Sunday 12th July 2015
Black Horse Pub, Devizes to Wilcot Wide
9.5 miles, 3 locks, 2 swing bridges
A much duller day with rain promised. We left our moorings and an empty pub garden
Chris winded and off we went
Up three locks, but expecting four….. Papers and milk were bought at the garage after what turned out to be the last lock. Chris headed off with Monty to set the next lock, which, of course, was not there! Having waited for a wide beam to come through and then someone to wind (turn round), Boatwif realised what was happening, flagged the Captain down before the end of the Wharf and got back on board Cleddau. Meanwhile on I went with the towpath out of sight and no idea where Chris and Monty were. Eventually I saw some walkers ‘Have you seen a man in a red jacket with a Border Collie?’ – ‘Yes came the reply – they are along that way’! So still in front and we did eventually catch them up and I picked them up at bridge 137 getting on for a mile from where they got off! An unexpected bonus for Monty, but not so good for us.
From then on our progress was slow – moored boats everywhere – some we reckon are very long term residents. Some are cultivating interesting looking plants! No photos though!
Some were derelict with very out of date licences
There were several of these
For a ‘broad canal’ it is very narrow in places
Making it necessary to get up close and personal with the reeds when passing other boats – a bit of a problem if two widebeams meet!
There were two swing bridges, but we were lucky at both – a boat coming against us at the first
And two very helpful walkers at the second
Our biggest problem of the day was where on earth do we moor? The banks are overgrown where there are no boats moored and even where they are. All Cannings was our first hope – we can see a space, but how big is it?
Not big enough for two and the canal was not wide enough for us to breast up.
The 24 hour moorings at Honeystreet were full – a huge long line of boats and we are sure some have been there for weeks!
We tried a few ‘wild moorings’, but could not get in as the canal was too shallow. The rain started, waterproofs were donned and the local cows were sheltering under the trees.
We were told there might be moorings at Wilcot Wide just after bridge 120. Well there was plenty of space, but it took a lot of manoeuvring to prevent us being aground
But we made it amid the odd cry of ‘I hate this canal!’ reverberating around!
Our stern was sticking out a bit, but it was secure
The gangplanks were broken out
made it back on board without any problems – no gangplank training required this year.
Monday 13th July 2015
Wilcot Wide to Wootton Rivers
4.75 miles, 1 lock
Having lain in bed listening to the rain hammering down on the roof we dressed in full waterproofs before heading off. This heron was waiting for breakfast as we left.
Monty has always travelled on the back deck with us, but today he took refuge as far forward as he could. We think because the astro turf on the back deck was just too wet!
This is bridge 116 which is described in the Pearson's guide as a 'gem' - it is a slender footbridge privately erected for Colonel Wroughton in 1845 to the design of James Dredge. To be honest we thought it was in need of a bit of TLC.
This has to be one of the worst examples of a 'permanent encampment' on this canal. We litter pick along part of the Tardebigge flight and we would be appalled if we found this lying around, what we consider to be 'our' canal.
Just a nice shot
Any guesses how long this boat has been at Pewsey
on the one hour water point? They may have been taking on water, but we saw no sign of people or hoses. I say no more!
Our first sighting of the many pill boxes along this canal. There are many along the canal all manned by the Home Guard in WWII.
Monty and I jumped ship at bridge 111 (he needed to inspect the undergrowth!) and walked to bridge 112 - this was no problem for him, but I nearly lost my hat.
Then just before bridge 110 we came across this - it was obvious it was a fresh fall, probably due to the amount of rain we had last night. I phoned C&RT and spoke to a very helpful lady in North Wales who took all the details. She then asked me to hold whilst she contacted the on duty emergency call out person on the K & A. What happens next does, I am sorry to say typify this canal. I held, the phone rang and rang. The lady came back to me with apologies as the phone went to voicemail, so she would try someone else. That call also went to voicemail, so she gave up and said she would keep trying. We had got through, but we did not think a widebeam could. We were proved right as one passed us and we heard it had not made it. How long it took to sort our is a matter for conjecture.
We went up the first lock at Wootton Rivers and much to our amazement there were two moorings free - we did not hesitate and pulled over, tied up and settled in for the night.
Outside what would have been the lock cottage you can buy eggs and at the moment they have gooseberries for sale as well. We took some eggs having put our money in the honesty box. I love the fact that 'Fran owes them £1.70'. If only everywhere worked on the same honesty principal.
Chris and I went for a walk up to the village which is a real 'chocolate box' place. Even the pub is thatched and the house next door is in 'mid thatch repair'.
Then there is the church - The church is built on what was originally the site of a Saxon manor house. At the start of the 14th century it came into the hands of the de la Riviere family, after whom it is now named. The church is dedicated to St Andrew and has an attractive wooden steeple into which was built an unusual clock made out of scrap iron, brass weights, gun metal and brass pipes. The clock has three faces and was built to commemorate the coronation of George V in 1911. The clock has three faces.
This monstrosity can be seen from the church. It is so out of keeping with the rest of the village that we were surprised it had ever been given planning permission. We assumed it was something like a care home, but from the research I have done it seems to be a private residence worth nearly one million pounds.
Tuesday 14th July 2015
Wootton Rivers to Crofton
4 miles, 9 locks
A dry start to the day and we were off without full waterproofs. This is yet another example of the sort of boats to be found on this canal.
This is the crane at Burbage Wharf that was restored in 2010
A skewed bridge (ie one that is not at a 90 degree angle to the water) at Burbage
Just because I like the photo
Then it was on to the Crofton locks - we hoped the last for today
Our first sight of the railway which, I believe, will be with us until Reading
Here we are at lock 60 with the Crofton pumping station in the background. The nb Cleddau crew own 5 bricks in the chimney, but for some reason they do not know which 5!!
Right at the end of the pound there was one mooring space, so we pulled in and Cleddau breasted up as the people behind said they would be moving after lunch if it did not rain.
A boat further back moved first, so Cleddau reversed back
We stayed put and we are so close to the railway line the trains cast a shadow as they go past. I don't think they will bother us too much as we have trains fairly close by at home.
The boat behind us did move after lunch - the space was soon taken. Our new neighbours have a 'celebrity dog' on board. The boat is nb Sola Gratia with Tracey, Tim and guide dog Oakely. Tracey and Oakley are walking from Bath to Reading to raise funds for Guide Dogs for the Blind. this is their website. And if you want to see things from Oakleys point of view have a look HERE.
What a wonderful tiller pin
Monty and Oakley got on really well and it was so good to see that such a well trained dog as Oakley is just as 'deaf' as 'ordinary dogs' are when he is off duty. He really is a wonderful dog and we feel very privileged to have met them.
Oakley even came to visit and being such a clever lad he discovered if you put your foot on the pedal on the bin you get rewarded with goodies - in this case smoked mackerel skin!