Sunday, 28 April 2013

Devizes - Sunday 28th April 2013

Late this morning a boat came down the locks so we made our move and travelled the one mile and 6 locks to reach Devizes with the locks in our favour and more boats coming down.
1 devizes mooring
We have seen more boats today going in both directions than we have seen all the time we have been on the K & A, a mixture of hire and private vessels with even boats waiting at the locks. I read on the forums that the stretch from Bradford to Bath had been particularly busy with 20 or so hire boats out over the weekend.
2 busy at last
As we came up the locks we spotted the this Quaker Meeting House and thought Betty might like to see a photo of it.3 Quaker meeting house
This wide beam is moored in the spot where we moored last night. It was a great spot with lovely views over the valley.4 Last night mooring
7 view from mooring
Bridge 142 is being repaired after a car went through the wall into the canal below. It has created a few traffic problems but fortunately there is no difficulty with boat navigation..
5 Bridge Repair after car
Met Andy, the Lock Keeper, again on his Quad bike making sure that the locks are worked correctly by those transiting the flight.8 andy on Quad
This Moon boat is just passing the Black Horse pub but is too late to go down the locks which close at 5.00pm to enable all boats to complete their transit before the top and bottom paddles are secured.
9 Moon Boat at black horse
At Devizes Wharf we found this Theatre which is putting on a play at the beginning of May. Also at the wharf is the  K & A Museum, Cafe and shop.91 Devizes Theartre
92 The WharfMuseum

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Caen Hill - Saturday 27th April 2013

We were woken at 3.00 am this morning with a bright light illuminating the bedroom. Looking out we could see that it was a full moon in all its glory, this picture was taken through the porthole and it is amazing the detail we could see on its surface.
1 Full Moon
Returning to bed and sleep we had a lie in, even Phoenix did not get us up so early, and after a leisurely breakfast we filled with water and headed for Moonrake Lock at the bottom of the Caen 16 flight, the idea being that we would stay the night there and tackle the flight first thing the following morning when all the locks would be empty. The first seven locks were all against us however and it took us two and a half hours to reach our mooring spot .
Whilst the locks were under construction a tram road provided a link between the canal at Foxhangers to Devizes, the remains of which can be seen in the towpath arches in the road bridges over the canal. A brickyard was dug to the south of the workings to manufacture the bricks for the lock chambers and this remained in commercial use until the middle of the 20th century.. The bridges on the Caen hill locks all have a side tunnel.
2 Moonraker Lock
As we moored we noticed that all the locks in the flight ahead of us were against us so were relieved that our plan was the best approach to tackling the locks. Settling down to our lunch, Charlie came by on his bike and said that he had been up the locks and there was a boat coming down and was currently at lock 35. If we wanted to carry on going up he would love to help us once the boat had come down as the locks would be in our favour. We jumped at this opportunity even though June was a little tired and we would end up doing far more locks than we had intended. Better to do it today with help rather than tomorrow with non we thought.3 Charlie
Shortly afterwards Andy the lock keeper and a friend of James and Doug, whom we had met on the decent of the locks, came by on his quad bike and said that he would also help us up as there were no other boats coming down or up. An opportunity not to be missed so as soon as the first lock was empty we were on our way.
4 Locking team
With the help of Andy and Charlie we seemed to fly through the locks and completed the flight of 16 in only one and three quarter hours, a bit of a difference to the two and a half hours for the earlier 7.
5 Gongoozlers
Being the only boat on the flight we were a target for the Saturday afternoon Gongoozlers and were constantly being questioned and photographed at each lock.
6 Swans nest
Towards the top of the flight two swans have built their nest on the off side of the lock and Andy was the only one brave enough to open the paddle next to them.
7 almost there
Almost there, as June and Charlie operate the penultimate lock with the Cafe in the background.
8 Top lock view
The view from the top lock at last and in the photo below, moored up on the visitor mooring just above with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. It is said that you can see 4 counties from here.
9 Visitor Mooring at top
Phoenix enjoys her bone after we had shared tea and home made cake with Charlie and Andy. A big THANK YOU to them both for all their help which saved June from even more trouble with her back and got us to the top of the locks a day earlier than we had planned.
91 Phoe enjoys bone

