What is it about all these ‘offerings’ being made to the “Dog Poo Fairy?”

I cycle through Sydney Gardens on a regular basis. Last week there was a bagged bundle just inside the  Sydney Road entrance. It disappeared in time but there was another one in its place today.


A little offering – just inside the park entrance.

It’s not as though the park doesn’t contain doggie poo bins – because it does and most dog owners use it.


Today’s ‘offering’ in roughly the same place.

I never blame a dog for misdemeanours. After all, it’s the owner who has to take responsibility.

It’s a shame some parts of Sydney Gardens have just become a playground for dogs off their leads. Even the poor old spring daffodils have been taking a battering from our four-legged friends running wild.

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Trampled daffs!

Here’s hoping this historic green lung gets its HLF money and its supporters are able to transform it into a revitalised playground with allocated space for all.

Sydney Gardens gives you access to the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal. Turn left towards open countryside and you are in for a real treat.


The snow has gone now and the canalside looks even worse!

Shame the Canal and River Trust has no real teeth to deal with some of those actually floating on the canal.

Not for me to say how you live your lives but when your rubbish despoils and destroys the canal verge – where others living in tents have also lit fires – it’s time to move on.


The grit bag is full of rubbish – and there’s a pile of black bags alongside it now!

Never mind the dog poo fairy, here’s a bag of towpath grit being used as a general rubbish dump!

l feel for the responsible users of this amazing heritage and for the volunteers who do all they can to maintain it.

Saving our river from rubbish.

Saving our river from rubbish.

Bath won’t be missing out – when it comes to community action – during next month’s  ‘Great British Spring Clean.’

There’s an invitation for more to join in on a mammoth litter picking exercise – from 2nd to the 4th of March – along the River Avon  through the city. For the first time ever this will include cleaning up the river as well as its banks.

Do check out the poster below for more information.

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Canal clean up – first phase completed!

Canal clean up – first phase completed!

If – like me – you are a regular user of Sydney Gardens you may have notice volunteers – working for the Canal and River Trust – have been busy removing tons of mud from abutments leading towards the ‘Sabrina head’ tunnel.

To be more precise they’ve  been out on the waters of the Kennet and Avon Canal with a massive floating grabber – and it’s made quite a difference.


The buckets removing tons of clay from where it had been tipped.

In a separate story – elsewhere on the site – volunteer Ian Herve explains how they are trying to return the stretch through the gardens to how it would have looked on its original completion.

But today – Wednesday, February 7th – he tells me:

“The first phase is over.
CRT work-boat, the “Chew Valley” with the enthusiastic support of the Bath volunteer group and their work-boat “HINTON” have removed, over the last 5 days, an estimated 90 tonnes of clay from in front of the “Sabrina” tunnel facade.

You can just see the cleared abutment to the left of the Sabrina Head tunnel.

Two yew stumps that have been cluttering the view near the southern footbridge for the last few years have also been taken from the site and left to decay in a less intrusive spot.
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The cleared abutment – alongside the footbridge – from which the two yew stumps have been removed.

Comparing the view as seen in Nash’s 1927 painting, which shows some deposits already in place, I think we can say that this wonderful facade has not been seen like this for at least 100 years.
We will now let the area dry out for a few months and then begin the recovery of the stonework.  This in consultation with CRT’s Heritage advisors.

The volunteers had to remove vegetation growing on top before attacking the mud pile.



How it looks now it has been cleared.


This is, I think, a great example of how CRT and their volunteers combine to take on work that would not be done otherwise.”

Most of the mud piles were left over from the restoration work done in the late 70’s and 80’s which re-opened John Rennie’s87-mile long waterway – originally built between 1794 and 1810.

Working on water.

Working on water.

If you are a regular user of the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath through Bath you may have noticed a group of people busy cutting back the overgrowth, painting railings and shifting tons of accumulated soil from the offside abutments.


Some of the volunteers at work on the Sydney Gardens stretch of the K & A.

They are unpaid volunteers – working under the auspices of the Canal and River Trust – and currently concentrating activity on the canal as it runs through Sydney Gardens.

Historically, this was an area created to be a Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ – a pleasure garden – opened in 1795 –  for grown-ups! Which offered everything from outside dining to adult swings in the middle of a thrill-on-every-dead-end labyrinth.

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The shape of the canal through Sydney Gardens.

The Kennet and Avon Canal Company paid a fair sum to be allowed to dig out a route through the park and charged with ensuring that what was created looked good too.

