Bike riding the cycleway from the Pipehead at Guildford to the Prospect Reservoir

My wife and I were riding our bikes through Guildford yesterday, taking advantage of an exercise opportunity during the pandemic, and we stumbled across one of Sydney’s best cycleways.

Cycleway entry at Fowler Road Guildford

The cycleway from Guildford to the Prospect Reservoir follows the old open-air water canal that fed once water into the Pipehead at Frank Street — an ‘historic corridor’ in New South Wales’ public health history.

Once underground piping was installed to move water between the dam in Prospect and Sydney Water’s Pipehead at Guildford, the state government in-filled the dis-used water canal and created a cycleway/walkway.

Lower Prospect Canal Reserve cycleway

As you ride along the route, you’ll come across sections that have not be in-filled — this allows cyclists and pedestrians to move safely under roadways and other infrastructure.

Cycleway located under the Gipps Road (Boothtown) Bridge — The water canal was not in-filled at this location.
Lower Canal at Greystanes — 1958 — Photo Credit: Tony Maston

The highlight of the ride along the Lower Prospect Canal Reserve is the trip over the Boothtown Aqueduct at Greystanes. The bridge was created to move water across a valley, from west to east, by using gravity. Opened in 1888 as part of the Upper Nepean Scheme, the aqueduct required expensive repairs and stopped operating in 1908.

In the 1990s the state government decommissioned the Lower Canal, and was planning to demolish the Boothtown Aqueduct, but the Western Sydney Cycle Network and the community successfully lobbied to have the bridge re-purposed.

Of interest to cyclists is that the Lower Canal, also once called the Sydney Water Supply Canal, dropped just 77 centimetres over its 7.7 kilometre length — this allowed gravity to move the water slowly — which means if you ride this cycleway from the west to east, broadly speaking, you would be riding down hill which would require less effort.

This cycleway is used by thousands of people each day and is an easy ride. We highly recommend it. At only one stage along the route do you need to cross a road — and that’s located at the western end — on the Prospect Highway, near the Boral Quarry.

Along the cycleway you’ll find plaques detailing the history of the water canal which is protected by a state heritage listing. The in-fill is reversible.

Tip: If you’re wanting to access this cycleway from Sydney, catch a train to Guildford. Then exit the railway station on the eastern side. Ride 400 metres south along Railway Terrace till you get to the water pipes, then cross to the western side of the rail line. Follow the sign to Blacktown along the Trenton Road cycleway — this will lead you to the Pipehead at Guildford.

#BoothtownAqueduct #Prospect #Greystanes #Guildford

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