Hitch Hiker on board–Friday 26th April 2013

We had a late start this morning and spotted a hire boat heading for Bradford Lock on its way back to the marina just above, so we upped pins and followed them into the lock for a free ride up our first lock. The crew were a lovely young group from Cornwall who were returning from their weeks cruise to Bath and we chatted away as the boats rose in the lock. Waving farewell we headed for The Boatyard at Hilperton Wharf where we filled with diesel at 85p/ltr with own declaration and were able to thank Victoria for obtaining our chandlery for us.
As we set off we picked up a hitch hiker for a ride down the cut, a hen Mallard on the back fender.
The sun was shining and Phoenix enjoyed the back deck with her latest toy, Patch, who has lasted the longest of any of her toys and hopefully will be still in one piece when she leaves us as she will be able to take her favourite toy with her.
2 Phoenix with Patch
Motoring on we we had true April weather with bright warm sunshine one minute and rain, hail, and strong winds the next. At one of the numerous swing bridges on this section we spotted this unusual garage in a farm yard. The trouble is we can remember the petrol pumps, Camp coffee and other items. Luckily on this stretch the swing bridges do have the temporary mooring areas on the side which you swing whereas some are on the offside making it difficult to move the boat and bridge.
3 Interesting Garage in farm
I wonder why it is that on the K & A the bridges are numbered from Reading and the Locks from Bristol. It seems a funny thing to do as when it was built how would they have know the eventual number of bridges and locks to number.
At the Semington Locks we soon developed a system of working between us which would mitigate the effects on June’s back and really enjoyed working as a well oiled team again.
We moored up at Sells Green and I took Phoenix a walk up to the Caen Hill flight to give her a little exercise as she had to remain on the boat whilst we travelled today.
92 Three magpies
Later we went for a meal at the Three Magpies which has recently been refurbished. I must say the food was fantastic, I had cod, chips and mushy peas and the fish was more like a whale, with light crispy batter; there was so much it beat me. The beer was pretty good too and the staff very welcoming. By the time we left there was a waiting list for tables so if you decide to try it book in advance unless you go early.
93 carvan club site
The Camping and Caravan Club site which is adjacent to the canal has a shop where you can obtain groceries etc.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Romeo Rabbit - Thursday 25th April 2013

June’s back had been suffering from too many locks and after a particularly bad night we made the decision to curtail our trip and head slowly back towards home. It was a difficult decision but one which had to be made and we hoped that Doug and James would be able to continue their trip to Bristol sharing the locks with Nb. Tacet who were to leave that morning.
Saying our farewells we reversed the boat to the winding hole and headed back towards the Thames.
F Fairwell to chance
The little family of Mallard ducklings June had been feeding had survived the night and came to the side hatch to wish us a good journey as we left the mooring.
e Babies being fed
I could not resist taking a picture of this boat “My Newt” as I think it goes nicely with “Along Shortly” a similar sized boat we saw last year.
G My Newt
A delightful little house on the side of the canal which would make any canal lover a fantastic home.
H Canalside Home
A little while after we had moored up a young couple came walking by with a rabbit on a lead and as June loves Rabbits we had to stop them and have a chat. Romeo as he is called is 2 years old and is house trained to the extent that he uses a litter tray like a cat and goes everywhere with them. He apparently loves kisses and cuddles and certainly seemed happy lying in the girls arms.
H Romeo Rabbit

Dundas to Bath - Wednesday 24th April 2013

We left the mooring and gently motored across the aqueduct to fill with water at the wharf whilst we waited for Nb Chance to catch up with us. Chance arrived at the same time as a very wide wide beam came into the basin fortunately June had warned James as you cannot see anything coming around the right angle bend at the wharf.
We motored on slowly through lines of moored boats all the way to Bath passing the old George Inn at Bathampton.
a1 George Inn Bathampton
The entrance to Bath proper is through some delightful bridges surrounded by formal parklands where Phoenix enjoyed her early morning walk. The building on top, Cleveland House,was once the headquarters of the canal company and the cast iron bridges date back to1800.
2 Bath Bridges
We moored up before Bath Top Lock and just in front of Nb Tacet, ready for the journey down the river to Bristol and then we all went off exploring the town and in my case to change my Hotter shoes whose soles had cracked earlier in the holiday. Phoenix brought the shop to a standstill as customers and staff all vied to make a fuss of her, this she just took in her stride, of course.
3 Bath
The famous river weir is also a spectacular sight as is the cathedral as well as the usual tourist haunts of the Roman Baths, Royal Crescent, Jane Austin Centre all of which we have visited on previous trips to the city. The Seagull was a real poser standing on the parapet for tourist to take his photo.
Returning to the boat tired and foot weary for a late afternoon tea and home made cake I left June to recover and took Phoenix a walk down the Widecombe lock flight to the river. The last but one lock is 19 feet 5 inches deep and is the result of combing two locks during a road building scheme. The locks are still in an attractive setting with weeping willow trees and large side pounds and the old pump house.
4 Bath Locks
Later we, and Ian and Karen from Nb. Tacet, joined James and Doug aboard Chance for nibbles and pre dinner drinks and a chat. We had such a good evening that we did not notice how the time was flying by and by then we were too tired to go out so Doug rustled a cheese board and June a fruit salad which we all enjoyed.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Short Trip to Dundas - Tuesday 23rd April 2013

