10 canal activities this half term in Stroud, Stonehouse, Chalford

Half term is approaching and with some Covid restrictions still in place, it’s a great time to try some outdoor activities.

Stroudwater canal provides the perfect opportunity, especially with the Kingfisher Trail and slow canal trail ongoing.

So take a look at the top ten canal-side activities we’ve compiled with Cotswolds Canal Connected.

1. Take a selfie with a kingfisher.

The Kingfisher Trail is a leisure trail around the Cotswolds featuring giant artist-designed sculptures, produced by local artists.

One kingfisher has roosted at the Lockkeepers Café in Wallbridge in Stroud, and another is on the green in Stonehouse, with more flying to the area soon. 

Stroud News and Journal: A kingfisher sculpture in StonehouseA kingfisher sculpture in Stonehouse

2. Enjoy a picnic.

There are a number of great picnic spots with plenty of grass along the canal corridor, including Wallbridge (near the double roundabout in Stroud), at Queen Elizabeth II playing field (near Sainsbury’s) and at Ocean (behind the Stonehouse Court Hotel).

You could treat yourself to lunch or a takeaway drink at one of the many cafes along the canal route, such as Stroud Brewery, the Bowbridge Arms, the Felt Café, Kitsch café bar, Stonehouse Court Hotel’s canalside takeaway and the Falafel Pod.

Stroud News and Journal:

3. Play bingo.

There are two downloadable themed games to choose from – Wildlife or Heritage

Stroud News and Journal: Credit: Cotswold Canals ConnectedCredit: Cotswold Canals Connected

4. Take a walk.

There are miles of canal towpath to explore, most of which is flat and accessible.

There are four Walking and Cycling trails which have been developed in partnership with Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership.

Stroud News and Journal: The canal in Ebley photographed by Karin AyresThe canal in Ebley photographed by Karin Ayres

5. Ride your bike.

The flat traffic free towpaths are ideal for family bike rides. Read the Canal and River Trust’s Towpath Code before you set out, and be mindful of other towpath users.

Stroud News and Journal:

6. Follow a Food and Farm trail.

Will you take the Nutshell Trail, Vineyard Trail, Alpaca Trail or Ice cream Trail?

Each walk is circular, and starts at either Stroud or Stonehouse train stations.

Stroud News and Journal: Food and Farm Trails map designed by Ruth HicksonFood and Farm Trails map designed by Ruth Hickson

7. See what a railway bridge looks like before its installed.

Network Rail will be replacing the existing (very small) bridge at Ocean later this year with one large enough to enable boats to pass through. The new bridge has been cast onsite and the monolithic pieces can be spotted from the towpath if you walk through the tunnel at Ocean.

8. Become a wildlife ecologist with the Wildlife ID booklet.

It’s full of interesting facts so you can learn more about local species, and has space for you to record the animals, plants and field signs you see.

9. Visit an art exhibition.

There’s one by local artists’ collective OK Let’s Create Stuff on display at Stroud and Stonehouse train stations, and a community exhibition of people’s art, poems and thoughts about the canal displayed on the Cotswold Canals Connected canal side notice boards.

Stroud News and Journal: Stroud Station photographed by Razvan LiviuStroud Station photographed by Razvan Liviu

10. Walk through an interactive sound & light bridge.

When you walk through Haywards Bridge (under Horsetrough roundabout near Ryeford) you’ll set off an interactive light and sound display created by sound and light artist Jack Wimperis and Miniature Museum. 

Bonus activity

You stuck with us until the end, so how about rewarding yourself by listening to some canal tales.

Audio posts have been installed using canal artefacts at Blunder Lock and Ocean by Miniature Museum.

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