Wednesday 2 August 2023


Today's Canal - Kennet and Avon

The overnight weather forecast for today suggested wall-to-wall heavy rain.

However, when we awoke, there was plenty of sunshine around, making our mooring seem very pretty.

We had hoped that our lock companions from yesterday might make an appearance and we waited until our normal departure time before giving in and moving down to Tyle Mill Lock. However, as we approached we could see a boat just entering the lock. They spotted us and waited - and, yes, they had crept past so quietly that we had not noticed them! We stayed together until we moored up at lunchtime.

This splendid footbridge across the top of one of the weirs where the river and canal part company for a short while, shows how bright the sky was at this stage.

We had a number of swing bridges today - this was the only manual one. It was a little stiff to start but then moved smoothly enough. As usual when travelling two boats together, we leap frogged at each lock and swing bridge - we managed to get all the swing bridges mostly leaving the other crew to prepare the locks! The landings on the K and A are generally only one boat length and so one boat has to hover mid stream whilst the other does all the work!

At Sulhampstead Lock the top gate footboards (although welcome for those of us who are beam walking challenged) are set fairly low and caught on the long grass so that the gates could not fully open. Enough to get both boats in, however.

We came through Theale Bridge unscathed this time - on the way up we gathered a very visible scape on one cabin side. Although this is a canalised section, at that time there was a very strong flow though the bridge which forced us sideways into the concrete support in the centre of the bridge.

Sheffield Lock, like Aldermaston, was re-built with scalloped sides as a design to give greater strength in softer ground. On the River Kennet section (from Reading up to Newbury) we now discover that almost all of the locks were totally re-built, often to avery different design from the original, during the restoration. Some of the locks were also originally built with only a small rise/fall - this one was retained but elsewhere, such as at Ufton, that we came though yesterday, they were eliminated by combining the level change with an adjacent lock.

Garston Lock has two pillboxes, a relic of the wartime invasion defence line constructed along the Kennet and Avon valleys. This one is somewhat larger than most.

Just after passing under the M4, we passed under this footbridge. We wondered before about what it seems so defended - this time we spotted a small notice that states that this is a flow measurement device.

Burghfield Motor Club is based on an island - formed on one side by the canal here to the left and on the other side by a short river bypass section. From a Google aerial view it does seem as if most of the boats are quite a walk from the entrance and car park.

The last lock we shared with our companions was Southcote, one of the easier locks on the canal.

Whilst they continued on to the Thames via Fobney Lock, we found a mooring just above. Luxury - we were able to get out our chains and moor to armco for the first time in a long while. No need for a plank, either.

No photo yet as just after mooring the threatened rain arrived in bucket-loads! The crew on the other boat must have felt that we made the better judgement call! Our trip plan only expected us to get as far as this - moorings in Reading are rather scarce and, as we discovered on the way down, space at the tesco mooring is far from guaranteed.

After continuous heavy rain, suddenly around 6 o'clock, as if a tap had been turned off, it ceased and was immediately replaced by bright sunshine.

This persuaded Christine to take a walk down to the lock where the overflow behind the lock landing was running as fiercely as ever.

She walked back to the boat via a nature reserve between the canal and the river.

5.8 Miles - 6 Locks

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