Sunday, 13 August 2017

Down Caen Hill and now heading for Bath

At our last posting we were moored in Devizes.  Well we spent two days there chiefly because we wanted to do the tour round Wadworth's Brewery, so we did not actually go down the Caen Hill Locks until Thursday.

One of the impressive features of the Brewery (apart from the beers we sampled on a tutored tasting) was the sign shop where most of the Wadworth pub signs are hand painted.  This one was finished by Prince Charles who apparently painted the fourth horse's hoof from the right.

Here is the sign shop with a rather unflattering picture of Lucy, our very enthusiastic and effective guide, on the right and Helen laughing on the left.


This is the grist mill (for cracking the grains of barley to make grist) manufactured in Leeds in 1938 and still in use.  Apparently the firm that made it was a victim of its own success as its machines were so reliable they never needed replacing.
And here is a vat of Harvester beer being fermented.















So last Thursday we set off down the famous Caen Hill flight of locks, going down the initial 6 and then the straight run of 16 locks to moor at the bottom.

Here is Leo just approaching the top lock at Devizes.

And this is the top lock of the main flight, next to the cafe.  At this point a wide view opens out of the plain down below the locks.  Though we were on our own in the locks we had the benefit of an accomplished volunteer, Gill, who helped us all the way down and then stayed for well earned tea and biscuits.

Caen Hill is quite a tourist attraction so you need to be prepared for being the centre of attention.

 As you come out of each lock the view ahead is amazing.

Here is Leo at the bottom of the straight flight of 16 locks.

Seen from next to the boat, this is the classic view up the locks.  Designed by John Rennie the flight is straight as an arrow up the hill.



















The locks don't end here as there are another 7 below where we spent the night.  We came down these on Friday and met our friends Pete and Sylvie who have a broadbeam boat near the bottom of these locks.  They treated us to lunch onboard their boat which was very welcome and totally unexpected.  We then carried on to Seend where another five locks drop towards Bradford on Avon.

This is Violanthe which is Pete and Sylvie's boat.  It is 'a narrow boat and a half ' wide so very roomy inside and even has a bathroom with a bath!!

The K&A has somewhat of a reputation for 'crusty' boats and this was a fine example of a residential boater with the contents of the loft and the garage on its roof.
At Seend we moored in the pound with the Barge Inn.  This is a fine pub but unfortunately that pound leaks quite a lot and was down about 18 inches by morning.  Once a boat came through the lock below we were no longer floating. Mud and rocks were visible on the sides of the canal.  So we pushed off and had breakfast while moored in the lock!!

Coming into Trowbridge an aqueduct crosses the A350.

And at the bottom of the pair of locks at Semington we passed where the Wilts and Berks canal once turned off the K&A.  Perhaps it will again be navigable one day.

At Hilperton we stopped as arranged at 'The Boatyard' run by Spencer and Victoria to have our fuel polished.  This cleans the tank and the fuel and we have had this done with a view to the passage on the tidal Severn that we are planning.  Our fuel was not in fact very dirty and this jam jar shows the small amount of muck at the bottom from the filtration process.

As well as doing this we were able get all the boat items on our shopping list at their chandlery and they sell the cheapest diesel on the canal.  So well worth patronising.


From Hilperton we had a slow journey into Bradford on Avon following a pair of boats, Ferrous pulling Susan.  Still boating is not for those in a hurry and it was a nice day.









We had a good look round Bradford yesterday afternoon.  It is similar to Bath with terraces of golden stone and an attractive riverside too.  Today (Sunday) we welcomed our son David and his girlfriend Ash on board for a short cruise to Avoncliff.

Bradford on Avon has a single lock which is one of the deepest on the canal at over 10 feet.  This is another tourist place so lots of people were watching from the road bridge as we came out of the lock.

The canal from Bradford to Bath is on a level shelf high above the River Avon and crosses the river and the railway on a couple of wonderful aqueducts.  This is the first one at Avoncliff.

This is the view from the top of Leo crossing the aqueduct looking towards the east.

Beyond the river crossing the canal crosses an aqueduct over the railway.  There is a sharp right turn onto the aqueducts and a sharp left turn to come off them.  The blue boat is waiting for us to come off the aqueducts so that it can cross.

It was a fine afternoon so we enjoyed a salad lunch on the bank watching other boats making a mess of the sharp turn.  David and Ash are between Ian and Helen at the table from Leo.

Here is John Rennie's fine architecture of the Avoncliff Aqueduct.

After David and Ash had left us we had a drink in the garden of the pub, the Cross Guns, sitting right down on the banks of the River Avon.  You can see the tables and brollies on the right of the river.

As you come off the aqueduct there is a pillbox left over from the Second World War.  Some humourist has put a couple of beer bottles in the gunsight so that it looks as if someone has binoculars trained on passing boaters.

















This is a pleasant spot to spend the night so we haven't moved on to Bath as we had intended.  Still, tomorrow is another day.  From here it is on to Bath and then Bristol before we tackle the tidal Avon and Severn if the weather is kind to us.  Fingers are tightly crossed because unless the wind is force 3 or less we won't be going.  We'll see.

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