This morning Phoenix and I took our early morning walk at about 7.00am and headed out into the country park and back along the river into Bradford on Avon town. We came across some lovely old houses adjacent to the river and a wonderful little bridge. We also walked through Barton Grange Farm which was a grange of the Abbess of Shaftsbury and given to her in 1001by King Ethelred. Since 1530 it has been in private ownership and was a working farm until 1971. On our way back to the boat we stopped off at the bakers just down from the wharf and bought some delicious croissants for breakfast.
Bradford on Avon
The boys decided that they wanted to explore Bradford so we opted to move on a little further down the valley to Dundas Aqueduct and they would catch us up when they had seen their friends.
Just after we had exited the first lock we saw a Kingfisher catch a fish and take it up onto a branch and eat it. usually they fly off in front of the boat but this one just stayed there and we could have touched him as we glided past. By the time I had got the camera out we were passed him but I did manage this shot.
K 1
We motored on passed lines of moored boats to Avoncliff Aqueduct with it sharp right and left turns as it take us across the river. Unfortunately the walls are too high for you to see the river as you cross.
a 1
The valley is tree lined and in certain areas you are not permitted to moor because of the danger of trees falling and we did see evidence of this with large tree trunks still to be removed from the water. However there are some lovely views as you progress down the valley.
As we reached the Dundas Aqueduct there is a sharp left had turn which can catch you out if you are not expecting it. Moored just ahead on the 48 hour moorings was the Ice cream boat aptly named The Dawdling Dairy and we were able to pull in behind him and moor up. A delightful spot in the sunshine with views down the valley and across the aqueduct.
The guy and his wife who run the boat were lovely people and we had a long chat to them about their experiences and adventures on the canal system. We of course could not resist a Cornish 99 for our dessert after lunch.
With the glorious weather we decided to wash the side of the boat as it had got really dirty passing through the locks on Sunday and after lunch I took Phoenix a walk down below the aqueduct and then up to the top of Conkwell Woods. It was a steep climb in thick woodland but unfortunately the trees obscured the view from the top.
ph 1
The way up to the top of Conkwell Woods
d 2
The plaque mounted in the centre of the aqueduct says it was to the memory of John Thomas to whose skill, perseverance and integrity brought the K & A to a prosperous completion.
d 3
The Plaque
d 4 An evening view of the aqueduct from the A36
D 1
Dundas Wharf
Below the aqueduct the Monkton Combe School have their rowing club and they were just opening up as I passed. They invited me in to see their workshop and some of the original wooden boats which were made there. Although it is only a small school they have had 10-12 pupils go on to become Olympians.
At the Dundas Wharf an arm goes off to the west which ends at the Brassknocker Basin and this was once the Somersetshire Coal Canal but is now used to moor boats, hire out canoes, boats and bikes as well as a cafe. The canal was opened in 1801 the 10 miles to Paulton with branches to Radstock. It closed in 1898 with the first quarter mile being restored in 1986-88.
s 2
With such glorious sunny weather the towpath here was busy during the day with walkers, joggers, cyclists and gongoozlers and we had a great afternoon chatting to lots of people.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Bradford on Avon - Monday 22nd April 2013

As we left Sells Green we passed these side ponds which were created when they rebuilt the banks on the towpath side leaving the natural slopes on the offside to fill with controlled water to act as a wildlife habitat.
Side waterlife ponds
There are some interesting boats on this stretch of canal and even on the bank side, here is a small selection. The trail boats in  the bottom photo were for sale if any one is interested.
1 interesting Boats
Just below Buckley’s Lock is the bricked up entrance to the now derelict Wilts and Berks Canal
wilts and berks
Bradford on Avon is an interesting town set in the Avon valley with lots of little alleyways but you do take your life in your own hands as the traffic is non stop and the pavements just seem to disappear so you end up having to criss cross the busy roads.
2 Bradford On avon
This Catholic Church now embraces the HSBC and Lloyds Banks along its left had side which is a novel way of using the building.
We spotted this Gold Post Box as a dedication to Ed McKeever who powered to victory in the men’s 200m kayak to win Britain’s 26th gold medal in last years Olympics.