The K&A at last!

The last eighteen months have seen us getting around a fair bit of the inland waterways network. Three crossings of the Pennines, all around the Midlands, out to the Nene and Trent in the east, a foray into Wales on the Llangollen, down to London Town… But always at the back of our mind was the fact that we were planning to leave the Kennet and Avon untouched. Then the grand hurrah of our Severn trip brought the great canal of the south west back into play. Hurrah!

Boating opinions are very mixed about the K&A. It’s a real marmite canal. Some love the scenery, the mix of river and canal, the beautiful towns it passes through. Others say it’s back-breaking and full over overstaying canal boats. For me, it’s neither really. Sure it’s gorgeous in parts – but so are many other canals. It’s definitely not that back-breaking – though maybe that’s just because nothing will ever seem that way after the Calder and Hebble and the Rochdale! And in terms of boats not moving around as they should be staying put and hogging all the temporary visitor moorings – well, I don’t know how bad things were a couple of years ago, but it’s nothing like as bad now as I’d heard and nowhere near as difficult to find a place to moor as London was this time last year.

What the Kennet and Avon has provided is a sense of change. Big city Bristol with its bright lights and its enthusiastic embrace of the water. Laid back, handsome Bath, where we were able to pull up pretty much outside Sue and Neill’s house and drop in for tea (cheers!). The lovely, welcoming towns and villages along the way: Bathampton, Kintbury, Newbury, Devizes. An epic flight of locks! The most gorgeous late summer pootle along the River Kennet yesterday. The K&A is not a one trick pony like, arguably, the Bridgewater (wide, no locks, bit dull) or the Huddersfield Narrow (exciting but unrelentless in locks and tunnel action).

(As a rather long and rambling aside… It’s funny how much the canal ‘management’ varies from one waterway to the other. On the Rochdale is the deepest lock in the country, Tuel Lane Lock, clocking in at about 20 foot deep. It’s operated by three lock-keepers and you’re advised to call ahead and share with another boat if possible. You have to rope up front and stern and try your best to follow what’s going on as lock-keepers shout instructions down from on high before letting the water in very, very gradually. In contrast, Bath is home to Bath Deep Lock, a mere 19 foot and change. This, you operate on your own, with not even a sign from Canal and River Trust to tell you about which paddle to open first. I pity the poor hire boaters who come across this beast with no warning and are thrown from side to side in the (second deepest?) lock , at the mercy of the water that gushes in unpredictably from the sides. Tom says this idiosyncrasy is what makes travelling the canals so fascinating and charming. But he wasn’t at the tiller that day in Bath. So I beg to differ and humbly suggest that CR&T put a sign up.)

And visitors. We’ve had lots of visitors recently too. Thanks to Maman, Luke, David, Suzie, Sue, Neill, Agnes, Joe, Nick and Elizabeth for helping make our final weeks on board Felucca full of great fun and games.

 

Maman takes tiller to steer us towards Bath.

Maman takes tiller to steer us towards Bath.

Royal Crescent porn.

Royal Crescent porn.

Bath Deep Lock. No signs, no lock-keepers, no worries.

Bath Deep Lock. No signs, no lock-keepers, no worries.

Dundas Aqueduct

Dundas Aqueduct

Saxon Church in Bradford on Avon.

Saxon Church in Bradford on Avon.

Botox Bollox.

Botox Bollox.

Sunny day.

Sunny day.

Bit of scenery

Bit of scenery

My what a big lump of coal you have there. Crofton Pump Station Posing.

My what a big lump of coal you have there. Crofton Pump Station Posing.

Maybe I should write a book on weird signs I have seen in pumping stations.

Maybe I should write a book on weird signs I have seen in pumping stations.

Monument to the man Rolt and the other man Aickman. At Crofton.

Monument to the man Rolt and the other man Aickman. At Crofton.

More scenery

More scenery

Tour of Britain sweeps through Hungerford. Go Dowsett (in shot)! Go Wiggo (not in shot)!

Tour of Britain sweeps through Hungerford. Go Dowsett (in shot)! Go Wiggo (not in shot)!

Sunset

Sunset

Sharing locks.

Sharing locks.

Sitting at the lock-side bench donated by Prunella Scales and Tim West

Sitting at the lock-side bench donated by Prunella Scales and Tim West

Nick and Elizabeth - our final visitors :-(

Nick and Elizabeth – our final visitors 😦

Wonder what we're looking at? Not the camera, that's for sure.

Wonder what we’re looking at? Not the camera, that’s for sure.

Nick larks around on the roof one last time

Nick larks around on the roof one last time

Our last ever lock!

Our last ever lock!

 

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Posted in Cruising log, Visitors
2 comments on “The K&A at last!
  1. nsoulsby says:

    Last ever lock!!! *Insert tearful Nick sounds here* Congratulations on eighteen months of panache, grace and canal bound style.

  2. Charles and Sally says:

    What an adventure you guys have had – you certainly have managed to see a lot in your eighteen months on felucca. Thank you for sharing it with us, we will miss your eloquent blogs. Good luck with your next adventure and do let us know how things progress.we hope that one day we will meet up again although it’s unlikely to be sharing a lock next time. Sally and Charles xxx

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