The canal used to wind its way from Saul Junction to the 2.1 mile long canal tunnel at Sapperton. The canal is called the Stroudwater Navigation and was built in 1776 although parts of it dates back to 1730. I believe it’s called a navigation as it has a very slight flow.
There’s a long running project to restore the canal but it’s a slow process due to funding and many sections of it having been blocked off to allow roads to cut across it.
The most notable blockages being the stretch between Eastington near the A38 and Saul Junction. The canal also has roads cutting it off at Brimscombe and Chalford.
The canal is at its most navigable between Stonehouse and almost to Brimscombe.
As it winds its way from Chalford to Sapperton it gets progressively more wild and overgrown. There’s probably more trees in the canal than water in this section!
Due to this there are two types of canal path walk, nice and pretty or wild and overgrown.
Click the ‘Walks’ menu for the different canal path walks. They’re also listed below.
There was once a large body of water at Brimscombe known as Brimscombe Port. This was a trading port for the canal and home to some boat building companies.
The canal heading east towards Chalford became narrower here so the larger and wider boats (trows) had to offload their cargo to smaller narrow boats that carried on up the valley through Chalford and on to Sapperton tunnel and beyond.
Unfortunately Brimscombe port is now a huge flat area of concrete as it had become an industrial estate that’s subsequently been demolished. There are plans to redevelop the site with housing and reinstate the canal basin but it needs a developer so it may take some time.
You can walk the entire length of the route from Eastington but it’s also easy to split the walk up into smaller sections that each take about an hour as a round trip which is what I have done here. I lived in Chalford during the 70s so have added other local info from those days to the walks.
The canal is being restored by the local canal restoration trust.
Recent work was to reroute the canal under the viaduct at Capel’s Mill in Stroud where it had been infilled when they built the Stroud bypass (Dr Newtons Way). The canal previously passed under the iron arch that’s part of the railway viaduct.
Extensive work is being done to restore the canal between Eastington and Saul Junction (the A38 and M5 cross its path) and a new railway bridge has been installed near the Stonehouse Court Hotel as the canal passed through a small culvert in the railway embankment. The canal at this point is called ‘The Ocean’.
Along with the big projects there’s usually some weed clearing and dredging taking place somewhere along its route.
Below is a video showing the railway viaduct at Capel’s Mill near Waitrose in Stroud.
If you’re interested in the history of the canal there are lots of local books such as the one below (which may be out of print now, but is available second hand) detailing its construction and use.
Slaughter in the Sapperton Tunnel – The bestselling Victorian mystery series (Railway Detective): 18
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