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A horse drawn barge coming through Warnicombe Bridge in Tiverton Devon on the Grand Western Canal

IWA members are invited to a weekend away organised by IWA Chiltern Branch.

Weekend activities will include a visit to the Grand Western Canal, West Somerset Railway, the River Parrett and the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.

See the full itinerary.

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Branch
IWA Chiltern Branch
Event Dates

17th - 19th September 2021

Location

Somerset

IWA

Weekend Away to Somerset

IWA members are invited to a weekend away organised by IWA Chiltern Branch.

Weekend activities will include a visit to the Grand Western Canal, West Somerset Railway, the River Parrett and the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal.

See the full itinerary.

Details

Coach Pickup Points

The coach pick-up points are currently The Handy Cross Park and Ride, High Wycombe, the Gore Hill bus stop Amersham, The Broadway Chesham and Watford Junction Railway Station.

Cost

£325

Based on two people sharing a double or twin bedded room. The single supplement is £55. To book, we are asking for a deposit of £75.

Cost includes

  • All coach travel
  • Two nights accommodation on a half board basis (bed, breakfast and a two course dinner) at the four star Castle Hotel in Taunton.
  • A two and a half hour cruise aboard the horse drawn trip boat ‘Tivertonian & snack picnic lunch on board.
  • A return excursion ticket from Bishops Lydiard to Minehead aboard the West Somerset Railway.
  • Lunch at the ‘Admiral’s Landing’ on the Bridgwater Docks waterfront.
  • Donation to an appropriate waterway cause in the west country.

Accommodation

Castle Hotel in Taunton

Half board (bed, breakfast and a two course dinner) at the four star hotel.

View event location

Location

Somerset

Grand Western Canal, United Kingdom

Accommodation

Castle Hotel in Taunton

Half board (bed, breakfast and a two course dinner) at the four star hotel.

Find directions to the Event

Full itinerary

Friday 17th September – visit to the Grand Western

07:15   Depart from Watford Junction Railway Station

08:00   Depart from the outside the Café Nero 69,Broadway, Chesham

08:15   Depart from Amersham, Gore Hill bus stop

08:45   Depart from High Wycombe, Handy Cross Park and Ride. We break the

journey en-route for 45 minutes to stretch our legs and enjoy a coffee break.

14:00   Arrive in Tiverton and board the trip boat ‘Tivertonian’ for a two and a half hour

horse drawn cruise along the Grand Western Canal. A snack picnic lunch will be

provided during the cruise.

The Grand Western Canal was built to connect the Bristol and English Channels but

only reached as far as Taunton by 1838. Although trade continued along the isolated

summit section, the coming of the railway in 1844 put paid to any financial return.

The Canal is now part of a picturesque Country Park administered by the Devon

County Council.

The ‘Tivertonian’ is one of the last horse drawn barges in Britain. It seats 75 and is

equipped with a licensed bar. Tea, coffee, snacks and ice cream are also available.

16:45   Rejoin our coach and travel to Taunton where we are accommodated in the Castle

Hotel. On the way, and if time permits, we will stop to view the remains of an

innovative vertical canal lift. Designed by James Green, it was one of the first to

operate anywhere in the world.

19:15   Meet in the bar for pre-dinner drinks.

20:00   Dinner

Saturday 18th September – Steam Trains & the Seaside

09:00   Depart the Hotel for Bishops Liddiard and the West Somerset Railway.

10:00   Depart Bishops Liddiard for Minehead aboard a steam train to the seaside.

Having arrived in Minehead, participants are free to explore the town and

maybe enjoy some fish and chips. For railway buffs, a guided tour of the

locomotive and carriage works in Minehead has been requested. The railway to Minehead was promoted by local business and land owning  interests in 1856. Its route was engineered by James Burke, an assistant to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and was originally built to the 7’ broad gauge. Reaching Minehead in 1874, it was converted to the national 4’ -81/2” gauge in 1882 and was absorbed into the Great Western Railway in 1890.

15:00  Return to the railway station and board the 15:15 train back to Bishops Liddiard

arriving there at 16:30.

16:40   Rejoin coach for the drive back to the Hotel.

19:15   Meet in the bar for pre-dinner drinks.

20:00   Dinner

Sunday 19th September – Bridgwater & Taunton Canal & River Parrett

09:00    Check out from the Hotel after breakfast.

09:30    We will be joined by Ray Alexander, Chairman of the IWA West

Country Branch and his colleagues and leave the hotel for a short walk

through Taunton and along the River Tone to Firepool Lock on the

Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. It is was here that the original entrance to the

Grand Western Tub Boat Canal was located.

10:00   Rejoining our coach, we depart for Creech St. Michael.

10:20    We take a walk along the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal to the beginning of

the former Chard Tub Boat Canal where the entrance area has been

regenerated by the Canal and River Trust. The Tub Boat Canal connected the

Bridgwater and Taunton Canal to Chard, a thirteen and a half mile waterway

that had to tackle a rise of 231 feet to reach its destination. This was achieved

by a series of four inclined planes. Opened in 1842 it, perhaps not

surprisingly, did not succeed and it closed 26 years later in 1868.

10:50   Rejoining our coach, we depart for Langport and the Upper Parrett  River.

Considerable regeneration has been undertaken on the Parrett to encourage

leisure and recreational facilities, and this was effectively completed on

Sunday 25th October last year, when the rebuilt slipway was used for the first

time.

The main piece of work still outstanding is a visit by the WRG Forestry Team

for a weekend to undertake tree work. This was deferred from  March 2020,

and is planned to be rescheduled for autumn 2022.

11:30   We arrive at Cocklemoor, one of Langport’s  many gems, and pause for tea

and coffee          .

12:00    A tour of Cocklemoor and beyond to view the new infrastructure on the

Upper River. This takes us through to Huish Bridge where Langport Town

Council had a new car park built and the slipway rebuilt, mainly with

European funds. The non-tidal River Parrett runs for six and a half miles from

Thorney Mills Bridge half lock (disused) to Oath Lock (now sluice gates)

where it becomes tidal.

12:30    A short walk to St. Mary’s Church to rejoin our coach.

12:40   We depart for Bridgwater Docks and a return to the Bridgwater and Taunton

Canal.

13:20   Arrive at Bridgwater Docks.

13:30   A pub lunch (carvery) is arranged in the Events Room of the ‘Admiral’s

Landing’, a popular dockside lunch.

14:15   A short talk by Ray Alexander on progress on securing the future of

Bridgwater Docks.

14:30   We tour Bridgwater Docks and its bascule bridge. This is a heritage site listed

in 1973 and now much in need of some TLC. The bascule bridge in particular

is noteworthy and is supposedly designed by I.K. Brunel. Plans are emerging

to restore it to full use.

15:30   We return to the ‘Admirals Landing’ for teas and coffees.

16:00   We rejoin our coach for the journey home.

Events