Wednesday 31 May 2023


Today's Canal - Kennet and Avon

The promised photo of our overnight mooring in the reeds does not do justice to how it felt! The width of the reed bed meant that we were rather more away from a firm bank than it looks.

As we were beginning to set about casting off - a complicated operation in the context - a boat came up behind us and we let it pass before we fully released ourselves. Fortunately they waited for us at the nearby lock and we shared this and the next at Kintbury.

At Kintbury a horse drawn wide beam boat offers trips along the canal. Not long after we arrived a coach load of eager passengers arrived.

Both we and the lock sharer needed to fill up with water - we arrived second at the lock so had to wait. This was the first CaRT full service facility since Tyle Mill so whilst we waited for the water point we were able to complete the other chores. All the time we were at the lock there was at least one other boat, sometimes two, in the queue for water!

Eventually we were able to continue our journey. Just after leaving we could look  back at these splendid buildings - we believe that the main one on the left is the former vicarage. This house dates from 1860 - and earlier building on this site (see) was visited several times by Jane Austen (she described the village a famous for its apples!). The present day Vicar lives in a more manageable modern property elsewhere in town.

At bridge 78 some work was in  progress preparing for re-pointing the facing brickwork. We guess that these were volunteers as this is rarely a task for a budget can be dedicated.

At Brunsdon Lock there was another volunteer working party - this time cutting grass, painting gates and cill markers, checking for items that might need specialist attention and so on. They were also keen to help boats through - always welcome.

Dun Mill Lock has its offside abutting private property. It would appear that successive owners have been very keen to protect their privacy - one sign says that only boat operators are allowed that side. 

Unfortunately at the moment, the towpath side top paddle is out of order. This is perhaps the first we have seen on the K and A - quite remarkable given that the gates especially are beginning to show their age and are giving rise to a greater frequency of short term closures for emergency repairs.

We moored at lunch time is the first space we could find close to the wooden footbridge, as this is very close to the Tesco in Hungerford. In the end, milk was the only real priority but, with a short list of four items, Mike went off after lunch leaving Christine to sort of laundry for tomorrow.

When we set off again we immediately passed under the bridge that carries the main road into the town's high street.

We did not need to worry about finding a mooring - the main visitor mooring for the shops was completely empty (part is reserved for a trip boat which passed us earlier)

At Hungerford Lock a boater moored nearby came to see if he could help. We chatted about swing bridges as he was concerned to tell us that the next one was rather difficult. He then offered to go and prepare it so when we reached Church Swing Bridge we sailed straight through! Thanks, mate!

Hungerford Marsh Lock is unusual as it has a swing bridge right across the middle. It seems to carry a popular waking footpath. A family of several small children came enthusiastically to help.

Cobblers Lock was our last for today (hence the title of this blog entry!) It is also unusual as it has a lock cottage alongside - of course, now privately owned.

The lock also had an additional task for us: as well as the Please Leave Empty that we have found at several locks today, there is a new IMPORTANT instruction about closing the bottom gates. This took a but more fulfilling than it might seem as the offside lock kept shutting itself before we could get back to close the towpath side FIRST!

Below the lock, a CaRT work boat was moored, carefully just off the end of the landing. We felt that this gave us permission to do the same above the lock. As a result we had a rather simpler process than last night.

A pleasant end to an often cloudy and cooler day.

6.3 Miles - 8 Locks

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