Saturday 31 May 2014

Newbury Saturday 31 May 2014

Can this notice at Kintbury really be true, can they do what damage they like to the items on top of my boat with impunity?DSCF5778

One thing I mast say that I have been using Waterways Routes  http://www.waterwayroutes.co.uk/ on my I pad this trip and I an quite surprised how useful I have found it. I don’t even normally read guide books. The only thing I need to do is make a weather proof shaded housing for the I pad so I can have it on the slide in all weathers. I may get a GPS dongle so that I can run it on the laptop with the dongle on the roof.

Woke to a lovely sunny morning and were away before 10 am. we met several single boats but non at an ideal time, i.e. just about to leave a lock. They were there 5 minutes out and the lock had to be left empty or had just started emptying it as we arrived etc.  We thought we had struck lucky at the first lock as the gate opened as we approached and there was a boat on the lock mooring. It turned out to be the day boat and they were going the other way. The owner normally gives tuition on that lock to the hires but this lot had been before so weren't going down, still he had got the lock ready for us so that was a bonus. The willow fluff was laying on the water in  the still air. DSCF5781 The offside bush growth comes well across the cut here rubbing the side of a Narrowboat so a wide beam would have to push its way through.DSCF5783 The pound between locks 82 and 83 was much better than when we went up, the chap I had the difference of opinion with at lock 83 is still moored near the bypass bridge, what a surprise. See http://nbharnser.blogspot.com/2014/04/kintbury-tuesday-22-april-2014.html We met the same chap on his bike just after we moored up and I think he recognised Diana as he turned away.

I was leaving lock 84 when I spotted this object laying on the offside bank by the bridge, it looks like two plugs to go into metal pipes on tot of a square metal post with a square plug on the bottom. it looks very substantial, anyone have any ideas what it could be.DSCF5786 The visitor moorings above the Newbury Swing Bridge were all full so I stopped just through Northcroft Foot Bridge which are unrestricted mooring. From here we walked into town to meet up with my grandsons for tea.

map newburyThis is our journey for today.

Friday 30 May 2014

Kintbury Friday 30 May 2014

Firstly, here is yesterdays map as without a 3 mobile signal I was unable to transfer it.map froxfield

Last night was a good mooring just below lock 69, far better than when we went up and moored above the lock, as this section is piled and has deep water right to the edge.

We set off a little bit earlier at 0945 on a sunny morning. We met another of the Bruce Trust boats at the first lock we came to, I think we only met two more after that.

The river flows alongside the canal through a fish farm and some of the water rejoins the canal at this circular weir. DSCF5761Its hard to tell if the river is flowing into the canal or the canal spilling down the weir.

As we arrived at Hungerford Marsh Lock the bottom gates were surrounded by young bullocks, who were so tame they weren't DSCF5765really interested in moving. It made dodging dog poo around locks seem easy.  This lock has a swing bridge crossing it which has to be opened before you can work through the lock. The lever /handle to move it is not at the easiest of heights.DSCF5767 Of course when you come to close it there are bullocks all round the end. There is actually a hock near the end of the bridge which I guess the old boatmen would have used to close the bridge as they drove out when going down hill. DSCF5769The bridge was very easy to move with a rope round it. 

We had planned to stop at Hungerford but we had not been going long enough to charge the batteries. We did moor against the green in town for a while and after lunch Diana went into Tesco’s for a bit of shopping. I walked up and met her there to help carry it back to the boat. We then pushed off for Kintbury.

We stopped just below Hungerford to fill with water, there is also supposed to be rubbish disposal here but that has now been removed. A little further on we passed this large bunch of wild flowers. We are not sure what they are.DSCF5774

As we approached Brunsdon Lock the towing path is at water level and in some spots below with the canal running into the stream, it is also the shallowest bit we have travelled on for a few day from the progress I was making.DSCF5775

Below the lock there CaRT notices banning mooring from Brunsdon Lock to Vicarage Bridge for towing path repairs although there is no sign of any work going on and there are still a couple of boats moored there. Just before the bridge in front of the Vicarage there is a well used Duck House.DSCF5776

As we approached the visitor moorings they all looked pretty full but then I spotted a space just long enough for us. Once in I noticed a CaRT notice saying this spot was reserved for their work boats. They haven’t bashed much of the vegetation down if they have been using this spot for a month.DSCF5777

