Saturday 27 May 2023

Frouds Bridge

Today's Canal - Kennet and Avon

First, to catch up. After three days stranded between Woolhampton and Reading, where each had locks still on red alert, we decided to return home until the flooding had abated. We were very fortunate Andrew had a day off on Friday and was persuaded to come and pick us up. Although only an hour by car,  Devizes to Tyle Mill is around three hours by public transport.

The next Wednesday we planned to drive over to the boat to check it out but late on Tuesday the on-line strong stream warning turned to amber (decreasing). So we quickly packed and set off as soon as we could the next morning, aiming to bring the boat on to Devizes by the end of the weekend. We had medical appointments from Tuesday to the end of the week so that was the constraint.

Half way we had a call back from CaRT only to tell us that Woolhampton had just returned to Red conditions! It was looking like staying that way for another day or so. We continued on to the boat but returned home during the afternoon!

This morning we made a good start and were away well before 10. We needed a stop at Lidl in Newbury for fresh good supplies but were at the boat by noon. Rather than carry everything from the car down the towpath, we again reversed down to the lock landing which was very close to the car park.

Back to the same visitor mooring it was time for lunch. By 2:30 we were ready to untie our mooring ropes to leave Tyle Mill for the last time and continue our journey along the K and A. The photo above shows the junction with the mill stream and where we had been moored, to the right. 

Very soon we were at the next river junction where Ufton Bridge crosses both river and  canal. The section over the canal is mechanised.

The bridge is immediately followed by the remains of the former Ufton Lock, now de-gated - a straight 'drive thru'. This happened during the restoration which brought a number of level changes elsewhere.

Below Towney Lock is a splendid wooden footbridge. Alas, as the picture shows, at the far end there is immediately  a gate with a defiant No Entry sign.

Towney Lock is especially deep and appears to have been substantially re-built at the restoration, with steel piles forming the lock sides.

Immediately above Padworth lock, on the off side, is a sad sight - a badly burnt out boat. A boater coming the other way who moors at the next marina said that it was 'torched' just a few months ago.

Aldermaston Wharf was very busy - it is now a popular ABC hire base which suffered badly with the floods meaning that they had to cancel a lot of early season bookings. Today a number of boats had just left and others were being prepared.

The mechanised lift bridge carries a busy road and it is 'locked out' to boat traffic for a substantial delay after each use and completely at rush hour. Two hire boats went through ahead of us and then closed the bridge. One was turning just below the adjacent lock whilst the other said that they would wait for us to share. However, as soon as they were in the lock they closed both gates and filled the lock!

This lock has scalloped sides, like the one near Theale that we saw earlier on our trip.

No mooring spaces available at Aldermaston Wharf or above the lock so we carried on towards Woolhampton. We tentatively put our bows in at one or two possible places but to no avail, so we (well, Mike at least) were a tad concerned for finding somewhere for tonight. When we looked at Froud's Bridge ten days ago but the towpath was very full - but that was largely with boats trapped by the flooding. We were quite surprised to discover several mooring spaces free and we gladly accepted the second one we tried (the first was just a little too short for comfort).

As Mike settled down to prepare this blog, Christine was upset to discover that she had left her iPad back in the car. It was too far to walk back by the towpath tonight - three miles each way. Then Mike remembered the 1 Jetblack bus service along the A4 that we used a couple of weeks back to visit Reading. There is a stop at the top of Froud's Lane and also one at the turning for Tyle Mill. Both were similar walking distances from the canal, around 8 minutes. So, Christine is now re-united with her constant companion - iPad. The journey was done using a bus pass and both services were exactly to time.

3.0 Miles - 3 Locks

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