Stephen's Stroll: Hawkesbury Junction into Coventry

The weather is pleasant, the canals are nearby, and I have a brand new pedometer to try!

I’m waiting for the bus to take me to Hawkesbury Junction, where the Oxford and Coventry canals meet. I will then head towards Coventry Basin, hopefully getting all the way, depending on what the weather is like.

Now on the bus! After I get off, should take me about 10 mins to get there.

Along the canal, I’ll try and photograph as much of the Coventry Canal Art Trail as possible. If you’re interested in learning more about the art, there is this website:

If anyone wants to post any questions or comments, please do so. If anything, it will help me know that I’m not the only one mad enough to be awake at this time on a Sunday morning! I will try and respond as I go.

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Wandering towards Hawkesbury

Hawkesbury Junction, also known as Sutton Stop.

This is the engine house (built in 1821), which contained the pump for the canal. Prior to being moved here, it had been pumping water from Griff Colliery for 100 years. It was replaced in 1837 by an engine named the Lady Godiva, and pumped water from the nearby mines into the canal, until it was decommissioned in 1913. In 1963 it was moved to Dartmouth Museum where it resides to this day.

The lock that connects Oxford Canal to Coventry Canal is only about a 6 inch drop.

This way to the Grand Union Canal

Other views

For more information about this place, see Hawkesbury Junction - Wikipedia


Hit a massive snag. Upload time seems to be about 5 mins per photo. Been here nearly an hour… it will take me until next year at this rate!

So will take snaps, write entries, but upload when home.

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Here’s the first of the art trail… Wings Over Water.

…with someone’s little addition

If anyone is interested, I saw this scupture’s older sibling on this trip (post 4):


Need somewhere to sit? This seems like a good plaice.


FINALLY leaving Hawkesbury.

Bridge 11… Still a fair way to go to Bridge 1 and Coventry Canal Basin

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This may look like the countryside, and it is peaceful, but just around the bend is the M6, between junctions 2 and 3.

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The towpath is in very good condition.

Last year, during lockdown, the trust completely repaved it and then this summer added shingle. Should mean that I can now walk it of an evening during winter without fear of tripping on unseen potholes!

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Canal Bridge 10a, or the M6 Bridge. Surprisingly peaceful underneath, with traffic being no more than white noise

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There was a time when canals got a lot of stick for how filthy they were, with a common joke being how you can catch shopping trollies o furniture, not fish.

Nowadays it is a lot better, thanks to the efforts of the Canal and River Trust, plus the efforts of volunteers up and down the country.

Fish have returned to our canals, as too have the fishing folk!

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A bit more art up near Bridge 10, by The Longford Engine, where Longford Road passes over the canal. The wildlife needs trimming back a bit…

…definitely here too…

…when you consider this is what it’s supposed to look like!


(Source The Art Trail | Coventry Canal Society )

Overgrown nature aside, it is most pleasant walking towards Bridge 10!

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I really like the engine house picture

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There are apparently 10 of these sculptures, either on or close to the canal bridges. Each one resembles the canal from the basin to Bridge 10, showing each of the bridges.

Adjacent to each is a short quote to show what life was like in the days when the canals were used to transport goods.

Let’s see if I can find each one.

Finally, before I move on, a quick info plaque about this part of the canal; hope it is legible!

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I am now on the part of the canal that meanders past the Arena football stadium. But before I get there, I feel I should make a comment about fly tipping, the act of dumping rubbish by the road.

This isn’t one. This realistic sofa, along with the rope-tied raft it sits on is made entirely of concrete and is another part of the art trail.

Just past bridge 9a, and you can just see the top of the Arena stadium (white struts in second pic, just above roofline). Now the Coventry Building Society Arena, it was originally the Ricoh Arena when first built as they were the sponsors.

All sponsorship signs had to be removed in 2012 when it was used as one of the many Olympic stadiums to host part of the Olympic games, in this instance some of the Women’s Football matches

Bridge 9, which takes you from the canal to the Arena.

I wonder if there’s another of the bridge art works here?

… nope. There is on at the next bridge though, I know where that is.

I’ll tell you what I did find though… a low tech solution for draining that is still in use today.

Can you see the grooves in the side of the canal, on both sides?

If you need to empty the canal for repair work, it wastes a lot of water if you need to use lock gates as barriers, as there can be many miles between locks. The closest one to Coventry, as the one at Hawkesbury wouldn’t work, is in Atherstone. So a stretch of 30 miles or so would need to be drained.

So instead they drop thick planks of wood down the slots. They swell in the water to provide a seal, allowing the water to be drained in a short section; it’s about a kilometer between bridges 9 and 8. A sluice gate can then be opened to drain the water into a culvert or stream. Here’s the one between 9 and 8, which also serves as an overflow in case of excess water from rain.

In case anyone is interested, Coventry Canal is only about 3 feet deep.

Bridge 8…

…and the groove for bridge 8. Can’t see the one on the other side though; maybe it was removed when this bridge was rebuilt?

Here’s the Bridge Art though!

This is a new estate that was finished a few years ago. The architects did a really good job of making them fit the canal environment!