Milkhouse Water, Vale of Pewsey

Today was the big day, crossing the summit level of the Kennet and Avon Canal, subject to the Canal and River Trust unlocking the gates. We slipped our lines at 8am, and took up a position on the water point. We decided to fill the tank, in case we got stuck somewhere. After a short refill, we navigated towards the queue of boats also waiting below the the locked Lock. There was one wide beam, a yacht minus its mast, and six paired narrow boats. What was coming over from the other side, only time would tell. Most of the Locks were being managed by CRT volunteers, and good progress was being made on the ascent of the Crofton Lock flight. This consists of seven Locks, and next to the third Lock is the pump house for the beam engine.

Crofton beam engine

This beam engine is the oldest working engine, that is still working in its original location, and is capable of pumping two tons of water to the summit, with each stroke of the beam. I think CRT should stop worrying about repairs to their electric pumps from Sweden, and get this splendid example of British engineering fired up, and back in action. Several of the pounds had been low on water, but nothing too onerous. On reaching the summit we were under instructions not to stop for lunch, as someone had last week, they got locked in. I suspect that may have been their plan. Through Bruce tunnel at 502 yards, it was here you could see the drop in water level, about a foot down on its usual height. By now we had encountered most of the opposing traffic, which included a couple of wide beams, and soon we approached the Top Lock of the Wootton flight. Four more Locks and we were done for the day. It was now we found the seriously low water. In two of the pounds, even in the centre of the channel progress was slow, as we ploughed a furrow in the silt. We had been tipped off about a spot of deep water mooring at Milkhouse Water. It was obvious where the mooring was when we arrived, as several other boats were already here. We found a spot and secured the boat on pins. Even here the stern of the boat is three foot from the bank, due to the limited depth of water. We also managed to find the only gap in the trees, so TV via the satellite dish was available.

Moored in the reeds, Milkhouse Water

Tomorrow we have a short day, as we head towards All Cannings. We have a particular reason to visit here, but all will soon become clear.

Totals 7 Miles 14 Locks 1 Tunnel

Running total 327 Miles 359 Locks 10 Tunnels

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