Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The wind, she did blow!

Midgham Lock to Tyle Lock
5 miles, 6 locks and 6 swing/lift bridges

When Chris looked out of the bow at 07:00 our neighbours, Vixen and FreeSpirit, had already left. Too early for us I am afraid!  We left nearer 10:00 in lovely sunshine heading for a meadow much loved and remembered by the Cleddau crew who used to come here for picnics when Cleddau moored at Frouds Bridge.

We had expected the excitement of the day, if any, would happen at Woolhampton lock.  There are signs warning of a strong current as you leave the lock.  Not in itself a problem, but there is a swing bridge to negotiate immediately after the lock.  The advice is to wait in the lock jaws until the bridge is open, then one boat go and the other to follow once the lead boat is under the bridge.  It all sounds simple enough, however the bridge is round the corner out of sight.  Just to add to the excitement the bridge is a fairly busy road bridge, which is operated electrically.  You need a special key (BWB - British Waterways as was and I doubt this name will change despite Canal and River Trust now being in charge).  All boaters carry them as they operate all of these sorts of bridge as well as entry to services (water, waste etc) in some places.  The key is inserted, turned and you then follow the instructions and press the relevant buttons.  Barriers go down, the bridge lowers a bit and then swings. Once the boats are through another button is held in whilst the bridge swings back, it raises to be level with the road again and the barriers then raise.  Turn the key and extract it and you can go on your way.  It is a great sense of power!!

Plans were made - both boats came into the lock.

Boatwif and I worked the lock and once Boatwif had raised the paddles her side, she went on to work the bridge.  Chris and The Captain moved out into the jaws.  I closed the gates and started to walk towards the bridge to find this boat moored just outside the lock - it has been there for years.  If the current takes you it is right in the way.  I think the tyres all over the side say it all!

The call came via the walkie talkie that the bridge was open, so off The Captain went and made it safely through the bridge.

Chris was about to set off when the cry came from the bridge for him to stop.  There was a cruiser heading for the bridge oblivious to all around him and heading for the bridge.  They did manage to stop him

and Chris made it safely

Past the Mikron Theatre Boat which is moored by the Rowbarge Pub that is between the lock and the bridge.  Sadly they are not performing here, so I suspect we will miss them.  For those of you who live in Worcester they are coming your way in Aug/Sep if you are interested.  I believe they are very good.  One performance is for the Worcester WI - if you are planning an outing ladies I am sure you will enjoy it!  I wish I could be there.

Back to the cruiser - once Chris was through it went through the bridge giving their thanks with the comment - 'we did not know how we were going to manage that'!  Luckily for them the current was quite benign today, so they should have been able to tie up by the lock to open it up.

We then lowered the bridge for traffic and pedestrians to continue on their way.  One couple were chafing at the bit as they were hoping the delay would not mean they missed their train!

I noticed this sign at Woolhampton - the story of the Kennet and Avon Canal.

 On we went past Froud's Bridge Marina - you can just see the boats through the trees.  I am sure it was a nostalgic moment for The Captain and Boatwif.

Heading towards Aldermaston we passed this huge boat - we are not sure how it got there.

Into Aldermaston lock with the pretty scalloped sides.  Not done for aesthetic reasons - apparently it is because the ground here is very sandy and straight sides would collapse.

Aldermaston Bridge is a lift bridge rather than a swing bridge.  Once again we had the 'power' of holding up the traffic.

Woolhampton had proved interesting, but not giving the helmsmen any problems - they came at our last lock of the day - Towney lock.  It is quite exposed and suddenly the wind really got up pushing the boats all over the place.  There was a single handed boat in the lock, so we had to wait for him to go down, before we could enter.  Both boats did make it, but not without some revving of engines. The sky darkened, the wind blew and the rain started with Boatwif and I unable to access coats. Thankfully it did not last for long, so we did not get too wet.  The  gates at both ends of this lock do not open fully making things just a little more difficult!  Still we made it.  I hope this picture gives some idea of how windy it was.

Just to add to the excitement at this lock there is a torrent of water pouring into the river as you leave the lock and try to get onto the landing stage to pick your crew up

Through one more bridge and we were on the look out for a mooring on the meadow that used to have deer who disappeared as soon as you moored.  Now is it young bullocks.  Not too close when we moored

However they are inquisitive creatures and got closer

and closer still

Thankfully Monty was not bothered by them until Chris tried to persuade them to move away when he tried to defend their right to stay!

This was my view from the side hatch.
Once we were on board they got bored and went away and now some three hours later there is no sign of them in this very large meadow.

This is the second time recently that we have been moored to all intents and purposes in the middle of nowhere - at least that is our impression, however, we cannot be far from civilization as you can still hear emergency sirens!!

And tonight we are off out to dinner on nb Cleddau. When?  As soon as the Archers ends!

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