This canal has a small claim to fame, in that it has 41 miles free of locks — one of the longest stretches in Britain. I have been looking around the marina at its northern navigable limit, and would quite like to nose around a gothic house a mile west-northwest. Its history reaches back to the 13th century, but the present building dates from circa 1765, and is well known for its links with the furnishing profession.
Sadly, it’s closed today, so instead I head to a seaside village two miles to its west. It was here that a brewer (born 1813) retired. Think two bees. It was also a favourite holiday haunt of an author (born 1810), and probably inspired a village in her 1853 novel: characters include Henry, Ruth and Thurston. What a fine place, too, to sit by the sea and munch my curried beef rolls.
After lunch, I head three miles southeast to a village where I call at the rectory. Some rectory! All that remains here is, in effect, the ruins of a 13th-century hall; it was obviously far larger, but has been in a state of ruination for many years.
Finally, my thoughts turn to railway matters and short meetings. So it is that I head for a town (through which the aforementioned canal flows) and its station. Famously, it was where scenes from a smouldering 1945 romantic film were shot — “Could you really say goodbye? Never see me again?” My word, it was a bit of a tear-jerker. “Not suitable for general exhibition,” read some of the posters. Tosh! I’m off to find a Bath bun.