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Braunston Village & Canal Circular Heritage Walk

This self-guided circular heritage walk takes you from Braunston village centre to the Grand Union Canal, along the towpath, over historic iron bridges and past the church known locally as the cathedral of the canals.





3.5 miles (5.6km)



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Braunston is a pretty village overlooking the Grand Union Canal. It is popular with boaters and an important junction on the canal network.

On this self guided heritage walk, you will see the historic Horsley cast iron bridge over the marina entrance and the iconic Stop House.

At ‘Braunston Turn’ the Oxford Canal branches off to the north, whilst to the west the Grand Union Canal continues to the West Midlands. On the Braunston flight, there are six locks, most of which you pass during the walk. As you follow the walk, keep an eye out for hidden heritage along the way.

Walk details


Most of the route is reasonable towpaths, but some parts could be muddy.


The route includes some steps and kissing gates.


There isn’t a car park in the village, but parking on the roads is available near the Village Hall or Green. The walk directions start from the Village Hall.

Braunston Village & Canal Walk Map

Find directions to the Activity

Begin the Walk

1. Braunston Village Hall

Starting at Braunston Village Hall, head along The Green away from the village green with the Hall on your left. This road quickly becomes Welton Rd.

2. Dark Lane

Continue along Welton Road and soon you will see Dark Lane on your right. Take this turning. This narrow lane will take you downhill towards the Grand Union Canal.

3. Continue Along Dark Lane

Follow the road round the bend, past the track leading to Bottom Lock.

Note: You can shorten the walk slightly by following the track, crossing the bridge and turning right along the Canal, rejoining the route at point 5.

4. Admiral Nelson Pub

At the end of the lane is the Admiral Nelson Pub. The Pub was originally a farm building, constructed before the canal.

Just before the Pub, take a right across the Canal bridge, and right again at the end of the bridge.

Go down the steps and through the gate to join the towpath. Then, turn left on the towpath and follow it with the Canal on your right hand side.

5. Braunston Bottom Lock & Pumphouse

Follow the canal past the lock cottage and underneath bridge 3.

You will see Braunston Bottom Lock with the Boat Shop, Union Canal Carriers Ltd yard dry dock and the old GUCC pumping station.

The pumping station was originally built in 1805 and rebuilt in 1897 to pump water up the lock flight.

6. Site of an old quarry

Continue along the towpath to the wooden footbridge. If you look out across the canal, you will see a depression in the ground. This is the site of an old quarry, which was used to make the bricks which line Braunston tunnel.

7. Bridge 1 or Butchers Bridge

Walk under bridge 1 and you will see evidence of the days when working boats were towed by horses.

There are deep grooves in the brickwork where the tow ropes rubbed against the bridge over many years.

Continue along the canal to the cast iron bridge entrance to Braunston Marina.

8. Braunston Marina

This is a fine example of a Horsley Iron Works cast iron bridge dating from 1834, built by Thomas Telford. This bridge marks the original junction of the old Oxford Canal.

The bridge goes over the entrance to Braunston Marina. You’re likely to see a number of historic working boats moored in the Marina. Gongoozlers Rest Narrowboat Cafe is also here serving light refreshments.

9. Braunston Stop House

This Grade II Listed Building, known as the Braunston Stop House, was originally a toll office. Payments were collected from the commercial boats moving between the Grand Junction and Oxford Canals.

There was originally a lock outside the toll house but this was later removed.

Continue along the Canal, past the Boat House to the next cast iron bridge.

10. Braunston Junction

Proceed along the towpath to Braunston Junction, also known as Braunston Turn. This pair of cast iron bridges was built in 1834. Walk up the first bridge.

The canal branching off to the left is the Grand Union Canal. You will see a turnover or roving bridge further along the Grand Union Canal. This is where the horses that pulled the old working boats could cross from one side of the canal to the other without unhitching from the boat.

Follow the towpath ahead along the Oxford Canal and under bridge 90.

11. Bridge 89 on the Oxford Canal

Our walk takes us a little way up the Oxford to bridge 89. This is the second bridge after the canal junction.

At Bridge 89, cross the canal bridge and follow the footpath up the hill leading to the church.

This is not a clearly marked path, but if you keep to the left side of the field (usually grazed by sheep) and head for the church, you’ll find a gate at the top of the field on the left hand side.

12. All Saints Church Braunston

The All Saints Church in Braunston is known locally as cathedral of the canals.

Passing through the gate turn right. Keeping the church on your left, follow the road towards Braunston Village.

Continue through the historic village and then back to the Green and Village Hall.

Walk Complete

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