Wednesday 30 April 2014

Bradford on Avon Wednesday 30 April 2014

First the good news, yesterdays 24 hr rain fall was less than 1mm so hopefully the rivers will start dropping again to their normal levels.
Last night was the best sunset for some little time, we were out walking and didn’t have a camera with us, but as the sun dropped away it was just a big red ball in the sky.

This morning we woke to thick fog which didn’t clear until we leftDSCF5355  at 10 am. We only had one swing bridge  and no locks to negotiate today, but was probably the hardest bridge all trip.DSCF5356 You may recall I mentioned that these bridges are locked in the closed position for boaters by a large bolt on a chain, the head of the bolt is the same size as a standard windless used for the lock, so no need for a spanner.DSCF5329  We often find these only hand tight but in 2008 a young girl lost her legs due to youths playing with a swing bridge. A report of the accident by the Guardian newspaper is available on line Here.

Several of the bridges have stop gates set in under them, the reason for this is so that if they get a breach on the canal the gates can be closed at each end of the section where the breach is to stem the water flow, without then the whole 6 miles of canal would drain. I don’t think they would be much use if called for today.DSCF5361

We stopped at The Boatyard by bridge 166 to fill up with diesel at 80p/lt for domestic, the best price I have seen in a long time and I could even pay on my credit card. I had hoped for a pumpout but unfortunately their pump is U/S at the moment. I had actually used less diesel than I had expected so far.

After leaving them there are really a lot more moored boats about and the first 48hr mooring we came to someone had removed all the 48hr signs so I was not even sure it was the visitor moorings until we had passed. We carried on into Bradford on Avon and have moored just passed bridge177 on the 48 hr moorings. It is very hand for Sainsbury’s who are just over the bridge, the down side is some chap painting his boat under the bridge and has been running a generator all day and using a power sanded. I can now see why the girl moored behind us moved down a few spaces when she returned to her boat this afternoon.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Semington Tue 29 April 2014

Last night we walked the whole 281 yards up to The Three Magpies for dinner and were greeted with a warm welcome andDSCF5320 good service, several beers, we tried a couple and a nice freshly cooked meal. We managed to miss the rain returning to the boat between showers. In the past 24 hrs we had 7.2 mm of rain, that reading was taken at 10 am this morning.

We waited until the rain stopped before backing up to the water point and filling the tank, finally setting of at 1045 hrs in light drizzle, The weather was quite changeable with the coat going on and off at regular intervals.
This chap stopped grazing and gave me the eye as we went passed, I think he is a Lama but he was the only one in the field with a few sheep.DSCF5323

The Canal and Rivers Trust had issued an alert to say that there was work ongoing at lock 17 so the canal level above the lock would be lowered. They had probably only dropped it by 18” but we dragged the bottom, quite hard at times between lock 18 and 17 so really a bit of dredging is called for.DSCF5326

The swing bridges along here seemed to work quite well and Diana has been able to operate them all without help. some have been reduced to just footpath width and some are still full width with the old steel decks, this one has had a bit of extra ballast added at one end just to trim it up.DSCF5328

In recent years Semington has had a bypass and the canal passes over the road on an aqueduct. It was only opened 10 years ago. I wonder if they had a party last month to celebrate.DSCF5338  For some reason this aqueduct has a divider in the centre of the canal,  I have a feeling the one on the GU over the North Circular is the same. I am not sure the keep right signs are really required but I suppose they had to put some sort of marking at each end. DSCF5339

Just down the canal from here are some very smart dry and wet docksDSCF5352 with a fair sized pump out front to empty them which looks as if its powered with a 3 cylinder Lister diesel.DSCF5351  

We moored for the night just below where the Wilts and Berks Canal use to come in, it was just between the trees on this photograph.DSCF5347

The rails are still in place over what use to be a bridge over the entrance to the Wilts and Berks canal and they look as if someone split a length of rolled “I” beam down with a wavy cut to make the top rail.DSCF5349We are actually moored right beside where it will come in when the restoration is completed, as they well be moving the new route slightly west terminating in a marina. At the moment its only a 24 hr mooring I expect we will be gone by when the want to dig through. I am pleased to report that the grass has not re-grown where HRH Duchess of Cornwall cut the first sod of the restoration.DSCF5346

   map semington Today’s map.

Monday 28 April 2014

Sell’s Green Monday 28 April 2013

For any of you interested in the rain fall we clocked another 10mm yesterday and its now raining again.

Yesterday afternoon a boat moored ahead of us and we helped them squeeze in,  we had moored close to the boat behind, but he had since left which resulted in us sitting in the middle of about 170ft of mooring. They were a Canadian couple and we got chatting as we eased back a foot and arranged to go down the flight together at 9am this morning.
taking a walk down to the locks we passed this boat with an interesting paint job, the other side is different.

DSCF5293 It’s not vinyl but all hand painter. It is for sale on Appoloduck http://www.apolloduck.co.uk/print.phtml?id=340118

This morning I looked out and sitting on the work flat that was moored opposite  was the biggest Brown Rat I have seen in a long time. By the time I got the camera he was slipping off and swimming up the canal.

