Friday, 19 September 2014

Wootton Rivers to All Cannings

After Wootton Rivers our next stop was Pewsey Wharf.  The mooring there is poor but at least we were able to walk into Pewsey to stock up with provisions.  Provisions were not the only thing we were able to stock up with.  I had seen a flyer about the coal boat “Aquilo”and knew that it was going to be in the area.  They carry cheaper diesel, gas, coal, logs, kindling, pump-out cards – just about all the essentials  boaters need!  Job done!  They have a yard at Hilperton and are incredibly well organised.

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Also whilst at Pewsey, Gill and Rodney came to find us and we all went to the dog friendly Golden Swan at Wilcot for Sunday lunch in order to celebrate both mine and Rodney’s birthdays.  Lovely.

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Onward from Pewsey.  There’s no doubt about it, parts of the K&A really are very pretty ………………..

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Views of the Marlborough Downs

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Picked Hill

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Ladies Bridge

We thought the visitor mooring at All Cannings was the nicest we had come across since Reading.  And, how bizarre!  That very day, whilst we were moored up there, All Cannings featured on “Escape to the Country”!  It’s a really nice village with a community shop, good pub and access to some lovely walks up on the Downs.  We walked up to the site of a neolithic earthworks called Rybury Camp.  The views from up there are breath-taking.

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On the way up we passed this -

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This is The Long Barrow at All Cannings. 

It’s a modern-day burial mound.  When finished it will have a grass roof topped with wild flowers.  Cremated remains can be placed on shelves inside.

It’s an alternative.


To finish on a more cheerful note – a couple of pictures of Ellen …………..more??????

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We thought our wood collection was doing well until we passed this lot!


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Another example of determination!

Our next challenge is to be the 29 locks of the Caen Hill Flight …………………….


Friday, 12 September 2014

Kintbury to Wootton Rivers

Hungerford and it’s surrounding marshland is a great area for walking.  The crystal clear little river Dun flows through the marsh and there’s lots of choice as to which paths to follow.  The middle picture is of an egret – I’ve only ever seen them flying or on the ground before.

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One day we decided we didn’t want to moor where everyone else was but it wasn’t easy and took lots of determination.  It’s not fair to say that there’s nowhere to moor on the K&A – there are designated visitor moorings but they are where the powers-that-be want you to stop for a pub or shops.  For those of us who like to moor in the middle of nowhere with open views, it’s really frustrating!  And, where there are rare places to get into the bank, the Unofficial Residential Non Compliant Continuous Cruisers are generally well entrenched!!

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Locks and swing bridges just kept on coming but when some joker decides to put a swing bridge is in the middle of a lock chamber ……………. well, I ask you!!  This is Hungerford Marsh Lock.  The truth of the matter is that when the canal was constructed, permission to re-route the existing public right of way around the lock was refused.  The crossing had to be provided exactly where it had been before and that is where it remains today.

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Now we are in Wiltshire and beautiful thatch cottages abound:-  ££££££££££££££££££££

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They obviously provide a constant source of work for the professionals:-

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We walked away from the canal to see the restored and extremely well cared for windmill at Wilton.  It is maintained and operated by The Wilton Windmill Society.

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We moored for the night by The Crofton Pumping Station.  April Love was there for a short while and we were able to have a bit of a chat with her new owners.  It was a somewhat noisy night as the main London – Plymouth railway line, which has been our constant companion since Reading, was a just a stone’s throw away!

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We have seen very few boats on the move.  After Crofton Top Lock we reached the short summit pound.  After all the effort to reach the summit – 52 locks, 13 swing/lift bridges and 35 miles, it was over in little more than 2 miles!  We are now, however, seeing the appearance of a few widebeam boats and, since coming through the short Bruce tunnel, we’ve had lots of kingfisher sightings.

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We moored for the night at Wootton Rivers.  The church clock has the unusual inscription of ‘Glory Be To God’ instead of numbers.  We can now look forward to 15 miles of lock free boating.  The guide books, maps and articles I have in my possession tantalize by telling me about lovely walks on the downs but whether or not we will be able to moor up in order to access them remains to be seen.

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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Reading to Kintbury

I’ve decided the K&A can be a-likened to having a baby!  It’s a painful experience but time forces you to forget!  I remember there being a lot of locks.  I remember the locks being double, heavy and fierce.  What I hadn’t remembered were the number of swing/ lift bridges!  Locks and swing/lift bridges are relentless!

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Before leaving The Thames we spoke to Ricky on Hidden Pearl who said he had recently been as far as Newbury.  He was not impressed!  He told us that not only was it hard work but it was over-grown and there was nowhere to moor – the first two observations are definitely true and, as for mooring, opportunities are seriously insufficient.

With the exception of the little Cornish Crabber which I now know to be called Demelza, we had not encountered any other boats going our way since the first morning.  Coming towards us we have met a few hire boats.  Demelza with Ros, Barbara and Nancy on board have passed us and then we have passed them and then they have caught us up and then we have caught them up ……………  You might be interested to read about the challenge, Derek, as they will be coming past your watch next Spring:-

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And onwards to Newbury.  The navigation passes through the centre of the town.  On reaching Newbury we did, at last, begin to see a handful of other boats on the move.  One of them was …………. April Love, Ben’s old narrowboat!  It was good to see her still being used but she’s seriously in need of a polish!!

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Jane and Ron came to find us for the day and we had a really nice meal in a canalside pub.

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We moored up right by the The Newbury Bypass – noisy but really good for Lola because the lovely Victoria Park was so accessible for ball games.

We have now moved on to Kintbury and, thank goodness, we have managed to get on to a good designated mooring – the banks are seriously overgrown everywhere else.      xxoo

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

On to The Kennet and Avon

At last I have a waterway to blog about that I have not blogged out before!  That’s not to say we haven’t been on this canal before – it was the first canal we did as liveaboards back in 2007 but that was before blog days.  I remember it being very hard work due to the number of double locks and swing/lift bridges and finding mooring spots hard to obtain – we will see.  We did go to Bristol and back in about 3 weeks – far too fast!!

Soon after entering the K&A you come to Blakes Lock, the last under the jurisdiction of the Environment Agency.  The lock keeper was at lunch so we had to sort ourselves out.  (My maiden name just happened to be Blake so nostalgia is hard to suppress!)

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We went round The Abbey Loop really just to see what the moorings are like round there and we found Blake’s Wharf:-

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     Back on the main part of the river we saw his cottages:-

              SO …………………………. who WAS Blake?

Is this statue in his memory?

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Anyway, onward through the Oracle Centre in Reading.  The last time we did this I remember feeling like a goldfish in a bowl but it didn’t seem so bad this time.

Yesterday Megan had come to find us and she and I had walked in and around the shops in Reading so I now know what retail establishments lie beyond this centre as well as what’s inside it!!


We carried on through and at the second lock outside of Reading we met a lady in her seventies on a small Cornish Crabber – she had set off from Falmouth in the Spring, had gone all along the South coast, come up the Thames and is now making her way to Bristol to go out at Avonmouth.  She’s raising money for the provision of wells in Ethiopia.

A Cornish crabber - the captain (female in her 70's) started out at Falmouth and sailed round to The Thames Estuary.

As in the past we’ve found it difficult to find somewhere to moor for the night so are sort-of stuffed in the reeds up against a meadow!  Lola thinks it’s great!! xxoo