A mobile cafe – The Coffee Cart – is based here for much of the time between April and October each year.

    For the next mile and a quarter, the canal sweeps out on a large loop which keeps the canal on a level contour above Halberton. When the Canal was constructed, rather than using locks, the canal engineer, John Rennie, felt it was more efficient commercially to construct embankments and cuttings to keep the canal on a level contour.

    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.

    The Swans Neck (Tiverton Road Bridge to Greenway Bridge)

    A circular route incorporating this section of towpath and some recently-created paths provide a very pleasant and largely off-road walk. (see Walking page for details). This section is surrounded by farmland and for a few hundred metres on the offside, the Tiverton Golf Club. The area offers some wonderful views across to the Blackdown Hills (an AONB) and the long ridges which characterise the East Devon landscape. There are also good views across to the village of Halberton, featuring St Andrews Church and Halberton Court Farm.

    Things to look out for: Milestones, Sellake Bridge,

  • Greenway Bridge & Picnic Site


    Greenway Bridge & Picnic Site

    Greenway Picnic Site

    After passing through a short, wooded cutting between Greenway Bridge and Swing Bridge, the canal crosses the highest embankment along its length, where fine views of the Blackdown Hills are afforded.

     

  • Swing Bridge

    Swing Bridge

    A major breach of this embankment took place in 2012, but following extensive repairs there is now virtually no evidence of the huge scar on the landscape which was created. Swing Embankment

    Things to look out for: Swing Bridge, Milestone 5

  • Rock Bridge


    Rock Bridge

    Just after 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.

    Things to look out for: Battens Bridge

  • Sampford Peverell


    The Canal continues to pass through mixed farmland with outstanding views to the east until it reaches the village of Sampford Peverell.

    Things to look out for: During late spring and summer this area is home to important populations of Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers who nest in the bankside vegetation.

     


    Sampford Peverell

    Sampford Peverell Picnic Site

    The canal passes through the centre of Sampford Peverell. The western end of the village is characterised by attractive older buildings and St John the Baptist church, whereas the canal at the eastern end is bounded by more modern housing on the offside.

    Things to look out for: St John the Baptist church, The Globe Inn, Landing stage for boats, Sampford Peverell Picnic Site, Sampford Peverell Play Area, and Buckland Bridge.

     


    From Buckland Bridge the Canal once again enters a more rural, farmed environment, punctuated briefly by the A361 North Devon Link Road which crosses the canal via the modern concrete Boehill Bridge.  Below this bridge is the Boehill Slipway, which was constructed in 2003 to enable trailed boats to visit the canal.

    Boehill Slipway in Sampford Peverell

    Soon after you will discover Minnows Touring Park located behind a hedge on the towpath side. Followed by Holbrooke Bridge, where the quiet rural feel is restored, with views across to the Blackdown Hills.

     

    Things to look out for: Boehill Slipway

  • Ayshford Chapel


    Ayshford Chapel

    Ayshford Chapel

    A highlight within this section is the 15th century Ayshford Chapel and 10th century (or earlier) Ayshford Court which are located beside the Canal on the offside. Ayshford Chapel is a former private chapel and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building. It is under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches.

  • Westcott Bridge to Ebear Bridge


    Westcott Bridge to Ebear Bridge

    Ebear Lay byWestcott Bridge is an ‘accommodation bridge’ built to link up farmer’s land that was split by the construction of the canal. This section is usually the best along the canal for spotting dragonflies and damselflies, and an information panel provides details of what you might see and where and when you may see them.  An adjacent layby provides easy access to this section which also contains a fishing platform designed for wheelchair/mobility buggy users and a split-level landing stage designed for use by narrowboats on the higher level and canoes and kayaks on the lower level.

  • Fossend Bridge


    Ebear Bridge to Fossend Bridge

    Near milestone 9, this section of the canal crosses the Spratford Stream which is carried under the Canal by the fine, Grade II-listed Twin Culverts.  A little further on on the offside is the tilting weir – a 3m by 1m gate that can be remotely operated, which enables the Canal Ranger Service to manage canal water levels.

    When it reaches the village of Burlescombe, the canal passes between a handful of properties dotting the canal banks. Black Bridge is an old mineral line bridge across which limestone was transported the the railway line further up in the village. There is space for several cars to park beside the old wharf and the small picnic area is popular with families feeding the ducks and swans.

    Things to look out for: Double culverts, Tilting Weir and Black Bridge

  • Fenacre Bridge to Waytown Tunnel

    Fenacre Bridge to Waytown Tunnel

    Here the canal extends through a deep, wooded cutting. With lots of mature trees and crystal-clear waters due to the natural springs which feed the canal, this quieter section of the Country Park has a distinctly different atmosphere.

    Waytown Limekilns

    Soon you will pass Whipcott Wharf, which is now used as a picnic site (accessed via steps), followed by Waytown Limekilns; this is a reminder of the canal’s industrial heritage, as a nearby information panel tells the story with an artist’s impression of what it might have been like in the Canals heyday when limestone was being burnt in the kilns.

    Immediately after the kilns, the towpath heads unexpectedly uphill, over Waytown Tunnel, crossing a minor road and re-joining the towpath on the other side.

  • Lowdwells Lock

    Lowdwells Lock

    Lowdwells Picnic Site A bund across the centre of the lock marks the end of the in-water section of the Grand Western Canal, and provides a tranquil spot for a picnic site.  From here the canal once continued down to Taunton, where it joined the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. This section was abandoned in the mid 1800s, but much of the towpath remains a public right of way, and some original canal features are still present.  An information panel here give more detail on this aspect of the canal’s history.   From the lock, the canal then originally crossed an aqueduct over the nearby road. The road marks the end of Devon County Council’s ownership of the Canal. From here on the canal fell back into the ownership of adjacent landowners once the canal became abandoned.

    There is also a small car park here at Lowdwells. Opposite there is a public footpath, from this point you can trace the former route of the canal for 5 ½ miles to the remains of Nynehead Lift near Wellington along a public footpath that follows the original towpath. There is a pleasant circular walk taking in several historic features of the canal, some lovely countryside with a pub halfway round – Lowdwells to Appley Circular Walk.