Crofton

Since our last post, we have navigated two of the main obstacles on the Kennet and Avon, Caen Hill and the Summit Level. We ascended Caen Hill on Sunday 4/8. The weather was fine and sunny, which brought many tourists to the flight. I lost count at the number of photographs and videos that were taken. We moored at the top of the sixteen Locks in the pound by the cafe, which is where we had lunch and an ice cream.

Caen Hill Locks, looking back down the flight

The next morning we had a relatively short cruise, as we travelled just one mile and six Locks to the top of the flight. We took a mooring just before the winding hole, then visited the town of Devizes for supplies.

Moored in Devizes

Tuesday 6/8. We were now navigating ‘the long pound’ fifteen miles with no locks. We were aiming for either All Cannings, or Honey Street. The choice was made for us when passing All Cannings, it was full. At Honey Street we found a mooring by the Barge Inn, which is also below the White Horse.

Moored at Honey Street
Alton Barnes White Horse

On Wednesday 7/8. we continued travelling through the Vale of Pewsey, heading for Pewsey Wharf. First we had to stop at Honey Street Wharf, for water and diesel. We had filled here on route to Bristol, so it would be interesting to see how much diesel we had used. It was 88 litres. We were once again travelling with nb Lady Penelope, and arriving at Pewsey Wharf we were lucky, two spaces were available. We were now only two miles away from Wootton Rivers Bottom Lock, and the start of the restricted Summit Level.

Thursday 8/8. At 8.30 am we set off for the summit crossing. Our transit up Wootton Rivers Locks was fairly speedy, there were only nine boats in the group. We then had a short cruise across the top of the Kennet and Avon, including passage through the Bruce Tunnel.

502 yds Bruce Tunnel ahead

Descending the further side of the summit, we opted to stop part way down the Crofton Lock flight by Crofton Pumping Station. Although it was likely the limited mooring at Great Bedwyn would be full, the main reason for stopping here, the beam engine is going to be fired this weekend. This was an opportunity not to be missed. We secured the boat, then went for lunch at the cafe in the engine house.

Moored at Crofton, pump house in the background

Today we walked into the nearby village of Wilton, before the high winds, and heavy rain which has been forecast arrives. Perched on top of the hill overlooking the village, is a fine example of a working windmill. Closed to visitors today, but we were able to access the grounds.

Windmill overlooking Wilton
A non working day, sails neatly folded

On our way back to the boat, we spotted an excellent sign, black smoke billowing from the smoke stack at the engine house. Clearly the boilers were being fired, ready for work tomorrow. One other benefit of stopping where we have, due to the restrictions in place on the flight, we are currently locked in, so there has been no passing traffic.

Totals Sunday 4/8. 1 Mile 16 Locks

Monday 5/8. 1 Mile 6 Locks

Tuesday 6/8. 7 Miles

Wednesday 7/8. 5 Miles

Thursday 8/8. 6 Miles 10 Locks 1 Tunnel

Running total 433 Miles 469 Locks 15 Tunnels

Rowde (Bottom of Caen Hill)

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.

Moored opposite Barge Inn, Seend

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.

Anti ship mines in the water

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.

Totals 2/8. 7 Miles 5 Locks

3/8. 3 Miles 10 Locks

Running total 413 Miles 437 Locks 14 Tunnels

Sells Green

At about 9.15 am, boats began arriving in the pound we had spent the night. The first to arrive, would be our locking partner for the day. The water levels in the pounds looked quite good, so we assume that the long awaited repaired pump, has been installed and is working well. Just before 10 am, the Lock keeper removed the padlocks and we were on our way. As the Locks were so close together, and in a straight line, we were able to exit and enter the Locks simultaneously as a pair, which made the whole process quicker and easier. At the bottom of the sixteen Locks, the other boat found a mooring spot, and was intending on stopping for the day. We still had a further seven Locks to do, but not before taking a photo, looking back at where we had come from.

Caen Hill Locks

On arrival at Sells Green, we found a fair bit of mooring available, and so took our choice of spot. We had thought of filling with water, but given the amount of boat traffic, we decided against that idea, in case all the available mooring quickly disappeared. We have seen a significant increase in the number of hire boats today, then it dawned, the school holidays have begun.

Moored at Sells Green

We wandered off to the local pub, the Three Magpies, to see if they were still serving lunch. But we had arrived too late so sadly not. Lunch was had onboard, then we spent the afternoon relaxing aka recovering, from all the Lock work we had done.

Totals 2 Miles 23 Locks

Running total 342 Miles 388 Locks 10 Tunnels

Caen Hill

We have decided to cheat, we didn’t fancy 29 Locks in one day, that sounds too much like hard work. We had some heavy rain overnight, but by 11am the skies were clearing. There had been quite a bit of traffic going down the Lock flight this morning, so we took four legs for his walk, to see how it was progressing. The first six Locks are unrestricted, and just prior to the restriction there is visitor mooring for two boats. We returned to the boat and began our descent. We would likely reach the mooring spot before encountering those ascending the flight. Three Locks down and we passed the Black Horse P.H. with its bankside mooring empty.

Descending Lock three, Black Horse P.H. to the left.

We arrived at our intended spot, just as the boat traffic ascending began to arrive. We secured the boat, then went along to the small Lock cafe for lunch. We are now well placed for the opening of the flight at 10 am tomorrow, and instead of 29 Locks, we only have 23 to do.

Moored on Caen Hill flight

The first six Locks are spread over just under a mile, the next sixteen are clumped together in half a mile, so quite a steep hill. The Canal is lowered by 130 feet through these 16 Locks.

Totals 1 Mile 6 Locks

Running total 340 Miles 365 Locks 10 Tunnels