So as a special treat you have two maps today, the one below is today’s journey.map Kintbury

Thursday 29 May 2014

Froxfield Thursday 29 May 2014

Yesterday evening we had some cross our front deck, they were with the Bruce Trust boat Diana and we thought they were coming to moor directly in front of us, and got it a bit wrong, however they carried on down the cut to moor just before the next lock. A short while later the skipper, who just happened to also come from Suffolk knocked on the door and apologised for his crew explaining that their main drive coupling had failed going up the flight and that they had pulled her down backwards and winded directly behind us. They had had an engineer out and were now awaiting someone from the firm that made the coupling and would we please come down and join them for a cup of tea. Which we did.

Needless to say it rained on and off all afternoon and night, it was still drizzling this morning when we set off at 1030hrs. The “Diana” was still there but the engineer had been out and was coming back to fix it.

As we made our way down the canal the weather improved and was even sunny at times. We met one or two working boats on the way.

At Crofton bottom lock on the approach to the bridge there are a series of concrete bollards, I assumed these to be a war time addition to limit movement of invading tanks etc. across the canal, but looking at them more closely they are two preformed concrete sewer pipes filled with concrete. Did they have concrete sewer pipes pre war? DSCF5751You can also see another of those nice cast fencing posts, but the wire winders are missing on this one.

I pulled over at Great Bedwyn for Diana to dump some rubbish but she didn’t take the BW key with her and the rubbish compound was locked. I did spot this old lorry parked there as I dropped her off DSCF5754 

At Little Bedwyn lock there is a notice on the lock beam asking you to wait 20 minutes for another boat to save water, if you were going up then the lock would fill in 20 minutes the speed the water was coming in at the top end and you would just end up wasting a lock full anyway.DSCF5756 We carried on down to below Froxfield Middle lock and moored for the night against some piling, not much of that round these parts. I wandered down the towpath with the Ipad trying to pick up a BT hotspot without any luck, I am connected with the lap top thanks to my external booster. As I returned to the boat a chap was noting our number in his little book, so I engaged him in conversation, mistake, I was there for the next half hour. It turned out he was from the Reading and District Angling Association who have just acquired the fishing rights for this section and he was keeping record how long boats were mooring for, telling me that one in the next pound had been there for 100 days.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Crofton Pumping Station Wed 28 May 2014

Bit of a disturbed night last night, the boat behind us that had plonked its self right in the centre of the moorings in front of the water point so using two spaces up, had its crew return from the pub and start their on deck petrol generator up, it was still running a 3 am. this morning.

We set off at 9 45 am as hire boat came up the lock behind us and we shared with them all the way to Crofton Pumping station, where we stopped and they carried on. They were well experienced with two couples on board which made things go very smoothly. We met one or two boats coming the other way including one at the far end of the tunnel where they waited for us to exit. I am sure there is room for two Narrowboats to pass in this tunnel but you have to be 100% sure that the boat in the tunnel is not a wide beam.

The organisers of the Devizes to Westminster canoe race have been through the tunnel and removed all the expired chemical light sticks that they hung there for the canoe race last month. Well done them.

There were two volunteers assisting boats on the Crofton flight who were in contact with each other by radio and were able to advise each other of boat movements to and from locks, not only that but they were both boaters.

After a bit of lunch we visited the old pump house again and took one or two photos and some information that I had missed on Monday when it was in steam. Details on my other blog HERE

map Crofton

Today’s Route

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Bank Holiday weekend

Friday 23 May

We moved the boat from Devizes to All Cannings in the rain, in the 5 times we have passed All Cannings and its always been empty, today because we wanted to stop as that is where we had agreed to meet our friends it was full. I tied on to the last ring and put a pin in for the bows. once I was back onboard we adjusted the ropes to be parallel to the bank and we couldn’t reach the shore. About half an hour later a stem launch left the moorings so we were able to move back into their space.

Since we have been here there have been several light showers and quite a bit of sun.

Friday evening and our friends arrived, it was to late to start cruising so we went down to the pub in All Cannings for a couple of pints and dinner. The pub was absolutely packed, so some pubs are getting it right.


