So yesterday morning over breakfast, we were entertained by fun and games, as numerous hire boats attempted to all get through the Lock at Bradford-on-Avon. An hour and a half later they had all cleared, and we began our passage up the Lock. It later transpired, the reason it took so long, was because none of them were helping each other work the Lock. Still it didn’t affect us so never mind. Cruising towards Semington we found ourselves behind a wide beam, so we were unable to share the locks with them. However a couple of Locks further on, and we both caught up another narrow boat, the wide beam couldn’t go in the Lock with it, but we could. It was a boat well known to us over the past few weeks, nb Lady Penelope. We thought they had got well ahead of us beyond Bath, but appears not. We then shared a couple of Locks at Seend, and both stopped by the Barge Inn, where we had lunch.
The weather was getting hotter by the hour, so we ended up spending the afternoon, and a good portion of the evening in the pub garden as well.
This morning we reversed a hundred yards from the mooring, to use the pump out machine. Then at 9.15 am we were underway. Our aim today was to reach the base of the Caen Hill Lock flight, by the restricted section. We had three miles and ten Locks to navigate, and wanted to time our arrival for about 12 noon. Hopefully this would mean, any boats waiting to go up the flight would have gone, and any coming down would not yet have arrived. There was not much to slow our progress today, but you do need to keep an eye open in what can be treacherous waters.
We arrived at our chosen destination at 11.55am, so perfect timing, and the mooring was vacant. Both us and nb Lady Penelope, are now in pole position to ascend Caen Hill tomorrow.
Yesterday we departed the river Avon at Bath. The bad weather of the previous day had gone, but the conditions on the river were still blustery. Fortunately at the point you turn off the river, onto the Kennet and Avon Canal, it was a little more sheltered whilst waiting for the Lock to be prepared.
With the help of some volunteers who had turned up early, we were up the flight in just under an hour, and this included navigating the huge Bath Deep Lock. The next stretch to Bathampton was slow going, mainly due to a continuous line of moored boats, but once we made the turn towards Claverton, it was plain sailing. We now had two miles to our intended spot at the Dundas Aqueduct. We found a spot opposite where we moored on the way down. The mooring was a little shallow, so the stern of the boat was about four feet from the bank, but it did not impede the navigation.
This morning after breakfast, we moved across to the water point and filled the tank. We also gave the starboard side of the boat a quick wash. Where we have been mooring in Bath, the towpaths have been converted to a grey grit surface, probably for the benefit of the cyclists. The problem is, said cyclists speeding past, throw up dust and grit which covers the boat. Once our jobs were completed, we set off for Bradford-on-Avon, a distance of four miles away. A suitable mooring was located very close to the Tithe Barn, so we secured the boat, then went off to explore the town.
Inside the Tithe Barn
Bradford-on-Avon is quite busy, but this is probably due to it being the height of the school holidays. We have noticed a significant increase in hire boat traffic over the past week, but tomorrow is a change over day for the hire fleets, so hopefully things will be a little quieter on the Canal.
Today we had an easy day ahead of us, which was just as well due to the impending heatwave we have been forecast. At 9 am there was still mist hanging over the Canal, but this did not last long. We had a couple of manual swing bridges to deal with, before arriving at Bradford-on-Avon. We had also been warned that from now on, the number of moored boats would mean spending most of our time with the engine on tick over. The only Lock we had to navigate is located close to the centre of the town, and was being manned by at least four volunteers. Probably due to the fact there is a nice tearoom overlooking the Lock. Whilst mooring on the approach into Bradford-on Avon would be tight, there was plenty of opportunities to tie up on the other side of the town. Our next landmark was the Avoncliff Aqueduct, where the canal performs a couple of sharp 90 degree turns to carry it over the river below.
The Canal now runs along the side of several deep gorges and parallel to the railway line, following the course of the River Avon. A couple of miles further on we crossed our second Aqueduct, the Dundas Aqueduct. There was plenty of visitor mooring here, and at the far end, some much needed shade. The Aqueduct was built from stone in 1804, and is named after the first chairman of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company.
In the photo above the Canal is to the left. To the right is the entrance to the former Somersetshire Coal Canal. This Canal opened in 1805, and was built to supply coal to Bath and Bristol, from the Somerset coal fields. At its peak it was serving 30 collieries. It was finally abandoned in 1904, so this remarkable feat of engineering, lasted just 100 years. A small section has been restored, and now operates as private moorings and boatyard.
At the end of the Coal Canal Arm is a cafe, where we had lunch and an ice cream. Wandering back to the boat, you get a better side view of the Dundas Aqueduct.
We are now on the outskirts of Bath which we should reach tomorrow. This means we will be timing our approach to Bristol, to coincide with the neap tides, so the tidal section of the River Avon should be fairly benign.