|This Month's Totals and Average|
|64.66 miles||72 locks||46.09 hrs||2.97 lmph|
Nice sunny morning, but not too hot. Went for a walk into Bradford. Lovely to see that new buildings have been blended into the old by using similar architecture and stone. Excellent sandwich lunch ashore at "The Teapot". Routine chores during the afternoon. Popped back to the Post Office for the mailed spares, then got them fitted, but still couldn't get a signal - didn't think we were that far from civilisation!
Dull morning, but no rain. Let go fairly promptly and continued east again to Dundas Wharf, where we took advantage of the services. Moved on again for Avoncliff. A hire-boat which had been alongside the bank, pulled out right in front, then dawdled at barely more than tick-over all the way to Avoncliff. We moored for lunch after crossing the aqueduct. Phone signal now also very poor - almost out of touch with the world.
Continued on after lunch as far as the bottom of Bradford Lock and moored for the night. A walk round to Sainsbury's for more stores to cover for the non-functional freezer.
|5.10 miles||0 locks||2.75 hrs||1.85 lmph|
Very heavy rain overnight, continuing during the morning. Time-expired on our mooring so must move on. As a result of yesterday's investigations and debate, have elected to forego Bristol and return east. Parts sourced for IT, to be forwarded by mail. Looking for good chandlery for replacement freezer.
Had lunch before departing, by which time the rain had eased to a light drizzle. Moved through Sydney Gardens to the winding hole above Top Lock, winded, and returned back towards the Thames. Rain managed to hold off until we got moored up at Claverton, before getting slightly heavier.
Got word by phone that our daughter had landed herself a new job, working with The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh.
|3.53 miles||0 locks||1.75 hrs||2.02 lmph|
Slight rain overnight, but clear by breakfast. All slept in, then had a leisurely start. Planning meeting, but no decision made (wondering whether to go as far as Bristol or not - currently on Spring tides so have been advised to wait at least a couple of days. Rain also forecast so river levels may be up). Major failure of 'tech' overnight so no email or internet until fixed. Took a gentle walk to Tesco's via Sydney Gardens , then investigated tech fault. Also investigated fault on freezer. Both items require parts or replacement.
Rain set in during afternoon.
Brighter morning, but fresh to start. Got away promptly, aiming for the outskirts of Bath. Some far better banking, some of it properly concreted. Said a quick 'hello' to Babs aboard "Quiescence" as she passed us heading eastwards. Passed through Bathampton - lovely little village - where we took water. Continued round to Darlington Wharf where there are plenty of good moorings looking across the river valley. Moored for the day.
Had a leisurely walk around the centre of town and out to the river, noting the famous horseshoe shape of Pulteney Weir . Managed to get a sighting of the peregrines which have nested on the spire of Bath Abbey. Georgian architecture very similar to sections of Edinburgh or Perth.
|3.30 miles||0 locks||1.77 hrs||1.87 lmph|
Admiral up early (skipper decided he couldn't be bothered!). On the go normal time (skipper was still ready first!) and continued westwards again. Drizzle set in just as we left, but it was fairly fine. It slowly increased, with intermittent sunny spells, until lunchtime when it had a final heavy fling, before clearing to a lovely afternoon. Followed the contour of the Avon valley, crossing the Avoncliff and Dundas aqueducts, and noting the short spur at Dundas Basin that marks the start of the (now derelict) Somerset Coal Canal. Moored for the day just short of the Claverton Pumping Station.
After lunch, walked down to the railway crossing with the intention of visiting the pumping station but, due to lack of proper research by the 'client entertainments manager', found it was not open - we could have ensured we had arrived yesterday, but now will not get to visit as our return passage will not be as late as the end of next month. Pottered for the rest of the afternoon.
Late in the afternoon, amongst the other bikes passing on the towpath, we noticed a bear in a bike-trailer. Just after it passed, we heard a lady say "Must take a photo of [our] bear" so our teddies immediately rallied round. The bear (and his cyclist 'driver') were taking part in a charity ride from London to Bath for "Afasic - A Voice for Life" .
|5.02 miles||0 locks||2.24 hrs||2.24 lmph|
Brilliant mooring, very quiet. A little rain overnight but not much - just freshened the air. Another leisurely start. Had a word with Chris & Lesley, who said they were staying put for the day. Let go about 09:30 and continued westwards. A few more swing bridges today. Initially, the hedgerows were lower providing a better view over the farmland, but gradually the trees increased again, shielding the view. Descended the two locks at Semington late morning, noting the culverted entrance to the now derelict Wilts & Berks Canal . Decided to have an early lunch on the move (rather than the late ones common recently!). More boats moored along the banking, although the quality of the bank was still very poor.
