Having completed the Caen Hill flight, this post covers the journey from Foxhangers to Bath and back. After 75 miles Bath was our turn around point on the Kennet and Avon.
Foxhangers to Bath and Back
After a long day with 29 locks and the following day forecast to be windy, we called halt and had a day off. Moored opposite Foxhangers hire boat yard, we watched all the boats coming in and the new hirers heading off and all from a safe distance.
On The Saturday we headed off ourselves, for a half day journey through 7 locks to Semington. By midway we caught up with some of the hire boats and shared a few locks with one of them. We then caught up with another boat who seemed to be struggling. Twice they ended up across the canal when trying to moor at the landing points. Being in no hurry we hung back and did the last 2 locks by ourselves.
Now we are no longer needing to use the multi fuel stove we decided to give the boat interior a good clean. The coal dust just seems to get everywhere over the course of the Winter. So it was out with the sugar soap and we cleaned all the walls, ceilings, books, furniture, curtains and more.
On Sunday we made the short journey to Bradford-on-Avon. Being a sunny day the tourists were out in force and we had a constant stream of people passing the boat. We stayed here in a cottage a few years ago as it has historical significance to me. My maternal family came from this area and my great-great-great-great-grandfather left here in the 1820s to move to Wakefield. To be more accurate he was an indentured weaver and ran away from his master. A reward of £5 for his return was advertised in the local newspaper but he evaded capture and went on to marry and have 11 children and over 80 grand-children.
Another day another journey, this time onwards to Bath. We had been warned that it would be slow going as there are so many long-term moorers along the route. Many on proper moorings but also many staying long term on 14 day moorings.
In over 3 hours of travel I think the longest burst I managed at normal speed was about 3 minutes. It was however a beautiful journey with a scenery of steep woodland and lush valleys.
We were surprised that the 48 hour moorings that we were aiming to stop at had plenty of space and by the end of the day only 2 more boats arrived.
From our mooring it was only 10 minutes to a winding hole. In between there were 2 tunnels, though at 50 and 54 meters we have been under motorway bridges that were longer. We could have continued through Bath dropping down 6 more locks and joining the River Avon on to Bristol. We had already decided that this point would be where we turned round and head back the 75 miles to the Thames.
A day out walking
Having been to Bath and done the main tourist attractions previously, we decided to have a walk on our day off. We chose a very enjoyable walk from the Walking World website which headed through town passing the main attractions. It then followed the Cotswold Way as it climbed steeply out of Bath and then headed west, dropping down to the river. It was then about 3 miles along the river and canal back to the boat.
In the locks we got talking to another boat crew who we had seen a few times. They are planning to head up Caen Hill on the same day as us and also have friends joining them. We swapped numbers and agreed to meet up and share the locks with them.
On our way back
On Wednesday we headed back to Bradford-on-Avon as we had planned to meet up with my sister and her husband who were on a short break in the area. They managed to park near our boat but followed the river instead of the canal. They then found their way back to the canal but went in the wrong direction. From 100 yards away they ended up doing well over a mile.
We had an enjoyable catch up and a stroll around the town before they headed off to their hotel in Salisbury. Hopefully we will see them again when we head further north and maybe we can set them on as apprentice lock labourers. Something tells me they may follow family tradition and run away though.
Thursday brought up the 400 mile mark of our trip and was also 2 months since we set off. Heading across the flat lands and on a mission, we did the first hundred miles in one week. So our pace has definitely slowed now.
Stopped off for diesel on the way at an excellent 61.9p per litre. Our last fill up was over 100 hours ago.
We were aiming for Sells Green but as the 5 Seend locks are being closed from 4pm for maintenance work. With the moorings between them unavailable , we knew Sells Green would be busy. Water levels have been a problem here and they are being closed overnight for 3 days to fix the problem. We got through with water levels quite low but at one point there were about 10 boats aground behind us.
The swing bridges in this area have been suffering recently. One was hit by a hire boat earlier in the week and it went past its stopper and stuck. We had trouble with another one which was scraping the wall after being hit. The only way to open it was to push down on the arm to tilt the other end up and clear the brickwork. A third bridge is chained open after suffering damage a few weeks ago. I hope CRT are able to claim the cost back from the hire companies. I understand that on at least two of them the damage was witnessed by other boaters.
33 swing/lift bridges