Canal Spring Festival offers a raft of free activities
Published: Thursday, 27 April, 2023
A host of activities including canoeing, paddleboarding, boating, live music, dog shows, arts and crafts, and childrens activities will bring the canal to life in Stonehouse in May.
The Canal Spring Festival will take place on Sunday 14 May at various locations along the canal in Stonehouse, including St Cyr’s Church, Boakes Drive and Stonehouse Court Hotel:
- Teckels Dog Show – Join Teckels Animal Shelter with a furry friend to partake in various competitions, such as Waggiest Tail and Dog Most Like It’s Owner.
- Live Music – Stonehouse Court will be bustling with live music from local bands and musicians.
- Arts & Crafts Market – Stonehouse Market will be joined by local arts and crafts people to show the creative talent Stroud district has to offer.
- Kid’s Kingdom – Boakes Drive will be home to a variety of fun, high energy kids activities with Craftology, Into Nature and Disco Nature.
- Theatre & Tell Me More Stage – The Wild Geese Theatre Company will be performing their production of Boudica. The Tell me More Stage will involve talks from local residents, poets, business owners and members of the Cotswold Canals Connected team.
- Choirs at St Cyr’s – The church will be alive with song as it welcomes local choirs for the day. There will also be tours of the medieval tower.
- Fun on the Water – Stroud Canoe Club, Discover Paddling and Cotswold Boatmobility will be offering taster sessions and trips. Paddleboarding sessions must be booked in advance here.
- Environment & Heritage – Meet the local organisations restoring and preserving the Stroudwater canal. Experts and enthusiasts will be on hand to talk about the canal restoration, heritage and wildlife living along it.
It will be preceded by The Lock Challenge (TLC) on Saturday 13 May which will see participants walk or run 5k, 5 mile and 10 mile routes along the canal towpaths. There will also be an accessible route of up to 3k, which is open to all.
The weekend of events aims to highlight the incredible resource that is the Stroudwater canal, and to encourage more people to use and visit it. This is a fantastic opportunity to experience the canal before the restoration process begins, and to understand the positive impact it will have on local communities once it is fully restored.
Both events will be accessible to all and the site will have blue badge parking, a Mobiloo, accessible toilets, quiet spaces away from crowds and accessible boat trips. The site is also mostly flat and of good terrain.
Cotswold Canals Connected is encouraging people to avoid driving where possible; parking is limited, and the project believes in promoting sustainable or active travel. There are trains and buses to Stonehouse and the event will be well signposted. Parking will however be available at Bond’s Mill, and blue badge parking at Stonehouse Court Hotel.
All TLC routes will begin at the idyllic St Cyr’s Church and follow the River Frome on the outward journey and the existing Stroudwater Navigation on the return leg. The 10 and 5 mile routes include a section where the ‘Missing Mile’ section of canal will be developed in three years’ time. The accessible route will head along the already restored canal towards Stroud, and circle back to St Cyr’s Church, Stonehouse. This route will be accessible for wheelchairs, buggies and mobility scooters.
The ‘Missing Mile’ is a section of canal from Oldbury Brook, Eastington to the A38 Roundabout, Whitminster that was infilled in the 1960s to allow for the construction of the M5. The Cotswold Canals Connected partnership is committed to restoring this section, as well as a further 3 miles of the Stroudwater Navigation Canal from Ocean Jubilee Bridge, Stonehouse to Saul Junction, to connect with the Gloucester and Sharpness canal.
Tickets for TLC must be booked in advance here.
Chris Mitford-Slade, Canal Project Director said:
“This is an exciting event for people to enjoy – whether you’re a regular on the canal or if the Canal Spring Festival will be a first-time visit, there will be something for everyone to enjoy. All the entry proceeds for TLC will fund the event itself but also go towards the canal restoration project. Not only will you be able to view some beautiful sections of the canal but if you purchase a ticket it is good to know that the funds will go back into these amazing waterways.”
Catherine Braun, Leader of Stroud District Council said:
“TLC and the Canal Spring Festival are a wonderful way for everyone to enjoy our canals. A section of the canal will undergo a transformation over the next 3 years so now is a good time to visit the locks. This is an inclusive event where there is plenty of opportunity for everyone to get involved – from running a 10 mile trail to enjoying some arts and crafts activities. Our Council Plan aims to improve local residents’ health and wellbeing through physical activity, and we continue to improve the accessibility of our outdoor spaces across the district.”
If you have always wanted to volunteer for the canal but not been able to because of work commitments, now is your chance. Volunteers are needed for both Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May to help set up/close and marshal. All volunteers will receive a free meal and a Canal Spring Festival t-shirt as a thank you. Sign up as a volunteer.
The Canal Spring Festival has been kindly sponsored by Stonehouse Town Council, Tony Gee & Partners, Gleeds and Alun Griffiths.
Cotswold Canals Connected is a partnership of organisations led by Stroud District Council and the Cotswold Canals Trust which are restoring the canal network. Phase 1A, which is now complete, restored the section between Thrupp and Stonehouse. Phase 1B, which includes this project, will restore a further four-mile section between Stonehouse and Saul Junction providing a connection to the national waterway network.
Find out more about the project at www.cotswoldcanalsconnected.org and by following Cotswold Canals Connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.