Wednesday, 12 June 2013

We're on the Kennet and Avon

After nearly two weeks enjoying the Thames we turned today at Reading and began our climb up the Kennet and Avon Canal towards Bath and Bristol.  So let me bring you up to date.

On Monday morning we walked into Dorchester and visited the Abbey which is huge, more like a cathedral than the parish church of a small village.
Inside Dorchester Abbey

Gravestone in the Abbey

We were very taken with the story set out on this gravestone.  I hope you can read it well enough in this copy.

Once back on Leo we carried on downstream through Goring Lock to Beale Park just outside Pangbourne.
Approaching Goring Lock


And we passed this most unusual summerhouse by the river. Fine for cold days but must be like a greenhouse in the summer sun.

We decided that Beale Park (a wild animal park) was really for kids so we decided against a visit and instead walked a little further from the river on Tuesday morning to Basildon Park where we had a most interesting tour of this National Trust house.  Basildon was built in the 18th century but restored from a dilapidated condition in the 1950s.
Basildon Park

Restored dining room ceiling

Now do you remember this house from the film of Pride and Prejudice?  The one with Keira Knightley.

From here we travelled just a few miles to moor just upstream of Caversham Bridge and last night we met our friend Miriam for a lovely meal nearby.

This morning we set off for our last day on the Thames through Reading to turn onto the River Kennet being the first part of the Kennet and Avon Canal.  Here are some last shots of life on the big river:
Nice big barge - how's that for a tiller?

Gosling procession

The first part up through the centre of Reading was interesting and not a little exciting given that the current against us on the River Kennet was pretty powerful and threw the boat off course a few times.
Bronze Fisherman by the Kennet

High Bridge, Reading

Going right through the middle of Reading

To County Lock with the weir to its right

This section is controlled by traffic lights so that only one boat at a time is allowed through.  The shame is that you are not allowed to moor either so the centre of Reading does not really benefit from the boats passing through as do many other cities.  It seems a shame and leaves the river looking a bit dead.

Once through Reading the K&A has some surprises, mostly due to the force of the current but there are also some strange locks.

This is Garston Lock.  Like many locks it was originally turf lined without the stone walls that later replaced the turf.  Here they have left the turf sides but lined the navigable part with a curious steel and timber structure.

And this is Shenfield Lock.  We think this was also a turf lock which has been lined with this curious wavy brick wall.  We shared locks this afternoon with a rather nice 40 foot narrowboat called 'Perelka' which is Polish for 'little pearl', crewed by a nice couple called Ron and Anna.  We both appreciated the extra help particularly with Tyle Hill Lock where a swing bridge on a busy road comes just before a lock.

The swing bridges this afternoon reminded us of our time last year on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

So we are looking forward to discovering what other surprises the Kennet and Avon  has in store for us over the next few days.  Looking at our guide book shows that we climb gradually first along the valley of the Kennet and then on a pure canal with no river sections up to Newbury and Hungerford before reaching the summit level on the Wiltshire Downs.  We can't wait.

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