Arrived in Bradford-on-Avon early afternoon and looked for a mooring near to the shop, but nothing available. Stopped at the services, then descended the lock to continue the search. Met up with Rob from "Litania" who had a party of children out for the day. Total confusion as we exited the lock, with boats all trying to get to their own destinations without heed for others. Eventually sorted itself out without mishap, and we found a space we could squeeze into for the night. Had a long trek back to the supermarket, but got the stores we needed. Ice-cream on the way back at the K&A Canal Trust café.
|7.16 miles||3 locks||4.38 hrs||2.32 lmph|
Great night's sleep - much cooler and quieter. Leisurely start to the day knowing there was no target. Nearly 09:45 by the time we finally let go and started on the bottom section of the Caen Hill Flight. We had 'taken possession' of the lock before the boats coming down had started emptying the lock above us, but they caught up and the hire-boat appeared in a hurry. Realised the other boat was "Rosie" with whom we had been playing cat-and-mouse for several days. Completed the 7 locks and continued westwards.
Operated the swing-bridge at Rusty Lane and realised that only one boat was now behind us, so waited at Seend Top Lock. It turned out to be "Rosie". Descended the next three locks with them, whereupon they stopped for water and we continued. Having dropped through the next two locks, we found a very good 48-hour mooring next to the lower lock-landing for Seend Bottom Lock so pulled in for the day. Had finished mooring up, when "Rosie" appeared and also elected to moor up. Had a great chat with Chris & Lesley before retiring to our own boats for very late lunch.
Heavy cloud for most of the day, with a greatly increased wind. Occasional brighter periods during the afternoon, but it never really got 'sunny'.
|3.25 miles||12 locks||3.60 hrs||4.24 lmph|
After a very hot night with glass in as rain was forecast, it never arrived. Finally opened up again about 05:00 to try to salvage some sleep in the cool. A cooler morning with cloud, but didn't get up as quick as originally intended. Eventually on the move just before 09:00 and descended the top 6 locks of the Caen Hill Flight . Had difficulty locating the services berth but eventually got sorted - the water is on the first pontoon at the bottom of Cave Lock 45 with the pump-out, the elsan and rubbish are in the corner of the car park by the cross-berth (no mooring rings or bollards) above Sir Hugh Stockwell Lock 44. There is a café by the lock, selling excellent local ice cream!
Moving on, we started the decent of the central section. A couple of slight delays awaiting other boats coming up, and most of the locks were against us. At one, there was a slight communications breakdown with a CRT workboat coming up - I was given a lecture about doing what CRT staff told me (which I don't think was deserved as I only got the message 3rd-hand). It turned out later that the workboat crew had been leaving paddles up further down the flight and was not flavour of the month with those working the locks.
Finished the central section at Lock 29 and moored for the day. Had a nice chat with the Hotel Boat "Kailani" . Cloudy for most of the day, with occasional sunny spells. Much cooler than the last few days.
|1.49 miles||22 locks||4.99 hrs||4.71 lmph|
Another hot day in prospect, but with a forecast for a break early tomorrow - hope to take advantage of this and get down the flight. Took our time getting up, even though woken early by staff at the business opposite making a lot of noise with beer kegs at 06:00. Went for lazy walk through town during the morning, then did little again in the afternoon (I can see why continental Europeans have a siesta!). The workforce on the towpath very accommodating and friendly about letting boaters past the work.
Much cooler overnight, and we all slept better. Woke to thicker cloud, giving a bit of respite from the sun. Up slightly early to take advantage of the cool, and on the move before 08:30. Continued westwards towards Devizes with the farmland of the Vale spreading out on both sides, the canal itself flanked by hedgerow or trees. There were a number of quite long stretches where the reeds had encroached over almost half the canal-width - it was difficult to pass two narrowboats and would have been impossible for anything to pass a wide-beam. One designated 48-hour mooring just to the north of Horton Bridge that was 80% unusable due overgrowth. Noted a second white horse (out of 8) on the hill to the north of Devizes.
