Exploring the Somerset Coal Canal
Around Midford, south of Bath, there are miles of abandoned and disused industrial infrastructure from the 19th century, when this area was undergoing a coal mining boom.

A canal was dug, to bring the coal out of the valley faster. The canal's engineer was one William Smith, who noticed fossils in the rocks and made mental connections that no-one else had made before: he worked out the basics of geology, and made the first geological maps.

Smith lived alongside his canal at Tucking Mill, but it wasn't long before the canals were rendered obsolete by the railways, and the Somerset Coal Canal was abandoned, although some parts were re-used for rail lines.

Now, even the trains have gone. The valley is a ghost of its industrial past, tranquil and beautiful now. The remains of the canal and the various rail lines are entwined with the landscape, which is slowly growing around them. An aquaduct sits incongruously in a field. A line of locks steps its way up a hillside, empty of water now.

This was one of the best and most exciting walks I've been on in ages, and I can't wait to go back there with the family and explore it some more.
26 photos · 1,637 views