Monday 8 May 2023

Tyle Mill

Today's Canal - Kennet and Avon

As forecast, it was wet when we set of at our usual time. The grass around the locks has not be cut for a while and this makes for very wet boots!

The lock cut stretched only a short distance above our mooring - even ski the flow rate was quite substantial and we did not move as fast as expected. But then we passed on to the river proper with the by pass leading down to a weir off to the left of this picture.

Now on the river properly and progress was even more difficult - officially there is no closure here but it must be marginal, even though we did see a number of other boats on the move today.

At Sulhamstead Lock the river junction is very close to the lock and we only stopped being swept sideways just in time to stop on the lock landing, which is only long enough for a single boat (as are most locks on this canal)

The lock needed emptying and there are no footboards on the bottom gates. There are handrails and a stirrup step but this requires a bit more agility than we had at this time of day!) Of course, the lock would not empty on juts one paddle so it was a walk around the top to open the other one and then back again to help tie up the boat as it came into the lock.

Sulhamstead Swing Bridge is only 200 m above the lock so Mike walked to it, hoping to have it open well in time for Christine to bring the boat through. Alas, it was not only a manual bridge but one that took all available effort to start it moving.

The weir for this lock bypass is right alongside the canal and a footpath runs across the top.

One of our main objectives for today was to reach the services at Tyle Mill, the first on this canal. We had not filled with water since Caversham and have done a couple of machine washes as well. Unusually, the tap ran very strongly and we were running over in short order. We also chatted to a boater that moors just above the lock - there are six permanent moorings followed by a couple of visitor moorings. as well as telling us what we knew (that we could not go further than Aldermaston until the river subsides) he also suggested we moor on one of the visitor spaces which just happened to be free!

There is a road swing bridge just below the lock - the gap is so short that the lock needs to be prepared before opening the bridge (to avoid holding up traffic more than necessary - the road is quite busy)

Just as we were about to enter the lock, another boat appeared around the bend in the river and was keen to share with us. They had been moored back at the previous swing bridge, having had quite a difficult winter with their boat, especially the engine. They were on their way to the boatyard at Aldermaston to check the latest fix which at least had got them moving.

We moored on the space that had been suggested - we could hardly believe our luck as it is a good quality mooring. If we are prevented from moving on for a while this will be very helpful. A bus service between Newbury and Reading stops just a short distance up the road from the bridge, on the main A4 Bath Road. We were not unpleased that we had an excuse for not cruising further today as it continued to be rather wet, although there was a short brighter spell just after lunch - it did not last long. One of our shortest cruising days in a long while! It was not even lunch time when we finished tying up.

1.6 Miles - 2 Locks

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