The Grand Union Canal - walking the towpath from Muscot Mill to Blisworth Tunnel.
Trees and Bridges and more Bridges all within quiet countryside are the main features of this section of The Grand Union Canal.The following continues from our Braunston Locks, Norton Junction and Buckby Locks - Grand Union Canal item.
With all the flights of locks encountered further north, this section of the Grand Union Canal is a complete change - not a canal lock in sight!. The route alongside the canal and towpath is quite "countrified" - i.e. grassed or quite muddy after rain and
is mostly quite narrow. There are quite a few very nice old brick bridges on the way and this stretch of the canal is often lined with beautiful trees -
offering excellent walking especially in the Autumn when the leaves change.
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Canal Bridge no.16
Canal Bridge 16
Muscott Mill Bridge 18
Muscott Mill Bridge
ex Canal Bridge 20?
Brockhall Road Bridge21
Brockhall Road Bridge
a5 Bridge no.22
a5 Canal Bridge
Dodford Bridge 23
Weedon Bridge no.24
The British Army at Weedon Bec and their use of the Grand Union Canal for transporting Ordnance. Weedon was at one time the location of an important Military Ordnance Depot - constructed between 1805 and 1806 it was used as a central small arms depot for the British Army. The depot had it's own small branch leaving from The Grand Union Canal and later a railway siding was added. The Grand Union Canal was therefore an essential part of moving gunpowder, horses, troops and ordnance around the
country. The depot contained large storage buildings which contained a variety of military ordnance and equipment ranging from pistols and rifles through to field artillery - in 1806 it was reported there was sufficient small arms to arm 200,000 men and the depot stored 140 pieces of cannon. Towards the end of the canal branch there were eventually five gunpowder magaines as well as a large clothing store. Weedon also had a military barracks and many stables to house both a troop of cavalry and a troop of horse artillery
plus there was a large battalion of troops located nearbye.
Aqueduct Bridge Weedon
Weedon Aqueduct Bridge
Weedon Beck Bridge25
Weedon Beck Bridge
Stowehill Bridge no.26
sluice nr Bridge 27
Flore Lane Bridge 27
Flore Lane Bridge
High House Bridge29
High House Bridge
Site of bridge 30 or 31
Heyford Wharf Bridge 32
Marina Heyford Fields
Elliots Bridge 35
Bugbrooke Wharf Bridge 36
Canal Bridge 40
Canal Bridge 41
Banbury Lane Bridge 43
Banbury Lane Bridge
Banbury Lane Bridge
Banbury Lane Bridge 43a
East's Bridge 44
Wrights Lane Bridge
Turnover Bridge 47
The Grand Union Canal - Gayton Junction.
At Gayton (canal) Junction The Northampton Canal Arm branches off from the Grand Union Canal by Junction Bridge 48 - horses pulling the barges to and from the
Northampton Arm would have used Turnover Bridge 47. There are a nice series of 17 canal locks along the 5 mile long Arm including the 13 Rothersthorpe Lock Flight - this is a really good and interesting area for walking and cycling.
Please see our Northampton Canal Arm
topic for photos and more information.
Junction Bridge 48
ex railway Bridge
Station Road Bridge
Candle Bridge 50
Blisworth Mill Bridge 51
Blisworth Mill Bridge
Blisworth Mill area
Boat traffic using Blisworth Tunnel and also Braunston Tunnel in the olden days.
Originally boats had to be legged through both tunnels then eventually ordinary traffic was pulled through the tunnels by canal company tugs. However gunpowder boats still had to be legged through individually for obvious reasons (see above about the use of the canal for moving gunpowder around from Weedon Beck) . Independant steamers could pass through the tunnels at any time - in the case of Blishworth Tunnel they passed on the left side and through Braunston Tunnel on the right side. The company tugs left at
fixed times and tickets were issued for Blisworth Tunnel at Gayton and Stoke Bruerne Toll Offices and for Braunston at Branstona and Buckby Toll Offices.
Constructing Tunnels on The Grand Union Canal.
Building long tunnels such as the 3076 yard long Blisworth Tunnel (completed in 1805) was probably the most difficult and certainly the most dangerous part of the construction of the canal systems in the U.K. The tunnels would be started from either side of the hill but also shafts were opened along the route and miners would work outwards
from these as well - the idea being of course to all meet up to create the tunnel. At the time the only tools available to the miners were picks, shovels and wheelbarrows.
Above the tunnel
Blisworth Tunnel S
Blisworth Tunnel S
Parts of Blisworth Tunnel's original route which started construction in 1793 came across quicksand in 1796 (and the intended route had
to be abandoned) - building tunnels in those times was very dangerous work. Once the tunnels were completed some airshafts were filled in whilst others were left to provide ventilation as several at
Blisworth Tunnel and at Braunston Tunnel
where they can still be seen in the fields above.
If out towpath walking or cycling on this stretch of the Grand Union Canal when you reach the northern end of
there is no towpath going through the actual tunnel so you have to go over the top. About two thirds of this is along a fairly quiet road and the last bit takes you slowly down on a wide path to the Southern side of the Tunnel. Above tthere is a photo of one of the segments which was used to re-line Blisworth Tunnel during the 1980s when the original brick lining was replaced with similar concrete segments.
Also see our Following along The Grand Union Canal in England
Home Page which contains a listing of all our items about the canal on it's journey from Birmingham to London and The Thames. Also find there links to our topics about the Grand Union Canal's numerous Canal Arms and Sections including the excellent Leicester Canal Section.
Other of our websites about England are about British Wildflowers, English Churches, more Canals and Rivers
including The Stratford-on-Avon Canal, The Oxford Canal, The Kennet and Avon Canal, The Regents Canal, River Stort, River Lee and The Thames Path. Please visit our GUC Resources
topic to find links to these.
Also via GUC Resources
you can find links to our travel websites covering holidays and tours of Portugal Algarve, Greek Islands, several Canary Islands, Cyprus, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and The Mekong Delta.