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Great Canal Journeys

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Timothy West and Prunella Scales embark on four spectacular canal journeys in Britain and France

About the Show

Timothy West and Prunella Scales embark on four spectacular canal journeys in Britain and France

Series 1 Summary

To celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales embark on four spectacular canal journeys, sharing a passion that they've enjoyed for decades.

  • Great Canal Journeys

    Episode 1 - The Kennet and Avon

    Tim and Pru travel along the 21-mile Kennet and Avon canal, from Bath to Devizes, meeting canal-side characters and wildlife along the way.

    Back in 1990, to promote the fully restored canal, Tim and Pru were invited to be the first boat in 42 years to travel the full length of the K&A.

    To complete this magical trip, Tim and Pru, take on the infamous Caen Hill - 16 locks in close succession - which takes five hours to navigate. It's a daunting prospect for any crew, let alone one in their 80s.

  • Great Canal Journeys

    Episode 2 - The Rochdale

    Prunella and Tim travel the Rochdale canal, past once mighty mills, the epic beauty of the Pennines and the longest and highest canal tunnel in Britain.

    The Rochdale was a main artery for the textile industry at the height of industrial revolution.

    Beginning in Sowerby Bridge, Tim and Pru head west through Mytholmroyd (the birthplace of Ted Hughes) and past the once mighty textile mills at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, before journeying up over the Pennines to more than 600 feet above sea level.

    It's the most physically demanding canal journey they have ever taken, with the second deepest lock in the country, vandalised bridges and ancient lock gates to negotiate. But it's also one of the most stunning, with the epic beauty of the Pennine hills.

    To help them along the way they are joined for part of the journey by their son Sam, himself a successful actor.

    Along the way, Tim and Pru meet some of the fascinating characters that live and work on the Rochdale; recite poetry by Ted Hughes in the exact spot he found inspiration; and pass on some thespian guidance to the cast of a local playhouse.

  • Great Canal Journeys

    Episode 3 - The Llangollen Canal

    This third canal journey takes Pru and Tim back to their honeymoon destination, Llangollen, in north Wales.

    They cross from Shropshire, via the Llangollen canal - one of the most picturesque canal journeys in the world.

    The trip includes the mystical hills of the Vale of Llangollen and the extraordinary Pontcysyllte aqueduct, the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain, and no place for the faint hearted.

    The couple also take a detour on the Montgomery canal, once an industrial thoroughfare, now an area of outstanding natural beauty.

    Tim visits the Llangollen steam railway and they travel on a horse-drawn barge up to the famous Horseshoe Falls.

  • Great Canal Journeys

    Episode 4 - Canal du Nivernais

    For the last stage of Tim and Pru's canal odyssey, they head to France's burgundy wine region to visit the Canal du Nivernais, which runs through some of the most picturesque scenery in northern France, passing towns and villages steeped in medieval history.

    The canal was critical in helping to ship wine north from the vineyards to Paris and beyond.

    The journey is a gastronomic pleasure trip for Tim and Pru. They visit the market at Chablis and help out at the annual grape harvest.

    They visit their youngest son, Joe and the medieval city of Auxerre; and also reflect on what the journey has meant for them as a couple.

Great Canal Journeys synopsis

Timothy West and Prunella Scales embark on four spectacular canal journeys in Britain and France

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Next on TV

The Kennet and Avon

Tim and Pru travel along the 21-mile Kennet and Avon canal, from Bath to Devizes, meeting canal-side characters and wildlife along the way.

More4 10pm Tue 11 Nov