Kennet & Avon Canal - May 2005
Devizes to Bath
This was our second week on Sojourn and quite a different
experience (especially weather-wise!). Since our February trip, Andrew
& Alison had taken (and passed) a RYA Inland Waters Helmsmans
Certificate (IWHC) course so feeling a bit more confident in handling
Friday 27th May 2005
Andrew arrived by public transport, via Cardiff where he had
had a meeting earlier, at 5pm. Had a wander round Devizes (very hot
weather) followed by a pizza and 2 pints of Wadworth Henrys at the Bell
Inn.Alison and kids arrived around 9.20pm. Car unloaded and excess
bedding etc moved to car to avoid clutter. All stowed fairly quickly
and headed for bed by 10:45pm - it's a long way from North Wales to
Saturday 28th May 2005
Devizes to Rowde (3m, 23 locks inc Caen Hill flight)
A leisurely start, partly because we were hemmed in by other boats on
all sides. Since the hire boats to one side looked as if they has hours
of preparation to go, we asked for Solar May outboard of us to be
moved, so we were off by 10:30. Found lock gates at the start fairly
heavy but thankfully one or two of the vast throng of spectators gave
us a hand. We were into the Caen Hill flight proper by around 12:15.
About 1/3 of the way down the oil pressure warning started to shout at
us. We topped up with what spare oil there was but it soon started
again. Andrew went ahead to see if he could find more supplies at
Foxhanger Wharf while Alison nursed the engine down the rest of the
flight. The BW lock-keeper was extremely helpful through all our
troubles even carrying the oil from Foxhangers back to the boat on his
quad bike! A call to the Ownerships hotline got an engineer to us by
around 18:00. To his intense embarrassment, the engineer discovered
that during the previous oil change, the old filter seal had remained
stuck to the engine (un-noticed). The new filter had obviously made an
initial seal which failed once the engine had warmed up a bit...
Problem soon fixed once identified. Stayed put for bangers & mash
in a lovely fresh sunny evening.
A deeply energetic day - even though we hadn't got all the way
through all of the Devizes locks - meant a glass or two of beer was
strictly medicinal. And thanks to the kids, devoted crew members,
sandwich makers and orange squash dispensers throughout today's trials!
Sunday 29th May 2005
Devizes to Seeend (8m, 14 locks and assorted swing bridges)
8ish. Toast for breakfast as nearly out of milk. Nine locks to do
before meeting up with Gobeys. Underway around 09:10. Topped up water
at Foxhangers. Singly through locks 27-22. Several swing bridges
encountered but luckily other boats in front to work them. Paired up
through locks 21 & 20. Aussie sounding team and kangaroo drawing on
side of their boat. Steerer told Andrew that there was a mooring
outside the pub just through bridge 153. Miraculously given the time
(12:00 on Sunday) it was free! So got moored right outside the pub!
Lots of spectators! Gobeys had arrived around 11:15 so we went straight
into the Barge Inn (Seend). Excellent meal (Andrew - Steak with
peppercorn sauce, Alison - Steak & kidney pie, Laura - Aubergine,
feta & field mushroom strudel, Marc - Roast beef & Yorkshire
pud (not pleased about child portion!)). Puds followed (A&A lemon
and lime cheesecake, Marc chocolate fudge cake and Laura brownies with
CUSTARD(!)). All washed down with a couple of pints of Wadworth Henry's.
Off around 2pm. Had to squeeze out through willow tree as
another boat had breasted up. Alison later thought that the branches
had swept her bag overboard but she had put it away... Pottered down to
Semington. Moored up to visit the shop to buy milk. Shop no longer
exists. Bad Nicholson! Bad! Julian found a Good Samaritan who gave us
two pints of milk and would not take payment! Headed back as far as
Seend bottom lock where Gobeys left us to walk up to car. Needed to use
gangplank as lots of reeds. Bacon lettuce & tomato sarnies while
watching Top Gear. Bed around 10pm. Andrew tried pulling out the double
bed but rather squeaky!
Monday 30th May 2005
Seend to Bathampton (15m, 9 locks)
Off around 09:30. Up 3 locks to winding hole near Barge Inn. Took all
morning to get back to overnight mooring! Jacket potatoes, baked beans
& cheese on the go for lunch. Pushed on towards Bath throughout the
afternoon. Lovely countryside, green valleys, dense woodland and farm
fields. Quite busy with lots of moored boats and oncoming traffic. One
boat not watching and rammed us head on. Alison (who was steering
Sojourn at the time and, in case we haven't mentioned, is a qualified
helmsman) was not impressed!
