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Canal Towpath

Footpath map

The usual approach to the canal from the village is via Souldern Grounds or via Wharf Lane (which is a public road) however here the towpath is described as a walk northwards from Somerton to Aynho.

The section of towpath described here is almost all within the parish boundaries, although starting in Somerton and ending in Aynho parishes. It forms part of the Oxford Canal Walk, a long-distance route, following the towpath for 77 miles from Oxford to Hawkesbury near Coventry.


Starting at the bridge over the canal on the Somerton to Aston road, which can be reached from Souldern either by road or via the footpath from Upper Souldern Grounds.

The path down to the canal from the road bridge at Somerton.


The canal bridge at Somerton.


The towpath looking North shortly after leaving Somerton.


This bridge takes a private farm road over the canal just South of Somerton lock.


Approaching Somerton Lock.


The steps by the Southern gate at Somerton lock.


Somerton deep lock is one of the deepest locks in the original British canal network.


The Northern lock gate.

Just north of the lock, the canal crosses into Souldern parish.


The weir north of the lock allows water to overflow into the Cherwell.


Entering Souldern Parish after the weir.


The canal just south of Chisnell lifting bridge.


Views over the Cherwell towards Clifton and Deddington.


North of the lock the canal bends sharply eastwards before reaching the Chisnell Lifting bridge.


The towpath passes through several gates.


Approaching the Chisnell Lift bridge.


The bridge offers an easy route to Souldern via the path to Chisnell Lift bridge, and Souldern Grounds Farm.

The brickwork supporting the canal under the bridge has recently been completely renovated.


If the bridge is up then it can be lowered from the Western, towpath, side by pulling on the rope, or if approaching from Souldern, by lifting the main arms.


The view North from the lifting bridge.


Approaching the county boundary.


An unusual arrangement of weirs allows  Ockley brook and other tributaries to cross the canal and flow into the Cherwell. One of these forms the county boundary.


Views towards the railways, both visible on the Eastern side of the canal.


South of Wharf Farm.


Approaching Wharf Farm.


The brick bridge at Wharf farm is the junction with the path to Clifton, and also provides an easy walk back up the hill to Souldern along Wharf Lane.


North of Wharf Farm.


A small grass covered loading ramp.


Views towards the Northern Souldern Viaduct.


Canal boats moored south of Aynho Wharf.


The Road bridge at Aynho Wharf.


The towpath continues northwards, but not described in these pages.


After passing under the bridge, the towpath carries on, but here we follow this path to the left to join the road from Aynho.


The sign by the path to join the towpath from the road at Aynho wharf.


The view North from the bridge at Aynho Wharf. Several footpaths provide alternative walking routes back to Souldern. Along the railway, or via Souldern Mill, or via Souldern Church.