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Seasonal area

June 2013

Current Seasonal Area is here

There was a young man from Devizes
Whose ears were of different sizes
One was so small
It was no ear at all
But the other was huge and won prizes.

One feels that Devizes should be notable for more than a limerick suitable for re-writing to any one-syllable body part that a young man can be expected to have two of (ears, feet, arms, etc.). Fortunately it is - it is also an idyllic English market town.

Devizes is located in central Wiltshire on the Kennet and Avon Canal, seen here as it ambles through the town's northern suburbs. The outskirts of the town are green and pleasant, while the centre is handsomely laid out with a spacious market place, narrow side streets, a covered market selling not very much on a Saturday afternoon, several hotels, a couple of churches and a castle. The castle is logically sat on the rock that rises to the south-west of the town centre. Beneath it is the rather tattered remnants of the town's railway. The town has no bypass. This does not seem to cause much in the way of traffic problems.

The main attraction is the canal, one of several well-engineered trunk canals which were constructed around the country at the beginning of the 19th century. This one linked London with Bristol - shippers travelled up the Thames from London to Reading where they diverged from the Old Father and headed up the Kennet Valley, with the River Kennet being extensively remodelled for partial use as a canal and new cuts made to form up the rest. The summit at Crofton features by a short tunnel, named Bruce after the landowner who insisted on it, before the canal begins the long descent past Devizes, Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon to join the Avon (a British word meaning "river") at Bath. (It actually enters the Avon Valley, such as it is in the plains of central Wiltshire, around Trowbridge. However, the River River wasn't reckoned to be fully navigable until Bath.)

Devizes marks the western end of the "Long Pound" - a stretch of about 15 miles with no locks at all, providing an almost dead level waterway along the hillside past the small town of Pewsey and two (lesser-known) White Horses. The eastern end is denoted by four rural locks in relatively close succession lifting the canal up to Bruce Tunnel. At Devizes the canal swings around the town centre, descends through six fairly adjacent locks and then falls down the side of Caen Hill - sixteen locks, one after the other, providing a straight flight of a most impressive nature. Seven more locks bring the canal down onto the plain, but there are still another 21 to be negotiated before the waterway finally joins the river.

June provides a good warm green time of year for meandering beside a canal, although it would be much more pleasant if someone hadn't converted the soft green towpath which links Pewsey with Devizes into a hard grey one for the leg between Devizes and Trowbridge.

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Last modified 02/06/2013

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