Sapperton Canal Tunnel and the source of the River Thames

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Lowland and Hill Walks
Apr 21

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9 miles with 750' of height gain, no steep hills

This walk deep in rural Cotswold countryside takes you past two very interesting places. The Sapperton canal tunnel was opened on 20 April 1789 after five years of construction. It has no towpath; boats were propelled through the tunnel by legging. Sapperton Tunnel was passable until at least 1966 but is now blocked by roof collapses over several hundred yards, mainly in sections where the ground is fuller's earth. Restoration is proposed by the Cotswold Canals Trust as part of their project to re-open the canal route from Thames to Severn.
Talking of the River Thames we will also visit one of the places which claims to be the source of it (there is a long running argument about where the river actually rises)
Our starting point has a rather splendid grade 1 listed church which will be worth a peek. The unusual light and airy interior being a wonderful example of early Georgian design with vast windows overlooking the churchyard. St Kenelm’s is renowned for its collection of ornate memorials dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 
The walking route has some varied terrain and scenic valleys, wooded sections and open views and we'll pass both ends of the tunnel. There's a great pub to explore which was built in the 1780s alongside the canal, the pub has "seen and refreshed navvies, leggers, canal folk, agricultural students, racehorse owners, gentry, crooks, polo players, chancers, generations of locals and seen its fair share of Cotswold life".


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