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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Onward up,Father Thames

We left our peaceful overnight mooring to a sunny morning, the Thames is so wide compared to our last navigation down the Kennet and Avon, but this means we can ope the throttle and increase our speed from the normal 4 MPH to 8 MPH and this eats ups the miles. 
Straight away we have Whitchurch lock to negotiatate but with the help of a lockeeper so very easy, pass Basildon park and Beale wildlife trust with its collection of endangered species of birds and its collection of model boats.

Goring lock with its village is next passed, then Cleeve lock before the Thames open up to lovely countryside and it lovely houses whith manicured gardens down to the Thames, as we said before we wonder who and how the owners can afford these mansions?
We then reach Wallingford and moor just pass the bridge with its 17 arches, the town its self has an array of shops, pubs and restaurants. I go and have my hair cut as it was getting a bit long then we clean the boat and settle down for the night again.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Another canal finished

Up this morning and it's grey and cold, anyway we take on some water, and then we have to wait till after 09.00 am to lift the mechanically operated lift bridge so we can carry on pass Aldermaston Wharf.
The navigation remains close to the railway and the A4 road for a few miles.
Onwards pass Tyle mill and then it's the gravel pits that has now been turned into lakes  which are nature reserves and home to water activities.
More locks and swing bridges to operate, and then it started to rain and didn't it rain we were both soaked before we had a chance to put on our wet weather clothes, under the m4 we travel as we make our way into Reading, the currents are strong and the boat is whizzing along, make some turns a bit scary.
Then we need to push the traffic light button so that we can enter the fast flowing part of the canal,as it goes through the middle of reading with its plenty of pubs and restaraunts, then a couple of more locks and that's the Kennett and Avon Canal finished.
Back on the Thames and we stop by the handy Tescos for more provisions, and then distaster as the camer dropped out of my pocket bounced in the deck and the plummeted into the water never to be seen again, so no pictures today, though I still couldn't use them as I have no data left on my SIM card.
We carry on up the Thames and pass through two locks which have lockeepers on them so are a bit easy before we stop and moor at Pangbourne meadow, a bit late tonight but it's dinner and settle down in front of the fire for the night, and yes indid say fire as the last tonight it's gone really cold.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

On towards the Thames

So off we set again, our first lock is right in the middle of Newbury it follows its course with Victoria Park on one side and the old wharf on the other. Their is also a collection of old warehouses  and old stone buildings a relic of the old days.
The canal now runs through water meadows as it runs towards the rapidly expanding village of Thatcham, locks and swing bridges slow our progress, it's really makes a difference if the locks are in your favour but unfortunately today not one of them is. So it's stop the boat, get off fill the lock, open the gates, let the boat enter the lock shut the gate, open the other paddles to let the water out, open the gate move the boat out and then shut the gate.
Open countryside again as we carry on towards Woolhampton whith its tricky lock with a weir pushing the boat to one side and forward and then a swing bridge to hamper our progress .
We reach Aldermaston and decide to call it a day and moor up for the nightstand the same place as we moored on our trip a few weeks ago.
Keeping it short as our data plan for the Internet has been used so using my iPhone to upload this and will add pictures next week when my allowance kicks in .

Monday, 27 April 2015

Reluctany on to Newbury

Sunday we didn't move as we were on a 48hr mooring, luckily we made the push for Hungerford as one of the locks had to be closed so it could be repaired, the couple we shared the Caen Hill flight with let us know as they were stuck there, and no movement to at least Tuesday.
Anyway we left our mooring and stopped briefly to take on water, before on our way again, pretty woods on one side keep us company as we cruise a long, the river Kennet accompanies the canal past Dunmill lock  and we have a great view of Denford mill as we pass the village of Avington. 

The railway and the river are with us as we head to Kintbury, we were going to moor here but unable to do as no mooring space, it looks like the same boats are here as when we passed a couple of weeks ago, also a boat moored on the water point which is a no no.
As we leave Kintbury we come across a barge being towed by a Horse this is how the Narrowboats used to be powered in the old days , the horse was called Freddy.

