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

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

Devizes

Just a short post today, to keep our progress up to date. Setting off from All Cannings, it was quite chilly this morning, following some overnight rain. The low cloud still clung to the hills in the distance, but the sun was making attempts to break through. One other boat departed just before us, also heading for Devizes. We had two swing bridges to deal with, encountering a wide beam at one of them, and six miles to navigate. As we arrived at Devizes, the boat ahead of us, found a spot and pulled in. As we passed, it was looking rather full ahead. We were keeping everything crossed, because if we failed to find a mooring spot, we had 29 Locks to deal with, and we didn’t fancy that today. As we approached the Top Lock, we were fortunate. Several spaces were available, so we moored at the start of the visitor moorings. You are allowed 72 hours here, and as the weather is forecast heavy rain for the next day or so, we will probably use that time. We took four legs for a walk down the flight, and spoke with the Lock keeper to confirm that the current restrictions haven’t changed. Then after lunch, we wandered into Devizes to pick up some fruit and veg from the market.

Moored at Devizes, Caen Hill Top Lock in the background

So now we will sit out the bad weather, and look forward to the return of the heatwave next week.

Totals 6 Miles

Running total 339 Miles 359 Locks 10 Tunnels