We are now on our way back along the Kennet and Avon navigation, having travelled from Caen Hill to Newbury over the last several days.
Going back a few days, we had a good trip up the Caen Hill locks. Having arranged to share the locks with Richard and Linda on ‘Grandad’s Boat’. The arrival of their friends meant we had 6 of us to share the load. CRT volunteers going ahead and setting the locks on the main flight helped as well. We soon got in to a rhythm and travelling side by side in and out of the locks made life even easier. The 29 locks were soon completed and we were moored up by early afternoon.
After all these locks the next few days were much easier. The near 15 mile ‘long pound’ involved only a few swing bridges.
We had originally planned to have Sunday off but a wet forecast for the Monday meant we swapped our days around. Leaving Wooton Rivers on Tuesday we were back into the locks. After the first two we reached the summit and it’s now down hill all the way to Reading.
Emerging from Bruce Tunnel we had 10 more locks to go including the 7 locks of the Crofton flight. All these locks have to be left empty with the paddles raised, so we had to refill them. Fortunately there were plenty of boats on the move, so the extra work was pretty much balanced out by the number of locks that could be left open.
After being dry for so long the weather has finally turned. Wednesday wasn’t supposed to be a day off but the forecast was for rain all day so we stayed where we were. No one else was moving either apart from a few hire boaters with a deadline to keep.
The 48 hour moorings at Great Bedwyn were all full when we arrived at lunchtime. We managed to moor a bit further along but like most of the other boats on this shallow stretch, our rear end is sticking out several feet and we woke up on a bit of a slope.
The rain continued all day, finally stopping about 8pm. By this time the water level had risen and we were just afloat and able to go to the toilet without holding the door closed.
With this extra down time we have been doing some deep cleaning on the boat. Now that the fire is no longer needed we have been scrubbing all the surfaces to get rid of the last remnants of the coal dust.
We expected the canal to be busy after so little movement on Wednesday but it stayed quiet. In about 4 hours of travel we only saw 4 other boats. The going seemed quite slow with lots of locks to refill. After the busy moorings at Great Bedwyn we were surprised to find Hungerford deserted. A couple of boats arrived later in the day so we didn’t feel like Johnny-no-mates.
This stretch of the navigation is much quieter. We are beyond the range of almost all of the hire boats to the west. The only base to pass now is a couple of days away at Aldermaston.
With the cupboards bare, we hit Tesco for a major restock. This should keep us going until we reach the Thames.
Our destination for Friday was Newbury, a longer day than normal for us. It became even longer as 10 of the 11 locks were empty and needed filling. Once again we only saw a handful of boats all day.
Tomorrow we leave the canal and rejoin the river Kennet. There are a few locks with quite strong currents, so after the recent rain they may be more challenging than on the way up.
We should be back on the Thames in about a week. Our plan is to find somewhere to moor around Abingdon for the holiday weekend. from there it’s on to Lechlade, the limit of navigation.
For the last few months, I have been having a few problems with my MacBook laptop. Frozen screens, shutting down etc. I traced it down to errors caused by a corruption on the hard disc but could not manage to fix it. I found some software that said it could deal with the issue, but at $99 I was resisting buying it. Especially if the result was it telling me the disc was damaged and I needed to spend even more money.
Eventually I found a suggestion on a forum and going to the command line and typing in fsck -fy the corruption was repaired and it all seems to be good again.
38 swing/lift bridges