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Show our canals some TLC at The Lock Challenge

Published: Tuesday, 14 March, 2023

Everyone who loves moving along the district’s canals can join in a new event which will raise funds and awareness of the restoration of our historic waterways.

The Lock Challenge (TLC) will take place on Saturday, May 13 and encourages people to tick off the locks and see where major developments are planned in the coming years. This unique opportunity will be the first, and only time, that the route will be open before the construction starts later this year.

TLC marks the first day of the Canal Spring Festival which is being held on the 13 and 14 May. The second day of the festival will be a free, family focused day along the canal with stalls, activities, food and drink.

The day involves a series of events suitable to all, encouraging people to take up the challenge, explore the canals and see history in the making. Participants can choose from a 10 mile, 5 mile or 5 kilometre run or walk. The day will also include a 3 to 4 kilometre accessible route suitable for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, buggies and accessible bikes, as well as a 3 mile kayaking or paddleboarding time trial. All proceeds from entry fees will help to fund the event itself, as well as the canal restoration.

All the running and walking routes follow the nearby 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.  In addition, the 10-mile route continues along the river all the way to Saul Junction, where the Stroudwater Navigation joins the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.

The accessible route will head along the already restored canal towards Stroud, and circle back to St Cyr’s Church, Stonehouse.

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.

All routes start at St Cyr’s Church, GL10 3QP and free-of-charge parking will be available at Bond’s Mill, GL10 3RF. It is accessible from Stroud via an hour long walk along the canal towpath, or a 15 minute walk from Stonehouse train station. The various routes will take place at staggered times between 9am and 3pm which will be confirmed closer to the date.

Chris Mitford-Slade, Canal Project Director said:

“We are excited to be holding the largest canal project event to date. After a number of successful events were held last year, and as the project is starting to gain momentum, we thought it was the perfect time to bring people to see and experience the canal in its entirety, before it undergoes it’s transformation over the next three years.

“The focus of The Lock Challenge is to get people of all ages and abilities moving on the canal; highlighting the versatility of the towpath and the health benefits it can provide.”

Catherine Braun, Leader of Stroud District Council said:

“This is a fantastic way for people to enjoy the benefits of the restored canal, and to support the next stage of the project. Research shows that canals can improve physical and mental health, so we are truly lucky to have this beautiful and biodiverse waterway in the Stroud district.

“The canal project aligns with all three priorities of our Council Plan, as it supports community wellbeing, the local economy and the environment, creating new natural habitat, promoting visitors, and through community events like The Lock Challenge, the canal also improves physical activity and sports participation.”

Cotswold Canals Connected is partnering with various local organisations and charities to ensure the event is accessible to all; one of which is GBG Bikes of Goals Beyond Grass, a charity dedicated to delivering inclusive sports and activities in Gloucestershire.

MaryClare Faulkner, Inclusive Cycling Lead at Goals Beyond Grass (GBG) said:

“At GBG Bikes our focus is to hold inclusive cycling sessions for anyone aged between 3 - 100, who would otherwise be unable to cycle. 

We own a fleet of adapted bikes in a wide range of styles and sizes and provide off-road inclusive cycling sessions at special schools and athletics tracks, as well as outreach sessions in parks and care homes.

We are excited to partner with Cotswold Canals Connected for TLC, to provide an opportunity for anyone to take part, whatever their ability. No-one need be excluded.”

Tickets for TLC must be booked in advance here.

The time trial is free-of-charge to those who bring their own paddleboard or kayak; or they can be hired for £10. Both options must be booked in advance.

Stay up to date with this event and the rest of the project at and by following Cotswold Canals Connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Tag CCC and #TLC2023 on your social media posts if you are training for the event.

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.           

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