Horse Boating on the Grand Western Canal

Last month (is it that long ago?), we took a few days break in Somerset near Taunton - you may recall that we visited the remains of  Nynehead boat lift. The same day we visited Nynehead we moved over the border into Devon to take a trip on a horse drawn barge along the section of the Grand Western that has been restored and is in water . The Tiverton Canal Company operates from the Tiverton terminus of the canal where there is a newly opened Canal Centre.

Horseboat and Canal Centre at Tiverton

The Tiverton Canal Company not only operate the horseboat but they have a floating cafe called Dirt Ditty's  in the basin, so we took the opportunity to have lunch there. The pasties went down very well! Whilst were eating the boat, the "Tivertonian" duly arrived.

Tivertonian drawn by Taffy 

The horse and boat are famous for being on the front cover of the 2012 Countryfile Calender that was produced for Children in Need. The BBC have also made a film about the boat and the canal

Taffy the Calender Horse!

Just after we left the basin for our two-hour and a half hour trip, the dog Roxy jumped onto the back of Taffy the horse for a lift.

Roxy hitching a ride

Negotiating reeds

Going under a bridge

Taffy coming home

The trip started at Tiverton basin and the boat turned around at East Manley just short of the aqueduct that crosses the former Brunel designed broad gauge railway. At the winding hole some private boats are moored. Unfortunately just beyond here the canal suffered a severe breach in November 2012 but this does not unduly shorten the trip. It looks like the canal, which is owned by Devon County Council will reopen in the near future enabling boaters to travel as far as Lowdwells. (See Map).

Canal at East Manley
We can thoroughly recommend this trip. Horseboating is unique and should be experienced. As the crew pointed out, there are only four horse-drawn trip boats in the country, I recommend trying this one if you are in the West Country.