So we carry on as we moan to ourselves about over stayers and head towards Newbury,this part of the canal is particularly attractive stretch, wooded rolling hills flank th waterway to the southas it passes through Drewetts Copse and Hamstead lock.
Then it's extensive water meadows and then we pass under the bridge of the bypass road then the canal has houses facing the canal and it's by here that we moor for the night.
Denise gives the boat a clean while I take a trip to the town centre  as part of our TV aerial had broken unfortunley we had to buy the whole aerial instead of the little part which we needed.
Back to the boat and we settle down for the night.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Off to Hungerford

Rain has been promised, but as we set off its dry, but very grey skies, we leave our mooring by the pumping station and the main rail line on our left is our companion for a while but again open countryside on our right hand side. fourteen locks we must negotiate today but not all together.
At our first lock unfortunately has a dead swan in it, so I pull it out of the water and put in the bushes by the side of the lock, after watching Bear Gryls on the television I did think of skin it and having it for Sunday lunch.
The villages of Great and Little Bedwyn are passed by still the Wilts railway line keeps us companion with its frequeny roar of high speed train flying pass. If you wold stop at Great Bedwyn  you could pay  the Stone Museum a visit, which include in its collection work from seven generations of stonemasons.
There are statues, tombstones, amusing plaques and a fossilised footprint of a dinosaur.
Froxfield is the next village to cruise by with is main feature The Somerset Hostpital founded by the Duchess of Somerset in 1694.
Then it's open country side and at Picketsfeild bridge the railway cross the canal and isn't seen again for a while, at Hungerford Marsh lock, right in the middle of the lock is a swing bridge, so not only have we got to operate the lock we must also swing the bridge out of the way so we can pass.
Then it a few more locks before we reach Hungerford , we thought that we would struggle to get a mooring but to our surprise it was quite empty. So we moor up have a bit of lunch and then off to the local Tescos to stock up before dinner and television.

On the note of the TV we been having problems tuning in the television and found out the aerial connection is broke so we had to resort to our old aerial  which worked fine.
No movement tomorrow as rain is promised.

Friday, 24 April 2015

A long day

Off we set again we take on water at the wharf in Devizes the canal now enter a long wooded cutting spanned by several elegant stone bridges, some are listed as ancient monuments. Houses with their well kept gardens that run to the canal edge  and the canal carries on to the landscape of the Wiltshire Wolds.

 Bishop  Cannings  church tower comes into view, and rolling hills climb steeply to the North while pastures fall away to the South. The canal is lock free following the co tours of the land, pass the village of All Cannings  and Honeystreet, with the 1812 white horse carving in the distant hill.
Next the villages Alton Priors, Woodsborough and Wilcot are passed by.

The countryside is very English with farmland and rolling countryside, next Pewsey with its wharf and canal side pub drift by as we aren't stopping for a while today, Wootton Rivers with it thatched cottages, then we start the first of our locks, four more before we reach Bruce tunnel, then we reach Crofton top lock then another six before we reach tonight's mooring spot, a lot later than we are usually moored up, but should mean that we will have an easier day tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Lock after lock after lock and so on

Up early today and we and our fellow boater Stephen and Julie off the narrowboat Greyfisher wait for the lock keeper to unlock the bottom lock of the Caen Hill Flight.p
8.00 o'clock he unlock it and off we set, thats it for the next 29 locks, luckily for us all of the locks are in our favour, and we only meet three boats that are coming down. So we climb 234 ft in just over two miles, with the help of this marvelous piece of engineering.

Four hours later we are at the top, so we moor up for the night while our lock sharing friends carry on up the canal, as it dinner time I pop to the local Greggs bakery and get us a couple of pasties for lunch, then we get changed and go for walk around Devizes with a bit of shopping as well.
It's market day and the noise and hustle and bustle of the market are an assault on our senses after the quietness of the canal.
Devizes is a pretty market town, with wool being the dominating trade from the 14th to 18th century, brewing started in 1786 and the Brewers Wadworth  and co carry on the tradition today, where one can have a tour of the brewery, the Market cross recounts the story of Ruth Pierce whom the Almighty struck down dead after she lied about paying for some wheat.

