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Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail

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Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 17 Nov 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail Walking Guidestar1 Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail Walking Guidestar1 Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail Walking Guidestar1 Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail Walking Guidestar1 Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail Walking Guide
Gloucestershire, Stroud
Walk Type: River or lakeside
Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Stroud to Stonehouse Canal Trail Walking Guide
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A 3.5 mile linear walk from Stroud rail station to Stonehouse rail station, a waterside journey along the restored Stroudwater Navigation. The beautiful canal towpath takes you through areas of parkland, riverside, housing and small industry. Discover the history of the canal, with its impressive old mills which today have been converted to act as offices and modern manufacturers.

The walk follows tarmac pavements and stone towpaths throughout. There are no stiles or gates on route and you will not come across any livestock. You will be sharing the towpaths with some cyclists, so take care with children and dogs. The only obstacle to negotiate is one flight of steps (about 6 steps) set within the towpath – this does have a concrete slope alongside which cyclists use, but it is quite steep. Allow 2 hours.

The walk starts at Stroud rail station and ends at Stonehouse rail station. The return leg can be completed by a single 5 minute train journey, but trains are quite infrequent (every 2 hours on the day we travelled) so check before you set out. If you are coming by car, Stroud rail station has its own large car park. Approximate post code GL5 3AP.

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Walk Sections

Start to Brewery Bridge
Start to Brewery Bridge

Start point: 51.7443 lat, -2.2192 long
End point: 51.7445 lat, -2.2221 long

Leave Stroud Station via the exit on Platform 2 and you will emerge into the station car park. Walk directly ahead towards the large, ornate, square red-brick office building and then turn right along the station access road, Cheapside. At the mini-roundabout turn left onto the road marked as a no through road, Wallbridge.

A short way along you will come to the Cotswold Canals Trust visitor centre and a canal lock, Wallbridge Lock, on your left. Here you can take some time to understand the history and restoration story of the Stroudwater Navigation before you begin your waterside journey. The canal opened in 1779 and runs for a length of nearly 8 miles to connect Stroud to the River Severn. It allowed coal to be brought from Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Forest of Dean to power the textile mills of the Stroud valleys.

When you have finished at the centre, rejoin the pavement of Wallbridge and follow this to cross the canal. Immediately after, swap to the right-hand pavement and then turn right down the slope to reach the Wallbridge information board with the canal directly ahead. Turn left along the towpath (with the canal running on your right) and follow this as it leads you under Brewery Bridge.

Brewery Bridge to Lodgemore Mills
Brewery Bridge to Lodgemore Mills

Start point: 51.7445 lat, -2.2221 long
End point: 51.7439 lat, -2.228 long

Beyond Brewery Bridge, your route simply continues ahead on the towpath with the canal still running on your right.

(NOTE AUTUMN 2016: This stretch of towpath was closed for restoration in 2016. If this is the case when you walk, turn left to reach the pavement and turn right along this. When the stone wall on your right ends, turn right into the small industrial area. Follow the access lane, passing to the left of these buildings, and it will merge back onto the canal towpath.)

Pass through an old stone gateway and the towpath passes a long brick mill building on your left with an old gas pipe running alongside. As you draw level with a swing canal bridge, you will see the entrance for the mill buildings, Lodgemore Mills, on your left.

Lodgemore Mills is one of only two still operating as a woollen mill in Gloucestershire. It has a continuous history of making woollen cloth dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, it specialises in the manufacture of high performance woollen cloth for billiard sports (the green cloth for snooker tables and coloured cloths for pool tables) and the yellow cloth used as tennis ball coverings.

Lodgemore Mills to Dudbridge Locks
Lodgemore Mills to Dudbridge Locks

Start point: 51.7439 lat, -2.228 long
End point: 51.7426 lat, -2.2371 long

Continue your journey along the towpath, with the canal still running on your right. Stay with the towpath, soon passing another large canal swing bridge and then passing a light industrial area on your left (once a gas works). Just beyond this, you will follow a stretch of the canal with a beautiful line of weeping willow trees on the far bank, and sports fields visible beyond these.

At the end of this stretch you will reach a pair of locks within the canal, Dudbridge Locks. You will notice a modern concrete channel and structure sitting behind the old locks. A turbine has been installed here to generate hydroelectricity for the grid. To generate electricity, the scheme uses the heightened water flow here, driven by Painswick Stream and Slad Brook that feed the canal near Stroud. A 19th century mansion called The Lawn with its own estate, lake and pleasure grounds was once on the other side of the canal at this point. The buildings disappeared but the grounds have been restored for public use.

Dudbridge Locks to Ebley Mill
Dudbridge Locks to Ebley Mill

Start point: 51.7426 lat, -2.2371 long
End point: 51.7401 lat, -2.2483 long

Continue alongside the canal, passing under a road bridge and you will pass the site of Dudbridge Wharf on your left, which is still home to an 1854 crane that was used for loading and unloading goods. It could lift the weight equivalent to an average African elephant.

