Cotswolds

Stroudwater Canal

The thriving woollen industry and Stroudwater Canal shaped the Stroud Valleys for nearly 200 years and it is hoped its restoration will do so once again. Stroud produced some of the best cloth in Europe, with the wool coming from the sheep who were farmed on the Cotswold Hills.

It was thanks to the construction of the canals in the 1700s, that the local woollen industry really began to thrive. Whilst there were once over 100 cloth mills in the area, just two working mills remain today. They still export cloth all over the world, including that used for making Wimbledon tennis balls.

Once bustling with industry, the canal is now a peaceful, linear nature reserve. You can walk along the towpath between Eastington and Sapperton – a distance of 12 miles. Keep your eye out for ducks, swans, moorhen and the occasional blue flash of a kingfisher. Depending on the time of day, you might also glimpse deer. You will still see evidence of the industrial heritage by way of restored locks and grand mill buildings, built out of honeyed Cotswold stone. 

The Cotswold Canals Visitor Centre is located at Wallbridge in Stroud. When the flag is flying, you can pop in and discover more about the restoration project and pick up leaflets for walking routes. The incredibly passionate volunteers will be only too happy to share their knowledge.

You may also wish to try the Cloth, Coal and Canals walk, which can be downloaded from the Royal Geographical Society.

As well as enjoying the canal from the towpath, take the opportunity to enjoy a canal boat trip from Ebley Wharf every Saturday throughout the summer, run by the Cotswold Canals Trust

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Cotswolds here.

Images copyright Sara Chardin

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