We then head back to the boat to sit in the afternoon sun, as its promised that the weather is going to change for the worse tomorrow, hopefully not.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Back to the bottom of Caen hill locks

We were up early and the sun is shining again, a lock greets us first and once we are through this we are in Bradford Basin, again a long line of moored boats so we move a a slow tick over pace. We leave the residential area and once again in countryside, we have fine views over the Avon valley, to the west is the village of Hilperton, we have a few locks and heavy swing bridges to negotiate as we ascent to Devizes,

 the canal is crossed by the busy A350 more locks  and swing bridges before we reach the bottom of Caen Hill locks we operate another eight locks before we moor and where we are going to meet narrowboat Greyfisher and their crew Stephen and Julie,who we have arranged to share the next set of locks tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Passed Moored boats again

We leave last nights quite mooring it's sunny but a bit chilly,, we then stop to take on some water, and off we set again open countryside which turns into a thickly wooded stretch as it passes Claverton with its village, Manor House and it's pumping station which pumps water from the Avon to the canal.
Now a side cutting takes the canal towards Dundas Aqueduct, with its junction for the Somerset Coal Canal.

The Aqueduct crosses over the valley with its main railway line set below, and the pass the village of Limpy Stoke which is scattered over the valleys side, the navigation runs through thick woods clinging to steep banks until the countryside opens on its approach tomAvoncliff Aqueduct, here we squeeze pass another boat, but unfortunlay one of my fender holder fittings hit the side of the canal and comes off, lost in the still water of the canal.

Then we are on the approach to Bradford upon Avon, where we stop and moor up for the day and sit and w arch the energetic runners, cyclist and dog walkers go by while we sit and soak up the sun.

We are contacted by text by the couple who we shared the Caen hill locks with a few ago asking if we want to meet and share the locks again as we go up on Thursday, which we readily  agreed with, anything to make life easier 

Monday, 20 April 2015

On to Bathampton

We leave our mooring this morning but turn around and head towards Bristol again, only  a short while though as there is a handy Sainsburys by the side of the river, so we stop and  it a bit of food shopping before returning  to the boat and then head towards Bath.
One for my Mum as we walked up the path towards Saisbury Mr Ratty was sitting on the path.
He soon ran away as we approached.

At Bath bottom lock the canal joins the river, and then it's the  Wildcombe flight of locks to negotiate, luck has it that a lock keeper is on hand to help, luckily as one of the deepest lock at 19.5 ft deep is next.

Once we are pass the locks the canal is flanked with houses on one side but with magnificent views over Bath on the other. The canal then goes under a tunnel with Clevanand house home to the old canal headquarters which is perched above, in the roof of the tunnel is a hole where in the old days of paying tolls to use the canal a basket would be dropped down so payment could be made.

Beyond this tunnel another cutting carries the waterway pass two pretty cast iron bridges, another ornate bridge with Sydney gardens on the side of the canal, then we are out of Bath and into the countryside and unfortunately the long line of moored boats that never seem to move even though most of them are on 48 hrs moorings.

Anyway it's not long before we are in the lovey Bathampton a village that is still compact and undeveloped , but gradually becoming a suburb of Bath.

A little fact of Bathampton is here is something that all of in our childhood have played with.......................    Plastecine 
William Harbutt invented it here, plus it was also produced here

Sunday, 19 April 2015

And Turn

We get up this morning after a bit of a noisy night with drunken revellers singing and making a noise till about 4.30 am, but saying that we have been very impressed with Bristol Harbour, as said before it's very vibrant and with the different array of boats to look at we have enjoyed our stay in the harbour.


Anyway we have breakfast and off we set the weather has changed a bit as its grey and colder, we cruise pass SS Great Britain and stop to take on some water, then we travel to the other end of the harbour and call into the Harbour Masters Office and pay for a couple of tokens for a pump out, then we are back on the boat and stop for the pump out and then we leave the harbour and on to the feeder canal befor we stop at Netham lock and await for John the lockeeper to open the lock as the spring tide is making the river high at the moment.

It's not long and we are allowed to carry on up the Avon, we are retracing our waves which we did last week. 
We can make good time on the river, and a few more locks and hours cruiseing and we reach our mooring at Bath. 
If you have never visited Bath before please do as it had so much to offer if you click the link it will tell what you are missing.We aren't doing the tourist bit as we had a few previous weekends visits.

Here we moor and then have a nice roast dinner before settling down for the night.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A few days of traveling between different countries.


