Friday, 15 July 2016

Ooh , we are naughty!

Well, the time finally came to say goodbye to the beautiful town of Devizes. For the second time this trip, we have really enjoyed our stay. Not saying having a local brewery has anything to do with it, of course!

When we left, it was a little dismal. No heavy rain, but not much sunshine either. As we are in a long, lock free pound, it was easy travelling. Only a couple of swing bridges to impede our progress . Even travelling at a steady pace we made progress. But, there are also many moored boats, so also much time spent on tickover. Just after leaving the town's environs, and commenting on the number of wide beams moored in congregation, low and behold another came towards us. Quick reverse and tuck in so he could squeeze past. Get going again, commenting on how narrow the canal looks due to the vegetation and a wide hotel boat hove into view. Another breath in and squeeze moment.

Loads of room!

Glad we didn't meet them along this section

We had no direct plan to moor anywhere really. But it became obvious that something had been afoot in the area over the previous weekend. There were boats moored everywhere. Passing All Cannings, moorings full. But Honey Street was dead? Not however, Wilcot and Pewsey. The area was rammed. So we pottered on.

The next port of call was Wootton Rivers. We did not really want to go on much further, as there be locks! Lock 51 is left empty, so was in our favour, but it was getting on for late afternoon. Just prior to the lock landing there are permit holder moorings. Now when we came past last time, half of these appeared unoccupied and remained so now! Ali walked above the lock and it was rammed.

So we were naughty! Reversed back and onto the vacant permit holders mooring just prior to the landing. We were quite prepared to move should the holder arrive, but they didn't and we suspect never will as it is probably vacant. So we had a decent mooring for the night.

Our mooring!

That said, by 0730 the next morning, we were off! We made use of the water point here as well, just to compound our misdemeanour. Back into lock 51, and up we went. As we neared the top, a boat pulled off from the moorings, making haste but travelling in the same direction as us. By the time we reached the second lock of our day, they were halfway up, but a gent did explain they were in a hurry!!! Anyway, they agreed to wait for us at the next lock. Considering this section had been closed due to a pump failure and lack of water, so they should as well. Anyway, we subsequently joined them and travelled up and over the summit with them, or rather behind them, Coz "they were in a hurry".  Wrong sort of holiday for them methinks, although it was not an obvious hire boat! (possibly a share boat?)

We finished the morning off, moored up below Crofton pumping station. Staying put as the forecast for the afternoon was not good. Plenty of room here now. As we arrived though, several boats were just leaving, including a few wide beam hire boats. So glad we avoided meeting them!

Oh, and we are back accompanying the railway. Joy!

Yes please! (I'm not greedy just one!)

The summer wild flowers are in bloom

Thursday dawned bright. We had both slept well, undisturbed by the trains. Probably due to our evening walk! The moorings were full, with boats facing both ways, do we decided to crack on and by 08:00 hrs, we were in the first lock. The practice here is to leave locks empty and so, the prep work can be a little tedious. Having to fill lock prior to entering.

Whether due to the stoppage at Caen Hill, or just the time of the week, it was quiet. Hardly a boat moving for quite a while. In all honesty, working down alone is really no harder than being in company with another boat, simpler at times.

By lunch time, well 1315, we had reached Hungerford. After all those locks, time for a rest. The visitor moorings above the lock and near the church had but one boat resident, so in we went. Time for a Tesco shop, so out came the trolley! Gosh, that makes me feel old, but bottles are heavy!

 Ali, pushing the swing bridge back across Hungerford Marsh Lock

That evening saw us once again visiting the John of Gaunt and enjoying a meal and a drink or three. Slept well again, wonder why?

Friday. The promised heatwave had not arrived. In fact it was decidedly chilly and we even had some fine rain. On the plus side, the first three locks were in our favour, unusual on this canal, especially as we were descending. We made good time to Kintbury and so carried on. Of course, once we hit the river, practice is to leave the locks empty, so we (Ali) had to fill first. There was again, very little boat traffic, in fact we saw no more than five boats moving and two of these were day hires. The countryside here is very scenic. The canal/river passing meadows and wooded hillsides. Of course, the railway is always your companion, but not intrusive, until they blow the horn before you are aware of the actual train.

Towpath repairs, they moved across when they saw us

Once again, our journey terminated just after one, when we entered Newbury. Just passed the swing bridge and before the lock, there is a mooring for one boat on the offside, favoured by Martine and Malcolm, and spotted by us on the way through.  It was free, so in we went. Only one boat on the visitor moorings on the towpath side as well. It is strangely quiet. Well it was, until some inept individual decided that we made a good fender and struck our stern a fair whack whilst bow thrusting his way onto the swing bridge landing. There is really no excuse, apart from inability. Once again, this was a private boater.

We think we will have a day off Saturday. A few jobs to do and a respite before we crack on towards the Thames.

Second brood chicks

Landrover top - pram hood!

Total distance 33 miles 4.5 furlongs and 34 locks.  7 moveable bridges and 1 tunnel Savernake Tunnel (Bruce Tunnel) 502 yards long.

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