Towpath walks to pubs

Take a winter stroll along the canal

With spring still a couple of months away, it's too cold for all but the most seasoned walkers to venture out on a serious upland hike.

Why not try a gentle stroll on these easier, scenic routes along our historic waterways instead?

We've chosen ones with a pub along the way – so you can stop for lunch and enjoy a well-earned pint or two.


Savernake's royal forest

 Near Marlborough, Wiltshire

This tranquil walk takes you goes through ancient forest landscape – Savernake Forest was a royal hunting ground long before the Norman Conquest – and along a section of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

The Royal Oak in nearby Wootton Rivers, a 16th-century timbered and thatched inn, offers a good range of starters, mains and fish dishes.

Winchelsea – stranded by the sea

Winchelsea, East Sussex

Looking at the sleepy town today, it's hard to believe that Winchelsea was once one of the most important ports on the south coast. The Saxon Shore Way now follows the towpath of the Royal Military Canal – constructed in 1804–9 in anticipation of an invasion by Napoleon.

Regents Canal

Regent's Park

Central London

This route goes through Regent's Park to the viewpoint of Primrose Hill, and along Regent's Canal, opened in 1816–20, to Little Venice – expect barges rather than gondolas.

There are two fine eateries on the east side of Primrose Hill, The Lansdowne and The Engineer.

Three Mills and the canals

East London

In the mid-19th century the River Lea was lined with flourishing, if polluting, industries. The Hertford Union and the Limehouse Cut canals linked the river to the Regent's Canal. Nowadays, this towpath walk is a peaceful haven for walkers and wildlife.

You'll find cask-conditioned ales in the atmospheric bar of The Grapes, just off the route in Limehouse, while the tiny upstairs restaurant serves only the freshest fish.


Henley and the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal

Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire

Henley has a superb collection of 15th-, 16th- and 17th-century timber-framed houses. This gentle walk goes from the picturesque village, over the earthworks of Beaudesert Castle, and returns via the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and the River Alne.

The canal passes through Preston Baget, where the 15th-century Crabmill offers a stylish menu.

The Antonine Wall and the Forth and Clyde Canal

Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire

Before the Forth and Clyde Canal was built, merchants had to sail nearly 310 miles round the coast of Scotland to get from west to east. When the canal was completed in 1790, the journey was reduced to
35 miles.

The canal follows the Roman Antonine Wall, which, like the more famous Hadrian's Wall further south, was constructed in AD 142 to keep northern tribes out of Roman territory. The Romans finally gave up and left Scotland in about AD 180.

Refreshments can be found at the family-run Castlecary House Hotel, or a few miles further east at the impressive Falkirk Wheel.

More pubs and walks

(24 October 2013)