The locks were the last part of the 87 mile route of the Kennet and Avon Canal to be completed.- John Benson
Perhaps the longest continuous flight of locks in the UK, Caen Hill should be on the bucket list of every serious boater. First opened in 1810, they were designed and built by John Rennie, the engineer of the Kennet and Avon Canal that they form part of.
In total, there are 29 locks – adding up to a rise of 237 feet over two miles. Not only that, the gradient is a staggering 1:44! The most famous stretch is where 16 of the 29 locks are bunched together to take boats up the side of the hill between Reading and Bath. When first built, the locks had to be so close together that there would not be enough water to operate them. To solve this issue, engineer John Rennie built long ponds that run down the side of the towpaths, feeding into the locks when needed.
To accurately sum up how impressive an engineering feat Rennie managed with the locks, you really have to see them in person. With towpath and hill walks all around, the Caen Hill Locks have plenty to offer for boaters and walkers alike.
Image credit: Paul Chambers / Alamy