Around 17:45 found excellent mooring outside the George at
Bathampton! Nice meal though Andrew very disappointed by lack of
advertised New York cheesecake. Two pints of Morland Old Speckled Hen
helped to ease the pain! Fine evening. Saw hot air balloon.
Tuesday 31st May 2005
Bathampton to Bathampton! (2.5m, 0 locks)
into Bath and spent pleasant half-day shopping and sightseeing. Roman
baths very interesting with Audioguide devices allowing a lot of
flexibility in how you go round and the depth to which you explore. On
arrival in Bath very welcome lattés and hot chocolates. Lunch in
Burger King followed by rather nice Ben's cookies (Buy 5 get 2 free!).
Laura got her eye-liner and Andrew a car charger for new phone. Kids
too tired to walk back to Sojourn so Andrew went and fetched her and
soloed down to winding hole just before Bath Top Lock.
Picturesque passage down to Bath as the canal company went to
a lot of effort to build pretty bridges etc to pacify the landowners
who weren't keen on a working canal passing through their land.
While waiting for Andrew Alison and kids went into Bath Abbey
where Kings Consort were rehearsing. Perfect for Alison. Marc won a
ruler doing a treasure hunt round the Abbey.
Back at the boat, kids climbed on board before winding complete and grounded the bows. Andrew a tad ratty about this!
Headed back to Bathampton and moored back in the same place
(though facing the other direction of course!). Had a bottle of lager
accompanied by olives & pork scratchings bought earlier in Bath
market where the kids also got a book each. Later had a pint of Abbott
Ale in the pub before returning to eat chili and rice while watching
"Lion King". Good film despite Laura's constant criticisms!
Wednesday 1st June 2005
Bathampton to Seend (13.5m, 3 locks)
Not exactly flaming June. Cool and misty start to day.
Underway around 09:45. Alison to shop first for milk and lardie cake!
Planning to stop for brief explore of Bradford on Avon which looked
very nice on way down. Aiming for Seend area by end of day ready to
ascend Caen Hill on Thursday.
to rain around 11:20. Had coffee and remains of Ben's cookie to ease
the pain... Passed Sapphire (Ownerships?). Rain continued most of the
day which kept most other boats on their moorings. Moored below Seend
bottom lock. Didn't stop at Bradford on Avon in the end due to the
rain. Considered wandering up to the Barge but stayed on board and had
chicken korma instead.
Thursday 2nd June 2005
Seend to Devizes (5m, 34 locks)
Early start to attack the Caen Hill flight. Through 5 Seend locks and
then paused at Foxhanger Wharf to get water and pay for oil from
Paired up with Silent Swan who initially were just going to do
the first 7 locks but eventually did the whole journey to Devizes with
us. Fairly event-free trip up the flight apart from an encounter with
Mr Angry about 2/3 of the way up. Our crew had just turned a lock as we
were a lot closer than the Sally Boats Eve coming down. Mr A. then
proceeded to tell anyone who would listen (and quite a few who
wouldn't) how terrible this was. He apparently is an "experienced
boater even though he was on a hire boat today" (NB: he brought up the
hire boat thing not us) and that we as owners should know better!
(being called an owner was quite nice though...) What he failed to
mention was that he was descending the flight alone not paired up and
so "wasting" 1/2 a lockful every time whereas we who had paired up
through the entire ascent were making far better use of the locks. His
companion on the boat looked distinctly embarrassed!
We arrived at Devizes around 17:30 where we collapsed round a
beer and the remainders of the olives from Bath. Later went into town
for excellent pizzas at the Bear. Alison on the Summersault and Andrew
on the Henry's again (both Wadworth naturally). Retired fairly early.
Friday 3rd June 2005
Devizes to Devizes Marina (1m, 0 locks)
Up early (07:30) to finish log and start packing. "Solong" who
had moored just ahead left around 8am. We got away around 09:30 for
final mile to Devizes Marina. Had to wait a bit to move up to wharf for
pumpout & diesel. Away just after 11:00 for trouble free journey
home. Roll on August!