Please note the Calne section of the river route between Stanley lane car park to Black dog holt will be closed on the following dates regarding the shooting season.
November 7th and 21st, December 5th and 19th 2019.
January 2nd, 16th, 23rd and 30th 2020.
The River Avon is a major feature of Chippenham running through surrounding countryside and the town centre itself.
The North Wiltshire Rivers Route (NCN403) is a cycle route that runs along the route of the Avon through the town and links with the Millenium cycleway providing a safe and attractive route to walk, jog and cycle between Chippenham and Calne, and also out towards Lacock area.
The Pewsham stretch takes in the old Pewsham canal lock that is currently being restored. It is a there-and-back route for cyclists as there is no bike access through to the road at Reybridge. The route to Calne runs along the dis-used railway line.
Today’s cycleway essentially follows the route of the old Calne Railway Company track-bed, a single-line track-bed from Calne to Chippenham. The route, from Calne Station to Chippenham Station, was opened at a total cost of £49,283 and a further cost of £1,867 for the construction of Calne Station buildings (which no longer exist). The line opened on 29th October 1863 and remained operational until 18th September 1965. The approximate length of the route was just short of 7 miles.
Built originally as a Broad Gauge line, the G.W.R. converted the line to standard gauge over 15-16th August 1874; the line being re-opened on 17th August 1874. The G.W.R. assumed full ownership of the Calne Railway Company on 1st July 1892. The line remained in the hands of the G.W.R. until nationalisation in 1948, when British Rail (Western Region) assumed full control after the nationalisation of the railways.
The Route Today
From Chippenham Station (the cycleway is accessed via Monkton Park), the former track-bed passes over the River Avon at Black Bridge (now replaced by the metal cycle-bridge). Progressing further in the direction of Calne, there was a station at Stanley Bridge Halt (opened on 3rd April 1905 but no longer in existence). The track-bed climbed up over the former route of the Wilts & Berks Canal to Stanley.
Leaving Stanley, the route goes past the site of the former Cistercian Stanley Abbey, through Great Bodnage Copse, Searchers Wood and past the sewage farm. The route crosses the A4 road before reaching Black Dog Halt. Black Dog Halt and sidings enabled the Bowood Estate to benefit from the collection and distribution of goods for the House and for trade. Opened originally as a private station, it was not until 15th September 1952 that the Halt became a public station. The former Station Master’s House remains to this day a private dwelling and is visible when cycling or walking through the Halt towards Calne (on the left-hand side).
The final part of the route takes cyclists and walkers into Calne. The site of the Calne Station terminus can be evidenced only by the name of the current road – Station Road. Just along from Station Road is the starting point for those who want to commence the journey at Calne and travel towards Chippenham.
For more information on the route visit www.sustrains.org.uk/ncn/map/route/route-403
If you would like to know more about the history of the dis-used railway line you can find out about Calne here and Black Dog Halt here.