The Melksham, Calne and Chippenham Branch
of the
 Wilts & Berks Canal Trust


Press Releases  Back
April 2013


FUNDRAISERS are inviting people to join them for a special event which marks a decade of donations to a local campaign.

This year is the tenth anniversary of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust’s annual sponsored walk along the former stretch between Chippenham and Melksham.

People of all ages take part in the popular event, which passes through four miles of countryside to The Bell Inn at Lacock, formerly a canalside pub.

In the early days most of the waterway was hidden beneath undergrowth but since then the charity has completely transformed the whole area.

Volunteers have dredged and rewatered the canal, raised and widened the towpath, and rebuilt a bridge, wharf, spillweir and culvert.

The sponsored walk is due to take place on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6.

Event organiser Peter Williams is a member of the Melksham, Chippenham & Calne branch of the charity, and has been involved from the beginning.

He said: “A stretch of the original towpath was used for the new cycle route to Lacock and it was the first time in a century that people could easily follow this part of the canal.

“But it was quite an isolated spot so I wanted to encourage more people to discover this wonderful asset.

“Just a few dozen supporters took part in the first event in 2004 but the numbers have steadily grown - sometimes, depending on the weather, we’ve had almost 200 coming along.

“People don’t have to be sponsored, they can simply just pay the entry fee and enjoy the walk, but we also invite local youth groups to ‘walk a boat and back’ where they work as a team to carry canoes, dinghies and other craft. It all adds to the sense of fun.”

Peter added: “People can see the progress being made from one year to the next, and they’re amazed by the changes.

“In the beginning we walked alongside an empty canalbed but the charity has restored hundreds of metres of waterway and turned it into a haven for all sorts of wildlife, including swans and kingfishers.

“We’ve raised £8,500 since we started but I’d really like us to go beyond £10,000 in our tenth year. “All of the money supports our volunteers who are working hard to breathe new life into this important piece of local history.”

The sponsored walk starts at The Buttercross in Chippenham town centre on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6, at 10.30am.

The route passes under Avenue La Fleche and alongside the Pewsham bypass before heading into the countryside to connect with the towpath at Pewsham Locks.

The walk then follows the restored canal towards Reybridge where people join the lane towards Lacock.

Entry is £4 per individual, family or youth group.


For more information about the local Branch of the Trust you can visit their Web site

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