Information Walks
Wantage & Grove - Explore the Wantage Arm & the Canal at East Challow
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Walk along the former Wantage Arm of the historic Wilts & Berks Canal and the restored waters of the main line from East Challow past Grove Start at

(1) Church of St. Peter & St. Paul opposite the Vale & Downland Museum behind Wantage market place. From the churchyard, follow the footpath downhill past a brick garden wall to the right of No. 2 Priory Rd. Turn right after the footbridge to follow Letcombe Brook between tall mill buildings and carefully cross Mill Street to (2) the site of the Wharf at the end of the infilled Wantage Arm of the Wilts & Berks Canal.

From (2) there are two footpaths. Avoid the new path alongside Letcombe Brook itself, but follow the old path (marked by a 'Cyclists Forbidden' notice) between Mill Cottage and the new wharfside housing development.

 

A few yards along this old path fork right to find the historic route (3,4 & 5), which zig-zags through the housing estate approximately following the former towpath of the infilled Wantage Arm.

At (3) children's play area, fork right past the just visible remains of a bridge abutment and carefully crossing residential roads, follow the former towpath to (4) a five-way junction and go straight ahead along the gravel footpath (5) to the junction with the main line of the Canal practically buried below this section of Mably Way. Canal historic main line went both right and left from (5) following the Vale of White Horse. To the right/east past Grove, under the Great Western Railway past Drayton village and into the Thames near Abingdon and to the left/west past East Challow, Uffington and Shrivenham to Swindon.

The Trust is actively restoring this main line to give a continuous green corridor through the length of the Vale, accessible to residents and visitors alike. Walkers, joggers, cyclists already enjoy restored sections and - eventually - the canal will provide navigation for paddlers and boaters.WantageMap3

From (5) either choose to go left along the road footpath, fbllow the roundabout left, and then soon very carefidly cross the main road to a stile and follow a waymarked footpath across the field. This much-used route uses the towpath and leads past about 800 yards of restored canal to (6) the site of a humpbacked bridge (now flattened) in East Challow. Return to (1) by a footpath behind the Village Hall in Canal Way, up across the field, carefully cross Challow Road, go past King Alfred's Community and Sports College and into (7) a footpath leading down past Naldertown to Betjeman Park (approx. 80 mins.).
Alternatively (approx 120 mins) choose from (5) to cross Mably Way into a short footpath connecting to the restored canal past the reclaimed Grove Top Lock (see cover).

At (8) there was an aqueduct over Letcombe Brook and the footpath then leads up between house gardens to A338 Grove Road. Cross and turn left. Follow the footpath of Station Road for about 600 yards passing in front of Ormond Terrace. The original route of canal and towpath (and official right of way) is within their rear gardens but the restoration study suggested a local diversion to avoid interference. At the end of Ormond Terrace regain the canal towpath at the restored footbridge over the tail of (9) Grove Common Lock. Turn left past (10) site of Grove Wharf and derelict Smallmarsh Lock through the gate into (11) Crabhill Lane.

To return to (1), turn right and climb Crabhill Lane to Charlton Village and (12) Charlton Church. Turn right along Charlton Village Road and in 1/4 mile turn left into Tirrold Way, cross Humber Ditch and up into and to the end of Foliat Drive. Turn right at Garston Lane to Seesen Way and use the pelican crossing into Grove Street and back to the Market Place and (1) Church of St. Peter & St. Paul.

A shorter 60 min walk returns from (5) to (1) by turning right at (8) to follow Letcombe Brook, up to a controlled crossing of Mably Way through housing to (4,3, 2 & 1)