Monday, 20 July 2015

A wonderful walk at Hampstead and onwards to Newbury

Hampstead to Newbury
2.75 miles, 3 locks, 1 swing bridge

It was such wonderful weather yesterday that Boatwif and I took Monty off for a walk - and what a walk it turned out to be.  We went back to Hampstead Lock, crossed the canal and river and took a footpath just the other side of the river.  It was idyllic - for the most part I will let the pictures tell the story.

A lot of the path is newly mown and nice and springy underfoot

We thought this might be a sign of otters, but having spent a pleasant (?) 20 minutes or so researching UK wild animal droppings I am sure it isn't.  I think they are too large for a rabbit and a bit too piled up?  The nearest I can get is water vole, but I am sure someone will put be right - please?

Weir control

Some of the bridges looked a little rickety, but they were all okay

This wonderful looking bench just cried out to be sat on, inviting a few moments quiet contemplation

 whilst enjoying the view

The bees were busy

What is the red refection in the water?

Zoom in to find it is nb Cleddau and nb Tentatrice!

Definite proof is any was needed

The path does take you near a rather nice house with a table nearby - to sit here on a summer's evening enjoying a glass of wine with your meal must be wonderful

It had been a wonderful summer day and it was an equally good evening - such an idyllic spot called for towpath Pimms followed by dinner al fresco.

It was wet and drizzling when we got up this morning, but had stopped before we set off to Newbury. The journey was uneventful although most of it seemed to be walked rather than ridden!

Entering Newbury and Boatwif was in control of the swing bridge - windlass and BWB key required to operate it.

Once again we were lucky with the moorings - two good ones above the town lock

At one point nb Waiouru pulled up behind nb Cleddau, but they decided to move on down to Victoria Park.

This was the view as I sat and typed

Some house behind our mooring

We headed for town and spotted this plaque - someone we boaters should all be grateful to

This was taken from below the lock looking at Town Bridge

And so it was into the town we went and what a difference since we were last here, possibly 10 years ago.  My memory is of a rather sad slightly down at heel town, but today it is anything but.  There is a whole new street of shops which include John Lewis At Home.  The whole centre was alive, clean and very inviting.  A bit of retail therapy was indulged in, but then it was back to the boat to collect Monty and head for Victoria Park.  The outdoor gym was being well used - it must be nicer on a lovely summer day than being hidden inside a gym??  Mind you I expect the latter is air conditioned!

On the canal we found not only nb Waiouru, but nb Solo Gratia.  There was no one at home, so no playtime with guide dog Oakley for Monty today.  I found out why when I checked their site - unfortunately the walk is on hold for a while as Tim's Dad is very ill and he has had to go away until things are resolved.  It will continue in due course, so please consider sponsoring them if you can.  It sounds as though Oakley and Tracey had a whale of a time with lots of other guide dogs in Victoria Park yesterday.

A closer look at St Nicholas Church

This merry band paddled past our boat this evening which prompted memories of past visits to Newbury when first our son and then a year later our daughter took part in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race (125  miles with 75 locks to portage round).  Newbury was the first destination.

I seem to remember that this being a bit of a challenge.  They would have portaged the canoes round the lock and then had to paddle fast to avoid being swept across the canal by the current of the water coming in from the right of this picture.

And this is where they spent the night - loads of them all lying on the floor!  Mind after seven hours in a canoe I guess they would have slept anywhere!

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