The sun was well out by mid-morning, and the temperature was headed up quickly. Arrived in Devizes just before lunch and moored at the 72-hour moorings just above Kennet Lock. This area had a suspension notice in force for work on the towpath, but the workforce said it was OK to moor. Noted that "Gabriel" was also moored here, and had been joined by Babs on "Quiescense". 'Catering' immediately headed out for stores - lunch when she came back.
Not a lot done in the afternoon as heat had built up again. Very light dinner, as late as possible, although the thermometer had risen to 33°C throughout the boat by then (it didn't drop below 24°C overnight). "Gabriel" and "Quiescense" both decided to move down the top 6 locks, ready for an early start in the cool tomorrow. - We'll hopefully meet up again later in the trip.
|7.88 miles||0 locks||3.37 hrs||2.34 lmph|
Skipper more improved by morning after a better night's rest (fewer trips to the smallest room). Time expired on moorings so had to move on. Noted "Gabriel" departing at 05:45. We moved up for services and then continued westwards. Great run out to the west of Pewsey, with the avenue of trees providing shade. Still no decent moorings bankside. Passed the wide section at Lady's Bridge 120, and noted the famous white horse cut into the hillside. Moored for the day at Honey Street - decent length of piled banking marked for visitors, just next to the pub.
|4.30 miles||0 locks||1.92 hrs||2.24 lmph|
Up with the intention of going to church. Another very hot day. By the time we were ready to go, skipper feeling not too good again so Pat went with James & Hazel - apparently very good service (disappointed not getting to go). The three went for Sunday Lunch at "The Crown Inn". Skipper spent whole day resting, and eating very little. Improvement again by evening.
Skipper a bit under the weather just before getting up, but put it down to tiredness. Another lovely sunny morning. Took photos of red kite soaring above the mooring, then James caught a grass snake that had been crossing the towpath. Let go mid-morning and descended Wootton Rivers Bottom Lock, continuing westwards. Lovely scenery looking out over the Vale of Pewsey, but still no mooring places bankside. Lucky when we arrived in Pewsey - there was a space just big enough at Pewsey Wharf to take both boats, so moored for the day.
'Catering' went to shop for food for joint dinner, while 'Navigation' walked round town checking details for our maps (he then ended up as packhorse for the stores!). Lunch on return.
Still feeling under the weather, skipper sat and did nothing during the afternoon, but from conversation, it looks like it might have been mild heat-stroke as James had same symptoms. Slightly improved after rest and fluids. Dinner aboard "Gabriel" as it was cooler out of the sun (but food supplied by us).
|2.89 miles||1 locks||1.44 hrs||2.71 lmph|
Woken early by Hazel, ready to go. Boat came through at 07:30 so James and I worked it through since the Admiral not ready yet. On the move before 08:00 after a hurried breakfast. Ascended the full Crofton Flight (8 locks) in company with "Gabriel", deciding to stop on the way back to see the pumping engine. The pound below the top lock was too low and we both grounded. After running water down, we completed the rise onto the summit pound, which was also a bit low. Continued west, through the Bruce Tunnel, and started the decent into the Vale of Pewsey. Descended through the top two locks, noted good moorings between locks 52 and 53, but did one more lock before stopping for the day.
Still catching up on routine duties not done over the last weeks - more washing and cleaning. Another lovely day, mostly sunny with occasional clouds. The wind from last night eased to a light breeze).
|5.12 miles||12 locks||4.32 hrs||3.96 lmph|
Yet another lovely day (the forecast is for good weather well into next week). Decided to get services, then move on to Great Bedwyn. James & Hazel moved off shortly before we were ready, but were planning similar, so we all decided to chum along again today.
They took "Gabriel" back for services, but another boat then went in after them but before we got there. Delay as the tap didn't work properly and they were very slow to fill. Finally on the move (forward) again, picked up "Gabriel" (who had in the meantime received, and cleared, a tyre round their prop) at the foot of the lock and started the ascent for the day. Getting along fine for the first few locks, but caught up with "Rachel" (one of the boats from the Bruce Trust ) who were working slightly slower. Having ascended 10 locks, eventually arrived in Great Bedwyn (and having seen nowhere the whole day to moor bankside), expecting to find at least one space at the visitor moorings, but nothing!