John Rennie was the engineer who linked the Severn with the Thames and London with excavations between 1799 and 1810.

These days the narrowboats aren’t carrying coal, stone or foodstuffs but carrying pleasure seekers taking advantage of what has been a massive and expensive restoration of the route.

The Sydney Gardens bit is well-used but was getting just as run down as the parkland around it.


The canal through Sydney Gardens.

Whilst the Gardens apply for HLF funding to spruce things up, this section of the canal below relies upon the skills and muscle power of its volunteer men and women.

This section is being led by Ian Herve who – when not on canal business – is a volunteer Mayor’s Guide like me.


Volunteer, Ian Herve who is leading the group currently working wonders along the canal through Sydney Gardens.

I met him down on the towpath to hear more of the group’s plans for ‘enhanced improvement’ of this stretch of well-used and much-loved canal.



Find out more about how you could join the team as a volunteer by clicking on



A (paint) brush with the past.

A (paint) brush with the past.

Elsewhere on this website you will see a story reflecting the sad state of affairs in historic Sydney Gardens.

The ‘Friends’ are helping to put together a Heritage Lottery Fund application to – hopefully – get the money  to arrest the damage and help give the park a real future.

Bath Newseum follower Ian Herve has been in touch to remind me – and you – that there is another feature running through this former Georgian pleasure grounds that IS getting some immediate attention.

That’s thanks to the volunteers working for the Canal and River Trust. The canal – built by designer-engineer John Rennie’s navvies between 1799 and 1810 – cuts through the gardens.


The canal as it runs through Sydney Gardens.

Ian – who is Vice-Chair of the Bath branch of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust – told Bath Newseum that if you go and look down into the cutting…..

‘You will see the work that volunteers have completed over the summer whilst also cutting back the overgrown vegetation that comes from the park and obstructs the towpath and damages the retaining walls.

You might also have noticed the newly painted railings through the tunnels.  Completed over three days from our workboat.

Volunteers complete the repairing of the railings – in both tunnels – within three days.

So community involvement is not as dead as you make out, the Bath Towpath Workforce is a shining light along the whole 87 miles of the canal.
I know Apathy would Rule if he could be bothered to get up off the sofa and turn the telly off but there are small groups beavering very happily in places.’
Ian says an improvement scheme for the whole area of the canal where it passes through Sydney Gardens is now being discussed by all interested parties and may well be added to the HLF bid.
Threatened on the towpath

Threatened on the towpath

You have got to sort things out on the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath – Canal and River Trust .

l was verbally threatened this morning by a jogger – with a dog running in front of him – on the downward incline to Grosvenor Bridge. It was  after sounding my bicycle warning horn – and ignoring my warning – he refused my polite request to call his dog over so l could pass.


The incline up to the towpath.

Telling me all cyclists speed along the towpath – and waving his finger in my face – he told me – with teeth clenched – to remember his.

I took that as making a threat. Must admit l was visibly shaken.

I have in five years always sought to share that path. Have always given warning. I don’t own a flashy bike with all the gear. It is a working machine equipped with the means of warning people.

He told me he has priority. I told him the signs along the towpath say pedestrians and children. I could equally argue the dog was not under proper control.

I will remember his face.

I did not raise my voice or return the swear words he left me with. I could cycle off without the need for a ‘f–k’ off to send me on my way.

Pure aggression. I don’t like it.

History markers

History markers

Where would much-enjoyed amenities like the Kennet and Avon Canal be without its army of volunteers.


The new surface on the towpath into Bath.

People who keep this restored and much appreciated relic from the country’s industrial past up and running as a leisure facility.

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Volunteers erecting one of the posts that will hold the information board in position.

The canal is in the care of the Canal and River Trust and your Director caught up with some of those volunteers busy erecting information boards along the length of the recently resurfaced towpath leading out of Bath and into beautiful countryside.

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It’s a highly visual way of giving easy to read information on the nearby Cleveland Pools.

One of the boards marks the path that leads off – across the main Bristol to London railway line – towards the Cleveland Pools.

This is what remains of an original Georgian lido and an historic structure it is hoped will soon be restored and re-opened to the public as an open-air swimming pool.


A closer look at the Cleveland Pools board.

It’s good to see the board now doing its bit to both mark the lido’s presence but also tell people of the positive plans the Cleveland Pools Trust – and its own army of volunteers – have for its future.