The Woolston Towpath was the location for this week’s walk. We started from the Radley Street Bridge, near the original site of Christchurch Quay. Before the rail tunnel was opened in 1867 goods were brought inland by small ships. Sailing up the Heathcote was made difficult by strong tides and winds, and boats would be towed by horses. From the Quay goods were taken to Christchurch by horse and dray. High freight charges meant it could cost almost as much to bring goods from Lyttelton to Christchurch as it did to carry them from London to Lyttelton.
The Woolston Cut was built in 1986 to mitigate the risk of flooding on the lower Heathcote. Its gates are opened in time of floods, allowing the water to bypass a loop of the river.
This is a picturesque area, with many trees. Bollards mark the wharves where boats used to tie up. The path is mainly sealed, and good for cycles as well as for walking.
“We walked away from Ferry Road
along the path where boats were towed”