Ascended Great Bedwyn Church Lock, and continued slowly onwards, trying every bit of banking that looked promising (reducing daily averages etc), but still nothing. Eventually decided that we would just have to risk stopping on the lock-mooring at Crofton Bottom (Beech Grove) 63. One boat fully on, the other sticking out by 1/3 length. Invited to barbeque by James & Hazel. Great evening.
|6.13 miles||11 locks||6.26 hrs||2.74 lmph|
Very warm start to the day, and it got hotter. Took our time getting up. Had a quick chat with Rob & Trish as they were leaving, and agreed to buddy James & Hazel to Hungerford. Let go mid-morning and had a leisurely run up through Brunsden, Wire and Dunmill Locks. Attempted to moor just before the services point but were both unable to get alongside. Passed under Hungerford Town Bridge and managed to get moored at the visitor moorings on the towpath side (the better ones on the offside were full). The ground was very soft and pins were being pulled out with only the slightest movement of water. Went up the road for lunch to Eliane's (very good food, but quite expensive).
Spent the afternoon attemping to get some order back into the boat - bed-change, washing, ironing, etc. Also took another walk to check for changes to our electronic maps. Stayed very hot all day.
|3.12 miles||3 locks||2.06 hrs||2.97 lmph|
After a quieter night (not under a road bridge), feeling a bit more human. Another sunny day. Took our time getting started, then wandered to town for last minute stores. Didn't have what was needed so had to go back out. Eventually let go after lunch and headed through the town and up Newbury Lock.
Continued up the next 7 locks heading for Kintbury. Although this waterway is now officially 'canal' as opposed to 'navigable river', there are very few places to moor outside the towns/villages. The banks are either overgrown, in poor condition, or masked with reeds. Suspect that the money intended for this region had to be diverted last winter to pay for the repair work up north after the floods (I hope that's the case, anyway, and that CRT get some work done here soon). Noted a water vole on the river section between Hamstead and Copse Locks - it actually swam under our counter (I had the prop stopped at the time). Sunny all day with the wind down on the last few days. Lovely to be back in the peace of the countryside.
With the locks taking longer than we are accustomed to, we were running later than expected by the time we ascended Kintbury Lock into the town. Did the water and loo (essential by this time) and breasted up to "Gabriel" as there were no other moorings available. Late dinner, then TV and bed.
|5.82 miles||8 locks||4.70 hrs||2.94 lmph|
Lovely sunny day all day Thursday. Took a walk into town in the morning, then did a big shop at Sainsbury's in the afternoon. Quiet day otherwise, resting from last week and preparing for next week.
Friday was mostly sunny, with a short light shower late afternoon. Planning meeting in the morning in the Kennet & Avon Trust Building. Took a walk into town again in the afternoon for haircut and to collect mail. When I got back, moved "Paws" to the Trust Building and took water before crossing over to the Victoria Park side to moor outside "Dawn Run". All set for the new week. Were given a great surprise to find that John & Jan had joined us for part of the week.
Part two of the mission kicked off on Saturday with "Men's Breakfasts" at various churches in the area, followed by support of coffee mornings in Newbury (I went to Thatcham by car with John and 2 others, had history tour round Greenham on return run). Afternoon was "open boats" for anyone passing on the towpath. Mostly sunny.
A dull and windier day on Sunday. The Mission team went out to most of the Newbury churches for their morning services, then attended "Pentecost in the Park" at the Victoria Park next to our moorings. Led by 'Churches Together in the Newbury Area ', this was an outdoor picnic and celebration for anyone who was passing. Rain muscled in late afternoon.
Another round of schools' visits during the day and other organisations in the evenings during the week. Went to listen to James & Hazel's Folk-Night at the "London Apprentice". John & Jan also helped out with the music. Occasional rain showers but weather generally not too bad.
Everyone rather stunned on Friday evening by the news that Oakley , Tracey's Guide Dog, had been savaged by an alsation on the towpath. It took his wee pal, Lilly, to coax him back out from their boat, but the good news was that he was back to his usual self again by Saturday morning. Tracey took slightly longer to recover from the shock but was fine by the afternoon.
Weekend once again had us "open boats" for general public to visit us in our homes, free boat trips, free barbeque and other activities. Attended the service at the Methodist church on Sunday. Occasional dampness but never turned fully to rain.
Some boats moved off as soon as events finished on Sunday evening, others went early Monday morning. A few of us had a late breakfast together at the Teashop by the Canal; in the Canal Trust building before moving off. We moved round to the 14-day moorings (clear of the noisy bridge) for Monday night - generally chilling out after the heavy three weeks of the Mission. Tim & Tracey popped in for coffee. Early night!
|Local movements during Mission|
|0.55 miles||0 locks||0.53 hrs||1.03 lmph|