Stay with the towpath which leads you under a metal footbridge and past a large playing field on your left. There are picnic benches here should you wish to pause for refreshments. Soon the elegant chimney and stone buildings of Ebley Mill come into view ahead. More of that in a moment…

The towpath leads you over a walkway across a spillway between the canal on your right and the River Frome on your left. The canal and river run very close together at this point and the spillway allows the canal to overflow into the river at times of high water. A fish pass is included in the structure to allow fish and eels to move seamlessly between the two waterways. Continue ahead crossing a wooden walkway with the canal and river still close each side.

You will soon be walking immediately alongside the walls of Ebley Mill on your left. As you draw level with a canal swing bridge, glance left into the mill entrance. Ebley Mill was built from 1818-1861, becoming the largest mill in the Stroud Valley. The imposing stone buildings earned it the nickname the Cathedral of the Cotswolds. In its heyday in the 1860s it employed more than 800 people. In the 1980s, Stroud District Council purchased the derelict mill and converted it into the council’s administrative centre. The mosaic on the stone plinth here was designed by local school children, depicting the mill’s history as a woollen mill.

Ebley Mill to Ryeford Double Lock
Ebley Mill to Ryeford Double Lock

Start point: 51.7401 lat, -2.2483 long
End point: 51.7399 lat, -2.2628 long

Continue your journey along the towpath, passing under a red brick bridge known as Cloth Mills Bridge. This next stretch leads you between beautiful waterfront cottages creating an idyllic setting. Just before the next bridge, you will see a circular spill weir (or overflow weir) on the left. Commonplace on canals, weirs like this one control the water levels by taking away overflow.

Pass under the bridge and pause just afterwards. This was originally called Oil Mills Bridge but is now referred to as Snow Mills Bridge. Look on your left and you will see a sculptural post with the four faces each depicting a different image. This images tell the history of the nearby mill, just set back from the canal (down the alleyway to your left). Built in 1721, it has been used to produce rape and linseed oil, cloth, animal feeds and is now home to Snow Business, the world leader in the manufacture of artificial snow.

Stay with the towpath ahead, leading you along another greener section of the canal. On the right-hand bank you will see a variety of garden waterfront designs, with residents having built everything from boats to jetties and summerhouses to pirate ships.

You will reach the next lock on the canal, Ryeford Double Lock. As the information board here explains, this double lock was completely derelict until its restoration which began in 2010. The lock keeper’s cottage still stands, just beyond the lock on your left.

Ryeford Double Lock to Stonehouse Bridge
Ryeford Double Lock to Stonehouse Bridge

Start point: 51.7399 lat, -2.2628 long
End point: 51.7419 lat, -2.2839 long

Continue on your canalside journey, soon following another narrow stretch with the canal on your right and the River Frome close on your left. This section is known as Ford’s Wharf, after the name of the owners of Ryeford Mill. Coal was unloaded here to power the mills for the production of flour, which was sent to Bristol for distribution. Wheat for making the flour came from Newport and Lechlade.

You will pass a small pedestrian swing bridge (which leads to Ryeford Cottage) and soon afterwards you will reach a beautiful brick-arched canal road bridge (Ryeford Bridge). Pass under Ryeford Bridge (or if you wish to avoid this short narrow waterside stretch, you can use the tarmac slopes to cross the road and then rejoin the towpath). Keep ahead, passing Marlings Coal Pen on your left.

Immediately after this coal pen, keep right at the fork, staying immediately alongside the canal. The towpath leads you under a large modern road bridge (which carries the Stroud Bypass) and then an old railway bridge in quick succession. Just before you reach the next road bridge ahead, you will notice an old derelict iron structure on the opposite bank. This was once the boat house for nearby Wycliffe College.

Keep ahead passing alongside the modern road bridge (which marks the vehicle entrance for an industrial estate – including a warehouse belonging to the Snow Business). Stay on the towpath passing under Stonehouse Bridge and, immediately afterwards, leave the canal by turning left up the slope. At the top, turn left again to follow the pavement across Stonehouse Bridge.

Stonehouse Bridge to End
Stonehouse Bridge to End

Start point: 51.7419 lat, -2.2839 long
End point: 51.746 lat, -2.2794 long

On the bridge, look across to your left and you will see a beautiful brick building and brick arched bridge across the canal. This is Nutshell Bridge and House and dates from around 1778.

Continue ahead on the pavement. At the traffic lights, use the pedestrian crossings to go straight ahead into Regent Street. Continue to the T-junction at the top of the road. Turn left onto the High Street and then turn immediately right into Queens Road (passing the Town Hall on your right).

Just before you reach the railway bridge overhead, ignore the sign for the rail platform to your right (these lead to the platform for trains towards Gloucester). Instead, pass under the railway bridge and follow the pavement as it swings right. You will come to the entrance for Platform 1 at Stonehouse Station on your right, where this walk ends and from where you can catch a train back to Stroud.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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