Wilts & Berks Canal Towpath Project

Towpath Project Logo

Restoring the historic path for the community and nature.

Creating a long distance path from Bath to Oxford.


Before the introduction of motorised canal barges, the canal towpath was a vital part of the canal infrastructure. It derives its name from the path that ran along side the canal allowing a horse to tow the unpowered barges.

Today it is as vital, because of all the canal users who are not on boats, such as walkers, cyclists and fishermen.

Horse Drawn

Our canals and especially the towpaths, provide a great ‘outdoor gym’ with opportunities for walking, running, cycling and in some wider places, horse riding.

Towpaths provide safe routes for family cyclists, as well as excellent long distance footpaths. The trust is working with Sustrans, who are members of the Partnership, to develop the canal towpath as a cycleway, where possible.

The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, in partnership with the Wiltshire Swindon & Oxfordshire Canal Partnership aim to restore the historic Wilts & Berks Canal.

A restored canal provides so many benefits to the community and is a great asset for rural areas, tourism, recreation and wildlife.


  • Massive leisure and recreational benefits
  • Healthy, traffic free, outdoor environment for exercise
  • Important part of our nations historic and cultural heritage
  • Green corridor and haven for wildlife
  • A trail full of natural flora and wild flowers
  • Long distance path and cycle way
  • Flood prevention

Canals are crucial in providing green corridors linking isolated pieces of habitat as well as connecting communities.

The Partnership has laid down the challenge of restoring the Towpath along the entire route of the canal within 5 years. The Canal Trust has risen to the challenge and has started the Wilts & Berks Canal Towpath Project.

As the longer-term programme of restoring the whole canal to water is such a large undertaking, focusing on a 5-year project will deliver, in addition to a new national long distance path, other important benefits.

walkers dog

  • Raise public awareness of the Wilts & Berks Canal.
  • Draw attention to important restoration projects underway along the line.
  • Increase funding & grant opportunities.
  • Demonstrate to backers and the public that the canal can be restored.
  • Pave the way the way for the restoration of the canal, locks and bridges.

 Our canals and towpaths are a great national asset, but if we lose them, we will lose them for good.

The Towpath Project’s objective is to acquire the land along the Wilts & Berks Canal corridor and to establish a path along the canal track. The cost of acquisition clearly needs to be as low as possible and needs to be sustainable for the Charity and leases need to be long term.

Towpath MapThe complete towpath of 106km will mean acquiring the leases and permissions. In addition this will need to be turned into useable towpath or permissive path.

Click here to see larger map of Wilts & Berks Canal Towpath Project