Saturday 24 May

Change of plan, we needed to buy some power steering fluid for our friends, so instead of  travelling east as planed, I reversed the half mile to the winding hole and we headed to Devizes for the day. It rained all the way there but cleared up just as we moored before the locks.DSCF5235 Taking a walk down the locks we passed the nice little steam launch who’s mooring we took when they moved on from All Cannings yesterday.DSCF5231

Departing late afternoon to moor at The Bridge Inn,Horton for the night, another Wadsworth pub with friendly staff and a nice menu. They even sold me some sausages so that weather permitting we can have a BBQ.

Sunday 25 May

The weather is looked a lot better this morning and got better as the day went on, we set of about 9 am heading east towards Crofton Pumping station.

We just had a couple of swing bridges to do and 4 locks, other than that it was just plain sailing.DSCF5680
Pewsey Wharf is offering a bit of competition Charity Wharf with a pair of Manikins set up in a cruiser.


       We arrived at the top of the Crofton flight about 5 pm having watched 13 gliders climbing in the thermals near Bruce tunnel. After winding we moored as close to the bank as possible and took a walk down to the pumping station and back.

As we are nowhere near anywhere, we set the BBQ up to enjoy the sausages I bought in the pub last night. Sitting on the bank enjoying a glass of wine we had a Red Kite coming across theDSCF5690 canal and circling right over our heads. We recognised it as one we saw earlier as we came along due to its missing wing feather.

Monday 26 May we walked down to Crofton Pump museum and spent the morning there. As it was Bank Holiday they were in steam pumping water up to the summit of the canal. DSCF5725The weather was not so kind to us today and it rained all day and most of the night. We returned to the boat for lunch and then set off west to spend the night at Honeystreet having a meal in The Barge Inn. They still have one room decorated showing Stonehenge and the crop circles all the way round the walls.DSCF5734

Tuesday 27 May

Set off from Honeystreet still going west to take our friends back to their car at All Cannings and we were relived to find it safe and sound. After a coffee, transferring all their stuff from the boat to the car we carried on for another half mile to wind just beyond the swing bridge. From here we retraced our steps yet again east and we hope to continue heading east now until we reach the Thames.

Passing Pewsey we could see where CaRT have been using the large stone to backfill behind the soft piling.DSCF5736  It did manage to stay dry,just but has turned chilly so we moored on the visitor moorings at Wootton Rivers, this is a handy mooring as there is also a water point, so we could top up while we were here.

Today has been the busiest so far on the canal and we have seen 20 boats on the move.

map Wootton Rivers 2 We started travelling west then turned round and spent the rest of the day going east.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Devizes Thursday 22 May 2014

Last night was quite a sunset here at Honeystreet and yes there are two white ducks in the photograph. This is just how it came off the card, no photoshop.DSCF5669 However it was the end of a nice day and overnight we had heavy rain.

This morning started fine and we walked round to look at the cafe that is getting the wonderful reviews in Trip Adviser, but can’t comment as we didn’t try it.

We set of west in fine drizzle at 1045 just as the CaRT man was checking the moored boats, its only a 24 hour mooring here in front of the pub. As we travelled west the weather was all over the place from hot sun to cool breeze. At one of the swing bridges Diana was told by a CaRT employee not to tighten the securing bolt on the bridge as not all the boaters have windlasses, he was to late, it was already tight and she told him about the girl catching her legs in one. Obviously these boaters never pass through a lock so can only cruise about 15 miles each way. Mind you the same guy sat in his truck,probably his lunch break while Diana moved the tools he had left leaning against the swing bridge.

As we approached Devizes this was the sky ahead.DSCF5672 Then the big flash of lightning in the distance, it wasn’t long after this that it started to rain. By the time we winded in Devizes and moored almost where we were last week it was chucking it down.


This will be the last blog until after the weekend as we have friends staying and I wont have time to play computers.

The map should be back next week, I had to reset MotionX-GPS back to its factory settings and it erased all the saved routes including today's and yesterdays

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Honey Street Wednesday 21 May 2014

Last night we ate at The Waterside Pewsey. Its a strange place with the restaurant/ bistro downstairs and the pub/bar upstairs, the two connected by an outside stair case. You can eat in ether the bar or the restaurant, we decided to go for the bar which has a lot more atmosphere to it. Good job it was fine as the waitress had to bring our food up the outside steps. The pub is a free house and they had some nice beers on, some on the pump and some straight from the keg. Anyway, both the food and the beer was first class.

