Tuesday, 14 June 2016

We be boggered, almost!

Since our last post, we have continued slowly west in glorious sunshine. This really is a very beautiful canal, or is it a river with canalised sections?

Whatever, it is sure lacking on the facility front! Now we have, without becoming too anal, three toilet cassettes . We were fast approaching starting the third when we got to Newbury. We are trying to set a slow pace, but sometimes, needs must.

We managed to find a brilliant mooring just short of the town and settled in for a day or two. We really enjoy this place, all the better shops are represented, even a John Lewis and a M&S. So over a couple of days, we selectively shopped, stocked up and felt good.

Apart from the bog! Well sorted that eventually by stopping for fuel, and making use of their facilities. The relief was palpable!

This really is a very civilised area. When in Thatcham, several girls walked past to enjoy a BBQ at the lock. The next morning, there was no trace of their visit. They enjoyed, then cleared up when finished. Wish some boaters were as consciousness.  The river is becoming more benign as well and even  Newbury lock was a doddle, for once!

Heading for the town lock

The weather has smiled on us of late. It has been rather hot. We have tried to take it uber easy, averaging perhaps five locks per day. But sometimes, with nowhere to moor, you just have to plough on and even do eight locks!!!

As a reward, we moored up in Kintbury, had our second shower of the day after washing off the dust from the boat , then went to the pub. I enjoyed my meal, although Ali's was a tad over done! Beer prices are certainly on the up now! Bloody southerners, why do you tolerate it?

So we were moored in Kintbury, next to a water point, a spit from an Elsan point and more especially a pub. Bliss...

A wrens nest hidden in the trunk

The water was so clear and lots of fish, not that they ate 
enough of the weed on the bottom of the boat

Then the weather turned. Nothing drastic. Still warm enough, but with the hint of rain. We have had a few showers, but seem to have missed the downpours. The nature of this weather means that it can be very localised. We have heard the thunder, but thankfully, the associated downpours seem to have just missed us whilst travelling. Not that we have gone far.

Really?? Missed the downpours - short memory me thinks - Ali

After leaving Kintbury, we made the short hop to Hungerford to linger for the weekend. Luckily, whilst it was busy below the lock, the visitor moorings above were empty, so we hopped in. A rather nice town. It holds for me though, memory of the tragedy in the mid 80's, which caused the drastic amendment of Firearms legislation. Caused the Police service a lot of work, but highlighted just how lax the procedure had become.

  Lock with a swing bridge over the middle, its a footpath and is well used!

First flowering water lilies

It remains though, a very pleasant place, very middle England and none the worse for that. We enjoyed a rather nice Sunday lunch at a hostelry north of the bridge, plus a drink or three.

But time soon arrived to say farewell, and passing through the swing bridge next to the splendid church, we continued west. We are still ascending and the locks remain hard work, alone, but at least ground paddles are the norm and we can loosely follow the GU pattern. The initial plan was to stop at Great Bedwyn. But it was full. So after using the services, we carried on up the locks to Crofton. By this time, the drizzle had arrived. But joy, the pound was empty, so we moored with ease and then visited the excellent cafe at the pumping station. We enjoyed probably the best sandwich of the year. Not cheap though.

This is a lovely spot. A lake and stream one side, the pumping station cradling the hill on the other. But...the railway line hugs the canal here, even more so than over the rest of the route. It can be noisy at times. Brilliant moorings though.
the train!

Today we have spun around. We need to be in Bedwyn tomorrow, in order to find a mooring to catch a train the following day, so it's proximity does have some advantages.

 Also, checked the engine, as we had a squeak! Turned out the bolts holding on one of the alternators had worked loose. Methinks they had not been fully tightened at the last service. But partly my fault for lack of diligence. Hopefully, all is now well, since tightening up. At least the squeak has gone!

Total distance is 18 miles, 27 locks and 5 moveable bridges.

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