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

All Cannings

When we told people we were aiming for All Cannings, most simply laughed, some shook their heads, and a few said ‘you’ll be lucky’. Apparently it is a popular mooring site, with limited space and is usually full. We only had six miles to go, and for a time we are being spoilt, with no Locks to navigate. Progress was fairly slow though, due to the increase in moored boats we are having to pass, with the engine just ticking over. Still the countryside we are passing through, is very scenic and hilly.

Pickled Hill

The stretch of canal passing Pickled Hill was lovely, but mooring would be difficult, and in the reeds, although a couple of boats had managed it. A mile further on we arrived at Honey Street. The Wharf here supplies diesel, so we topped up the tank. We knew we were getting close to our destination, when the chalk horse came into view.

Alton Barnes White Horse

The horse was cut into the Hill in 1812, and on a good day can be seen from 22 miles away. On arrival at All Cannings, we rounded the bend towards the mooring area, and it was nearly full. There was just one spot available, but it looked a little short. Fortunately a chap on an adjoining boat, offered to shuffle up a few feet closing a gap, and it was just enough. We shoehorned ourselves in and secured the boat.

Moored at All Cannings, not much room between boats
White Horse on the Hill in the background

After lunch, we went for a walk along the towpath to the next bridge, a couple of hundred yards away. Four legs was left behind, it was too hot for him, and he was panting. It was much cooler inside the boat. We found the track we were looking for, and also the sign posts to our goal. Our reason for visiting this spot, is one day, not too soon we hope, we will spend an eternity here.

Information on the Long Barrow at All Cannings

The Barrow was built in 2014, and was the first Barrow to be built in the U.K. for over 5000 years. It was the idea of a local farmer, who has given up part of his land for the structure, and is now allowing it to revert back to its original state, of chalk grassland. Inside the Barrow, the stone chambers are built from a central corridor, which is aligned to the sunrise on the winter solstice.

Entrance to the Long Barrow
View along the central corridor

In the photo above, our spot is within the chamber to the left, where the Ammonite fossil is located above the lintel.

Side view of the Barrow
The Barrow blending into the landscape

After visiting our final resting place to be, we wandered into the village to stock up on a few items at the local store. It was a lovely little village shop, but closed for lunch from twelve till three. So we went to the pub for refreshments while we waited for it to open. Tomorrow we will probably aim for Devizes, another Lock free day, but then the following day it’s Caen Hill with its 29 Locks, and no stopping once on the Lock flight.

Totals 6 Miles

Running total 333 Miles 359 Locks 10 Tunnels