The plan was to leave at 9am but we saw our looking partners at about 8 and they said they would be ready for the off at 8-30am if were, so that is when we went. We met a boat in the third lock down who must have left the moorings outside The Black Horse that morning as the flight is locked overnight.DSCF5307

We arrived at lock 44, the top of the straight part of the hill at 0943 and this was the view as we looked down to what lay ahead of us. A lot of murk and light drizzle.DSCF5308

The locks had a good growth of small mussels in most of them and one a luxurious covering of weed, but looking back this one ended up with a small Perch on the upper cill.DSCF5309

It wasn’t long before we were at Lock 28, we exactly 2 hour and looking back up things were a little cleared.DSCF5311 We had just watched the pair of boats behind us come through lock 28, we were in 29 and they closed the gates behind them.

We were told at the top of the flight by one of the volunteers at the top of the flight that you can’t get 2 boats out of lock 38 together, unfortunately we forgot which lock number they said, but I am pleased to report you can get two boats out side by side, but probably not with fenders down. A bit further down we met a wide beam hotel boat “ Wessex Rose”  coming up,DSCF5313 slight problem, no one told the steerer we were in the lock so when the gates opened there she was, but she soon slipped back as you can see and we were away down to Foxhangers. When we opened the bottom gates the boat yard were playing shuffle the hire boat, so we waited until they had finished before proceeding, We said goodbye to our Canadian Locking palls, Keith and Paula who stopped at the marina, it was about four and a quarter hours since we left our moorings in Devizes. We carried on down to Sell’s Green visitor moorings where we called it a day on the 48hr mooring and had lunch.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Devizes Sunday 27 April 2014

Last night we ate in The Barge Inn, this is a pub that does food,DSCF5274 not a restaurant that serves beer. The menu is limited but what they do, they do well. It is definitely a colourful place to eat and drink. They have live music on a Saturday night but it doesn't start till 9pm or later so you can eat, drink and chat if you want to before it starts. Some of the outfits being worn by the clientele were shall we say interesting. Well we eat there again, YES.

Today started bright but soon it started drizzling and by the time we reached Devizes it was chucking it down, we had 4.5mm of rain yesterday, we have nearly had that much today already. After filling with water, the water point is near the end of theDSCF5275 piled mooring, not a dedicated mooring for water, we were off at 10 am.

We passed an interesting looking converted barge as we made our way along in weak sunshine so to be drizzle. I just love the lines of that transom. This is not an original K&A barge that has been converted but a replica built by RLL boats from steel, the original was oakDSCF5277 

There are a few swing bridges along this section all pivoted on the offside  to give clear access for a horse tow line. However British Waterways has provided very good off side mooringsDSCF5282 where you can tie up to work the bridges, It would be so useful if CaRT could do something like this along the South Oxford canal. As we pushed on we passed another White Horse cut into the DSCF5287hills. I am not sure what the people are doing,  sorry about the pylon but I had to snap it through a gap in the hedge, In places the reeds are encroaching well into the canal, its about 15ft wideDSCF5284 here so just slightly wider than some of the boats that regularly use this waterway.

DSCF5285The owner of the offside moorings obviously has a sense of  humour, he has erected signs at each approach requesting that you slow down and then part way along he has put this one up, I didn’t notice one in the opposite direction.

As we came into Devizes we were welcomed by this display in one of the gardens, just after we passed it I spotted a chap in aDSCF5291 lifejacket waving to what I guessed to be the trip boat coming in the other direction on a blind bend. It seems that were having a training day and were going to wind right on that corner as its a bit wider there. It would have been slightly easier if they had held back until I was round the corner rather than coming straight ahead and putting their bow into the apex ready to drive the stern round. At this point the skys opened and we carried on into the town to moor on the first vacant visitor mooring we came to. If the weather improves we may have a look round and move later, if not we will just stay here and go down the flight first thing in the morning, that is forecast to be the period of lightest rain.

If you would like to know more about the building of the Kennet and Avon canal follow this link for Hungerford virtual museum.

Devizes Map Today’s Map

Saturday 26 April 2014

Honey Street, Saturday 26 April

We had a pleasant walk round the village yesterday evening after the rain cleared up. A high percentage of the properties are thatched and quite old. We had yet more rain over night giving a total of 14.5mm in 24 hrs.

This morning started bright but has been very mixed, we set of at 10 in light drizzle but within 20 minutes we had not only had light rain, but heavy rain and even a bit of hail as well as some sun.DSCF5243 

All the boats we met today were wide beam, some of them hire boats from Moonraker canal Boats at Honey Street.

There are several disused locks along this stretch all that we have seen have been under bridges,DSCF5246 others may have been removed completely of course.

There was a small collection of boat moored at Pewsey Wharf but the ones on the water point were taking water, one think I haveDSCF5248 noticed is that quite often there are not dedicated water point moorings and the tap is just on the visitor moorings, like at Honey St. and Wootton Rivers.