This morning I woke early 5-30 and it was thick fog, by the time we were about and ready for the off at 10 am it was bright sunshine, Two CaRT work boats loaded with bags of stone came by before we set off, which was just as well as we wanted to stop at the water point where they had been moored. We could have got in if they had still been there but we would have had to wait for a boat already there to leave. The canal was very quiet, one of the highlights was meeting 8 youngsters in 4 canoes, DSCF5657I would imagine they were heading for the school at Pewsey.As you can see one of them found it easer paddling sitting on top of his watertight plastic storage drum than the seat provided.

We decided to take a walk up Woodborough Hill and managed to get the bow of the boat within jumping distance of the bank.DSCF5659 If it wasn’t for the helicopters it would be a very peaceful spot.

Woodborough Hill is quite famous for their crop circles and you can see some of them in this video, I have my own ideas how they are cause.

Just to prove I did go up there here is a photo of me about toDSCF5226 start down again. The hill is some 671 feet high and one of the highest points in Wiltshire. We stopped here for lunch and then moved on to moor outside The Barge at Honey Street for the night, but tonight we are eating onboard.


I am sorry to say I have been unable to transfer the map so you will just have to look on the Google map to the right of this page.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Pewsey Tuesday 20 May 2014

Bit of a late start this morning due to some telephoning that had to be done. There were quite a few boats on the move in both directions as we were ready to go at 1045 a single boat was just coming up the lock behind us, so we waited a few minutes and travelled with them. We were  lucky meeting boats at the lock and were able to leave all the locks open as we left.

I wonder how much longer this old chain will remain in Bruce tunnel, there is quite a bit still at the east end, but a lot has gone.DSCF5643 I also think to my self as I go through, just how much is there between me and that train crossing the tunnel roof.

Something I have noticed over the past couple of days is that hire companies have started fitting twin head lights to their boatsDSCF5646 which could lead to some confusion when you meet them in tunnels. Of course at Bruce tunnel it could just as easily be a wide beamed boat coming towards you in which case there wouldn’t be room to pass like you would with a Narrowboat, so you have to be pretty sure what is coming before entering the tunnel or you could be doing a bit of backwards.

We stopped for lunch at the end of the summit just before the locks running down to the pumping station before winding and retracing our steps west for a bit. The summit level is down by about 150mm but it wasn’t long before the rain started so that will help, we had several very heavy showers only lasting a short time but if you were caught in one you would be wet.DSCF5654

On my way back through the tunnel alone, Diana walked over the top I spitted something hanging at intervals from the old chain, closer inspection showed these to be chemical light sticks which were probably used in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race. DSCF5651I do find this sort of thing annoying, just like when people put up paper signs directing people to an event and don’t clear them away afterwards. its just litter. I may well try and remove them next time we go through, or maybe I should contact the race organisers? 

Passing the 48 hr mooring at Wootton Rivers there was only one boat there and they had just arrived. There are plenty of water spouts in the side of the lock here, a good reason not to boatDSCF5655 through locks with the side hatches open, you get dirty water on the polished brass on your vintage engine. A short way after this we came across a long Springer Narrowboat across the cut. the boat ahead managed to get round the end of it by going aground in the mud, So I pulled in and re-moored it, It had pulled the stern stake out and it wasn’t one of the short things that chandlers sell, it was a fair piece of iron. Once sorted we were on our way again to moor on the 48 hr moorings at Pewsey, these are not the best in the world but it is a bit deeper and there are a few rings, we found one for the front line but the back end is on a little pin.

map pewsey Today’s map, we started on the pin with a dot in it, went east and then returned passed where we started and continued west to Pewsey.

Monday 19 May 2014

Wootton Rivers Monday 19 May 2014

Last nights mooring was great, no early morning bikers, joggers or walkers. No trains or A roads, good edging and mooring rings.DSCF5620

We set off in bright sunshine again, but that was accompanied by a bit of wind. We were away at our normal 10am start time.

We passed this, I suspect vandalised work boat, the doors were ripped off and the engine and hydraulic pump gone, it just laysDSCF5621 there with what’s left of its doors blowing in the breeze. I don’t know if it belongs to the Canal & River Trust of if it was sold out of the BW fleet.

