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Foxton Locks Walk

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Built in 1812, this series of ten locks called the Foxton Staicase on the Grand Union Canal is a remarkable feat of engineering, making the canal in the 19th Century the M25 of its day. There is a really spectacular rise in the short distance from lower to upper levels. In all, the canal rises 75 feet. 

Between 1896 and 1900, to speed up traffic on the canal an Incline Plane was built beside the locks. Boats were raised and lowered in moveable docks by steel cables, an operation which took twelve minutes rather than the 45 needed when using the staircase. Photos can be seen in the museum alongside the canal. 

Then it's through the lovely village of Foxton to arrive at the towpath on the opposite side and walk back towards the locks. From there the walk goes across fields to the quiet little village of Gumley, with its 19th Century brick and timber cottages. It is a very ancient village. The Witan, or council, of Ethelbald, King of Mercia, met here in the 8th Century; and in 1086 the Domesday Book recorded a population of 20. St Helen's Church dates back to the 12th Century. Beside the church rise the walls and Italian campanile-style bell tower of the late 19th Century stables of Gumley Hall, built in 1764. The hall itself was demolished in 1964.

The canal is a spawning site for the common toad. Fish include pike, bream and chub. Near the banks, grass snakes are not uncommon, although birds such as the sedge warbler can often be found nesting. Boat trips are available, including horse-drawn barges in Foxton Village.

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