Saturday, 25 June 2016

A tumble in Devizes. Then Caen Hill.

The time finally came to say cheerio to All Cannings. Our time was up and the weather had finally cleared. Well, it was dry! Having finally shaken off the railway, on our final evening, in the quiet, a nightingale was in full voice. So beautiful.

Our sort of plan was to move through the lock free pound to Devizes. Only three swing bridges barred our way. Whilst it was dry, it was not that warm. Still, we could be moored up by late morning couldn't we?

Erm, nope. We got behind the slowest boat on the whole system. Whilst we are not in a rush, they were travelling at a speed that was less than our tick over. The two elderly (say's he!) ladies on board were also height challenged and on a boat that had so much stuff on the roof, that they could only see ahead by zig zagging the boat along the cut. This of course slowed them even more! Reminded me of a Spitfire manoeuvring for take off, but slowly.

Eventually. We came to a swing bridge. They, in their own sweet time opened it and beckoned us through. Thank the lord. Finally, we made progress.

The canal here abouts is somewhat overgrown in places, with few places to stop. The number of liveaboards is growing exponentially as we continue west, but not too bad at this point. As we approached Devizes, the water seemed to change, with a definite algael bloom on the surface, like a green scum...

There are a great variety of boats along the K&A

As we entered the town's environs, trotting along the towpath was a muntjac deer! (too quick for the camera), they have become almost a pest in places.

Anyway, under the two bridges and into the moorings above the first lock. We watered up, then found a slot beyond the winding hole. We planned a couple of days stay. The launderette beckoned. Whilst we have a washing machine aboard, it's drying that has this year been the problem. Not enough consistent sunshine. So two wash loads completed Tuesday and another two Wednesday. So we really did tumble in Devizes!

On Tuesday evening, it was nice to meet up with an old work colleague, Chris Burley. Can it be nearly ten years since he retired? We had a good chat in the pub, accompanied with a meal for balance. Chris has promised to come and give us a hand up the flight on our return, other commitments permitting .

So, it's the flight next. Twenty nine broad locks in total. Makes Hatton a walk in the park. Hope we can find company, if not it's going to be a hard day!

As luck would have it, as we readied just before 0800, a boat began to prepare the first lock. Ali walked on whilst I slowly made my way forward. We were sorted! N.B Penny Less invited us to join them on the journey down. Another cloudy but humid day, but we were soon in the swing.

Some fantastic views as we descend.

After tackling the first six locks before the flight proper, we has weighed each other's methodology up and we were completely compatible. Both Ali and Martine worked in harmony, as did I and Malcolm. Don't get me wrong, this is a hard slog, especially as there was a widebeam in front of us so the locks were against us, but when each works together, it does make it a pleasure.

There was a steady flow of boats ascending, but not too busy. Very soon we were in the groove, poetry in motion.

At 1205 hrs we began the descent of the last lock and then after 3/4 of a mile, we moored up at Sells Green. A quick shower and the four of us made for the Three Magpies, for a well deserved drink and a meal.

So a major hurdle successfully tackled, without drama.  29 broad locks in just over four hours is good going.
Following a boat down the flight, when the volunteers came on they went to 
help them as we were catching them up

Passing NB Rosie, whom we met on the Thames on their return from Bristol

the view from about half way down

some of the locks you have to exit one by one 

others together is fine

Passing a widebeam

at the bottom of the main flight, 7 to go!

Looking back

we were impressed with this

The next morning we arose surprisingly free of aches and pains. The plan was to tackle the remaining seven locks that drop down to Semmington, then moor up. Once again, we were in company with Martine and Malcolm from NB Penny Less. The lock procedure resumed as did tackling the swing bridges, most of which are in good order.

For once, our timing was out. Whilst our companions managed to get bank side just past the fully occupied visitor moorings, we struggled to get anywhere near the bank. However, just through the next swing bridge we got in and battened down. The rain arrived in torrents, almost monsoonal. Luckily, by early evening, it stopped. So we were able to meet up with Malcolm and Martine at the Somerset Arms.  I had far too much to drink!!!

He really did, and getting him back onboard was shall we say interesting!

one of the downpours

Saturday is one of the busy hire boat change over days. We planned to moor up by lunch time. Only a few swing bridges so an easy, stress free cruise. Well it was until we had dieseled up at Hilperton! Leaving our erstwhile companions to meet up with family, we got behind a hire boat. And I thought the two ladies a few days ago were slow! This one stopped every time a boat approached and when he eventually got moving, our tickover was too fast. We spent the next few miles mainly in neutral!

Luckily, they stopped short of Bradford on Avon. We arrived to find mooring spaces free! Almost unheard of here. So hopped in just before the services and lock. It was sunny when we arrived, but that did not last. The rain, thunder and lightening made for an interesting afternoon and evening. Pity the poor people having collected their hire boat, travelling in that! The spaces left soon filled.

An interesting few days, next towards Bath and Bristol.

I asked John where he took this - he said last night in the pub, he didn't 
he took it the other day in a different pub!

19 miles, 36 broad locks, 9 swing bridges.

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