CANAL RESERVOIR SECTION:
Shaftesbury Lake to Broome Manor Lane (1.3 miles / 2 km)
Coate Water

Coate Water is a man-made reservoir. Constructed by the Wilts & Berks Canal Company in the early 1820s, it provided a store of water to top-up the canal. Water reached the canal via a 2 mile / 3.2km feeder.

Following the arrival of the Great Western Railway in the 1840s, the canal gradually fell into decline and, when the canal officially closed in 1914, the reservoir was bought by Swindon Corporation.

There are several walking and cycling routes from Coate Water, including the National Cycle Route 45. The path around the reservoir is approximately 1¾ miles / 2.8km long and takes about 45 minutes.

From the south end of Shaftesbury Lake follow the footpath southwards. Cross over Shaftesbury Avenue for the pedestrian crossings at Queens Drive and Marlborough Road to reach the historic, green entrance gates of Coate Water Country Park.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE:

Facing the main gates, walk left along the pavement toward the hospital, past the Sun Inn to the Richard Jefferies Museum.

Richard Jefferies Museum

The museum honours Richard Jefferies, a well-known Victorian writer, born at Coate in 1848. The museum is his childhood home. Inspired by the landscape around Coate Water, and a passionate environmentalist, he wrote extensively on rural matters and human behaviour, as well as prose poetry.

The Richard Jefferies Museum Trust was founded in 2014 to develop and manage the museum. The site contains a 17th century thatched cottage bought by the Jefferies family in 1800, a 19th century three-storey farmhouse, outbuildings, gardens, a copse, an orchard and vegetable gardens. Inside, there is an extensive collection relating to Richard Jefferies. Since taking over the museum, The Richard Jefferies Trust has introduced a programme of arts and nature events, and a small museum café.

A small gate on the south-west edge of the museum’s back garden leads into Coate Water Country Park.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE:

Day House Lane borders the north-east side of the Richard Jefferies Museum; walk along the lane to discover an ancient stone circle.

Stone Circle

Five partially buried sarsen stones can be seen just north-east of Day House Farm. They are the remains of a late Neolithic / early Bronze Age stone circle that was 266ft / 90m in diameter.

Walk through the main gates, up the slope and turn right, past the small café kiosk, to follow the Green Tail around the edge of the reservoir.

Art Deco Diving Board

The ‘Art Deco’ Diving Board was constructed in 1936 using 215 tonnes of concrete and two tonnes of reinforcing steel – it replaced an earlier timber structure. The Grade II listed diving board towers nearly 42 ft /10 m above the water. Swimming and several other water sports and activities were popular at Coate Water until prohibited in 1958.

Follow the edge of the reservoir westwards along the avenue of lime trees to the gate at Broome Manor Lane.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Coate Water is both a Local Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is one of the largest bodies of water in Wiltshire and a popular site for birdwatching. For children there’s a splash park, a play park and crazy golf. The country park’s activities include pitch and putt, walking, birdwatching and fishing. Dogs are welcome.

If you need some help please call us on 01793 317410 or e-mail admin@southswindon-pc.gov.uk