Bowden’s Bridge is a rather rickety looking suspension bridgeDSCF5254 crossing the canal near Wilcot, but it is only a foot bridge and I don’t think there is any public access. I couldn’t quite make out the manufacturers name.DSCF5253

There was quite a nice show of Bluebells on the offside where this bridge lands and I expect that the woods are left quite undisturbed.DSCF5251 This is part of the Stowell estate and its due to its owners the Wroughtons that Wide water  and Lady’s BridgeDSCF5268 were constructed, as when the canal was proposed to pass through their estate they objected and demanded a “Lilly Pond DSCF4802and stone bridge plus a cash settlement for it to go ahead.

It was on Wide Water where a Cob Swan objected to a pair of Canada Geese trying to set up home and he pointed out to them quite forcefully that they should find somewhere else to live, unfortunately the pore old Heron who was minding his own business got caught up in the skirmish.DSCF5265 It wasn’t far from here where we planned to more for the night right outside The Barge Inn at Honey Street. As many of you will know this pub is a famous meeting place for people investigating “Crop Circles”, but before we reached there we had a stunning view of the “White Horse” on the hill side.DSCF5273

We arrived at the moorings to find enough room for about three Narrowboats at 1 o’clock and it wasn’t a moment to soon as it was soon raining hard again with the wind gusting at 30 mph.

honey street mapToday’s Map

Friday 25 April 2014

Wootton Rivers Friday 25 April 2014

It started raining about 7 am this morning and apart from a short break at 10 30am when we were daft enough to set off it has rained all day. We have now had over an inch this week.

About 3mm of rain had fallen by 10 30am when it started to brighten so we set off. It wasn’t long before we were entering Bruce Tunnel.DSCF5230 The stone plaque above the entrance is eligible now due to weathering. The one beside it not much better due to vandalism.DSCF5232 I do wish I could naturally hold the camera straight, sorry.

Inside the tunnel the old chain is still in place that was used to pull the un-motorised barges through, this is not to be confused by the modern chains mounted near water level below the wooden rubbing board for safety reasons.DSCF5234

When we left the tunnel it was throwing it down with rain, the other thing that had changed was the railway was now on the other side of the canal, crossing over on top of the tunnel, which make you wonder how thick the top of the tunnel is, because the railway is not that high above the canal.

Just after the tunnel exit is Burbage Wharf with its restored (rebuilt) wooden crane which was the last of many like this found on the K&A. DSCF5239 It was removed and rebuilt at Claverton Pump museum by volunteers. The only original piece is the two ton counter weight. It was planned to have the work done for the bicentenary of the opening of the canal in 2010,  but it was not finished until 2012. The original was built in 1831 and I bet it didn’t take them over 5 years to do it.
We carried on in the rain to Wootton Rivers visitor moorings where we pulled over until the weather improved.

map wooton river Today’s route

Thursday 24 April 2014

Top of Crofton Thu 24 April 2014

Yesterday evening between the rain showers we walked into Froxfield to look at Somerset Hospital, this is now sheltered accommodation for women over 55 years old DSCF4792  

We had quit a bit of rain overnight and the trains didn’t disturb us so much, maybe we are getting use to them.

This morning CaRT started work dead on 8am putting more soil on the off side bank behind the coir rolls. The boat they are using seems to reverse like a pig and it took him some time to get down the pond into position.DSCF5203

We were away at 0945hrs and the weather was improving nicely. Little Bedwyn lock lays very close to the railway and the foot bridge crosses first the canal and then the line. The train is neverDSCF5205 far from the canal, so you just have to live with it.

We stopped at Great Bedwyn to take on water and then go for a walk around the village. The Cross Keys pub is closed at the moment but says its expecting new management, but who knows when. We walked round to the stone museum but the site is up for sale as a housing plot. The old museum is now The Post Office which is next door to the site and is covered in old stone works.DSCF4796 

As we left the moorings after lunch a boat left the service point just ahead of us so we were able to team up for the next 4 lock. This is the first time we have shared since we were on the Thames. Great Bedwyn has a church with an interesting tower which is the only bit you can see from the canal.DSCF5211

The other boat was only going as far as Crofton Pumping stationDSCF5215 so it was there that we said our good by and continued on up to the summit alone. As we worked our way up the flight, leaving each chamber empty as we went a kite kept a close eye on us circling round and round. As you can see it has a broken feather.DSCF5218

Once at the top of the flight we looked for somewhere to moor for the night. We made our first attempt just passed this familyDSCF5226 but couldn’t get anywhere near the edge. There were two boats moored along this section, the first in nice and close, but the second a S M Hudson boat had his bum hanging out. As  we passed he called out that if we went through the bridge we wouldn’t have a hope of mooring, so we backed up and moored between the two with our bum hanging out as well, but at least from here we could jump ashore at the bows.Map Croften top Today’s Map