Saturday, 15 June 2013

Heading West - nearly into Wiltshire

We've now climbed up the valley of the River Kennet through Newbury to Hungerford where we're moored tonight after an easy morning's cruise.

On Thursday we had a long day (well longer than we normally do) of 10 miles and 12 locks, but also 8 swing or lifting bridges.  Here are some of the bridges:

This is Padworth Swing Bridge which is electrically driven on a road with a fair bit of traffic,
And this is Aldermaston Lift Bridge on the A340 so allowing a boat through stops lots of traffic.  There is undoubtedly a sense of power in being able to do this, but we always look carefully first to  make sure there are no emergency vehicles coming.  There is a fierce current through the bridge and up to the lock just above.

Finally here is Oxlease Swing Bridge.  This is a manually operated swing bridge on a footpath.  The number of swing bridges on this part of the K&A reminded us of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal last year.

A succession of locks spaced a mile or so apart then brought us into Newbury where we spent Thursday night.  Here are a couple of them:

This one is called Monkey Marsh lock and is the second of the two 'turf' locks on this canal.  The iron structure makes sure the boat stays in the deep part of the lock but the water spills over to the earth sides of the lock.

And here is Greenham Lock which was very pretty.  Under the bridge to the right comes the river current which comes through a marina basin.  The cross current does not help navigation into the lock!

We found a quiet mooring just out of the town of Newbury and above this lock.  It was quite late by the time we stopped so we didn't fancy cooking and instead went to an Italian restaurant in town.  Very pleasant and made a change from usual pub fare or eating on board.

The river current through Newbury, given that we've had little rain for a fortnight, was quite surprising and as well as fighting the current you have to go between two streams coming in from left and right to land safely in Newbury Lock.  A tricky move this which we managed quite successfully on Friday morning:

Here we are following Perelka who we've teamed up with for the present.  Despite high revs on the engine we were being overtaken by grannies and toddlers on this stretch.  The pretty bridge is the High Street in Newbury and beyond it is the river junction and the lock.

Here we are coming into the lock.  Leo has been swept to the left by the river current and I am now trying to get back straight to enter the lock.  The left gate is not yet open but as usual Ron (on Perelka) and I have a cunning plan so that Perelka can zip leftwards and Leo will come in through the same gate.

Coming away from Newbury we came across a horse boat used for trips along this part of the canal.  At first all we could see was a large broad-beamed boat slewed across the canal and a big heavy horse dancing around on the towpath.  In fact the trip boat, 'Kennet Valley' was turning round (or winding as we say) and the horse, 'Freddie', was new to the job and a bit skittish.

Here is Kennet Valley with a full complement of passengers leaving the lock pulled by Freddie.  We were surprised how quickly she reached full speed.

Here is a view back when we later overtook the trip boat showing Freddie on the towpath with the horseman and a long tow rope back to the barge.

And finally here is Freddie.  Isn't he lovely?

In truth that day he seemed very happy to pose for pictures but less keen to do his job of pulling the barge.

Friday evening we moored in Kintbury in the sunshine:
Having tea on arrival - notice the washing which dried really well
Today we've just come a short distance to Hungerford.  We have a lovely mooring right in the centre of town and moored just as the heavens opened and it poured down.  We have spent the afternoon touring the antique and junk shops.  The Hungerford Arcade has loads of tiny stalls of all sorts of antiques.
Moored by the bridge in Hungerford

Main street to the North of the Canal

Interesting ironwork bridge across to a house by the canal

Looking up the High Street

Tomorrow we begin the final ascent to the summit of the canal though it will probably take us a couple of days to reach it.  We are 20 locks and 8 miles from the top which is 452 feet above sea level.  Still tomorrow we will be some way up.  We want to visit the Crofton Beam Engine near the top which was used to pump water up to the short (two and a half mile) summit pound.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you ask a question in a comment it may be worth knowing that for some reason at present I am unable to reply to a comment unless you choose to let me have your e mail address.