We left our isolated mooring early, and make good progress towards Bristol as we are on the river Avon and can speed a little bit faster than we can on the canals. We are the only boat on the river not one boat passed us last night nor this morning, we operate and go through Keynsham lock and then at Hanham lock we are stopped by the lock keeper who asked us to ring Nentham lock to see if we can proceed, I spoke to the lock keeper who asked us to stay where we were as its Spring tide, but to ring him again in a half an hour. We duly ring him and are told to proceed, which we do as I travel towards the lock the engine can feel the pull of the tide.
It's about an hour before we reach Netham lock where we go through the lock and moor as we need to see the lock keeper and pay for a Liscence as this part of the river is owned by Bristol Authority and not Canal and river trust. the lock keeper, John is very helpful and informative and tell us where the best  mooring spots are in Bristol Floating Harbour.
We proceed down the feeder canal before entering the Floating harbour proper,and what a harbour with loads of different types and classes of boats and al hive of activity.
After a few attempts deciding where to moor we eventually come to the desicion to moor where a lot of bars and restaurants are situated, the reason being is that the mooring space is on a floating pontoon behind a code access gate,and as we are going home for the night then this seemed the safer option.
So we moor get changed before locking up the boat and then walking to the train station, we arrive buy our ticket rush to the platform as our train to Cardiff, Wales was due, got there to find that the train had been cancelled.......

Bloody typical so we wait for another forty minutes for the next train which arrives but not enough seats for two train loads of people, luckily we managed to get a couple of seats.
We got back to Cardiff picked up our prescription before going home, everything was fine at home a few bills  to pay which we did before having a lovely bath. The boat has a shower which we use every night, but both of us loves our bath and bliss it was......ahhhhhh
Then Something to eat before settling down for a night of big television, then bed.

Up again early pretty early  a nice bacon sarnie consumed before we locked up our home and caught the bus into the city centre, into the station and no delays today straight onto the train and back to England, then in no time we are back on the boat. the boat was as we left it so we drop of a few things and go for a walk around this vibrant harbour, we stop and have a few shandies, befor going back to the boat and sitting out watching the world go by.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

On to the River Avon

We left our moorings early today, we take on water before setting of proper, again we are on tick over speed due to the long trail of moored boats. First we pass Claverton,, here in the manor is the American Museum in Britain, housing exhibits of American decrorative from the 17-C to mid 19-C. Also  at Claverton is the pumping station which houses a waterwheel which is one of it kind.

The canal  is wooded one side with rolling hills on the other, we now pass the pretty area called Bathampton 

before the  main housing starts of the city of Bath, we have five locks to negotiate through the centre of the city, luckily we are helped by lockeepers as we pass on through. I could spend all day writing about Bath but here's a link.,_Somerset
At the end of the fifth lock we are on the River Avon, and as we cruise the river we meet an obstacle to make us stop. The river is being dredged and they have divers in the water marking the rubbish which has been dumped in it, so far they have lifted ten cars and over 500 shopping trolleys plus other things that people discard so easily.
 We only wait about half an hour till we have an escort of a small boat to manoeuvre through the crafts that are cleaning the river.
 They are going to demolish the bridge that crosses the river next week, so hopefully we will be back before that happens. Onwards we carry on down the river we have a few more locks to operate these locks are big and with heavy gates,  we were going to moor in a marina for a few nights and catch the train home, but I phone the marina and they say that they don't do any overnight mooring even though the guide book and the canal app which we have for the IPad says that they did, lucky we found a mooring for tonight on a floating pontoon.

So we have to Change our plan and go to plan B, we will more than likely moor in Bristol and catch the train from their.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

No movement, visitors are here

 Awoke this morning to the sound of a drone ( a flying camera) high above us, after speaking to the operator we found out that it wa being used to advertise a mansion that's by the basin which is to be put up for sale.
The  operator of the drone was from Newport and I gave him my email and if our boat is in the film footage he will send us a copy.

Today we are not moving as Denise's sister Val and with her husband Tony will paying us a visit, so Denise gives the boat a clean while I finish off the painting which I started yesterday.
 Tony and Val turned up at lunchtime we met them at the canal visitors centre here at the cafe we had a snack and a drink, it's called. the Anglefish restaraunt, the setting and the food are great but the service was really poor, with the server who didn't have one bit of customer service in his whole body. 
Tony and Val then came back to the boat to have a look, then we had a chat and a little walk before they went back home. 

It was really nice to see them and as with the rest of our families we never seem to get enough time to see them.