Boats heading along the Kennet and Avon Canal near Wootton Rivers on Sunday found their way blocked by a large tree that had toppled across the waterway, blocking it entirely.

The tree came down at a location known as Carrel Crown Bridge, about 400 metres to the west of Wootton Rivers lock.

Boat traffic between Wootton Rivers and Wilcot came to a complete standstill for 24 hours until Monday morning when British Waterways workers were able to clear some branches, creating a gap big enough for narrow boats to get through.

A spokesman for British Waterways said on Monday: “We had a gang out this morning and they removed parts of the tree so that a narrow boat could get through with care although there was probably not enough room for broad beam boats to get through.”

A barge-mounted crane was sent to the scene early on Monday afternoon to enable the larger sections of tree to be removed and the canal to be completely re-opened by the end of the afternoon.

The BW spokesman said: “With 2,000 miles of canals to maintain up and down the country it is not unusual for a tree to fall or get blown down across one of the canals.

“We acted as quickly as possible to get this fallen tree removed and we apologise to the boaters and other canal users for any inconvenience caused.”

Benji and Inga Ericksson from Stockholm and their three children who are cruising from Reading to Bath were among the boaters delayed by the fallen tree and they moored up their charter boat for 24 hours until the canal was open again.

Mrs Ericksson said: “It has delayed us by a day but it did not matter because we were able to tie up in some lovely countryside and we were only a few minutes from the lovely pub in Wootton Rivers.”