The White Horse looks so much better in bright sunshine and I even managed to catch a military helicopter passing over its back.DSCF5624

We passed under Ladies Bridge named after the mother andDSCF5627 daughter who lived at Stowell Park and who insisted on Wide Water being created in the canal so it looked like a lake.DSCF5630 I can only assume they use to come down here for their carriage rides or it was the main access to the house as it wouldn’t have been visible from the house.

We had seen this boat moored in a different location on our way down with his homemade woodworking equipment setup on the towpath.DSCF5633

At Pewsey Wharf the trust were offloading a couple of lorry loadsDSCF5636 of ballast ready to load onto their work boats,  they have been working on the bank edge/towpath east of here for some time as there are notices requesting you not to moor in places.

We had planned to moor on the 24 hr visitor moorings just above the lock at Wootton Rivers. I had just entered Wootton Rivers bottom lock and Diana was starting to close the gate when I spotted a boat behind us  so we waited for them to join us. It turned out to be nb. Viscount who we had moored behind at the pub in Seend. If anyone is interested its for sale on Apolloduck  under tugs, it has a 3 cylinder Gardner chugging away in its heart.
Once we cleared the lock we could see all the visitor moorings were occupied and it was only about 2 pm. We did try getting into the bank just above the moorings but no chance, then our luck improved with two boats coming down the next lock so that was set ready for us. Above lock 52 the bank is piled through to lock 53 with nice deep water so we tucked in behind the first boat we came to.

Sunday 18 May 2014

All Cannings Sunday 18 May 2014

Went out this morning to find the road closed, several police cars, an ambulance and two Paramedic cars on the bridge where the towpath changes sides. I had heard the sirens earlier but didn’t realise they were that close. They were there well over an hour but had gone by the time we walked round to Sainsbury's, all that was left was a fair bit of blood on the ground,but what happened I don’t have a clue.

Back after shopping we were waiting for a boat to vacate the water point, a short way behind us on the other side is a public slipway where this little beauty was launched.DSCF5187Once it was free we crossed over to the visitors centre and filled with water, while we were there this chap came by standing in a canoe and paddling with a pole. he said he thought it quite an efficient way to propel a canoe, blades on the end would give to much bit in his opinion.DSCF5599 For those that have been following this journey you will recall on our way here we met the Devizes to Westminster canoe race, well this is where it all begins, right outside the visitors centre.DSCF5601

On the outskirts of Devizes at Coate Bridge there is a tree thatDSCF5605 has several pairs of shoes hanging from it. When I was a boy this was due to the big boys picking on the little boys and you then had to explain to mum why you no longer had any gym shoes. My son tells me that today this is a sign used by the drug pushers to show the patch has been taken.DSCF5607 How times change, I hope you are all having a gay day. It wasn’t long before we caught up with  “Dreadnought” who had been moored in front of us last night as was in the process of overtaking the local trip boat who were on a training exercise.DSCF5609 As we pulled up behind them they held well in and invited us to pass, I suspect they would be winding and heading back at the next winding hole as they have bookings this afternoon and evening.

Devizes marina looks quite a nice place if you are looking for a marina mooring. We passed lots of boats that really should be in DSCF5611there, not lived on but just left moored to the bank for an indeterminate time.

At Bishops Bridge these two canoe owners really didn’t understand the sign I think, there was no sign of them, just the canoes moored to the bollards on the bridge mooring.DSCF5615

We passed the nice little steam boat, the occupants sitting under the hedge in the shade. It had such a beautiful little engine, almost like a model. “Watt” a toy. (sorry)DSCF5197

We continued on through the lovely scenery, this is really a beautiful part of England and this weather makes it all the better.

We didn’t have far to go now as we planned to moor overnight at the All Cannings 48 hr visitor moorings, as we approached it didn’t look good with three Narrowboats already there, but there was room for us behind the far end one. What I didn’t realise was that the middle one had already dropped their ropes and were about to set off, so actually there was loads of room. My task for the afternoon was to change the oil and filter. I used Wilco Classic motor oil for the first time and its a lovely shade of green, just like the old Duckhams use to be, its also one of the few API CC oils available on the high street and a lot cheaper than from the chandlers. I also checked the battery water level, all OK unlike last time I checked them and then tightened the two alternator belts.

When I had finished the boat ahead of us had left so I moved right to the end of the moorings leaving a long length of mooring for anyone arriving later,