Monday, 4 June 2007

Kennet and Avon

4 Locks 4 Miles. Now moored at The Cunning Man pub.
349 locks, 496 miles, 16 Tunnels and 8 lift bridges since Nov 2006

After saying our farewells to the crew of Zanzibar we set off for the K and A about 9.30am. The entry into the river was easy and smooth but this was the calm before the storm. After passing through Blakes lock we reached the narrow section which is controlled by traffic lights. To operate the lights you have to go to the right hand side of the river and pull in against some pilings with no pontoon and push the button on a pedestrian crossing control box. The problem is that the water is coming off a bend and pushing you away from the pilings. It took several attempts to tie up to the pilings and wait until the traffic lights changed to green.
Once we got the green light the first obstacle was a bridge crossing the river on a tangent with a sharp bend to negotiate immediately after. If you don’t get it right you can either hit the bridge or the stern will come in contact with the right bank.
Thankfully we got it right and found ourselves motoring through the centre of the Oracle shopping centre not too dissimilar to Banbury on the Oxford canal.
The traffic light section finished at the County lock which only has a rise of 14 inches but there is a very wide weir right alongside which creates eddies right in front of the lock.

The next lock was a real handful and it was lucky that we are travelling with Derek and Christina on n/b Kalimera. You have a weir on the left and a water outlet on your right alongside the mooring pontoon. This water is supposed to be shielded from the pontoon but isn’t and this caused a problem keeping the boat against the pontoon. The next head ache was when we opened the sluices to drain the lock. Water was hitting the boats from 3 sides creating quite a handful. Needless to say we had to empty the lock slowly which took quite a long time.
These locks are larger than the Grand Union locks as the original locks were built to accommodate the “Newbury” barges which were 109ft long and 19 feet wide. You can actually get 4 narrowboats in the lock together if their sizes correspond with the lock dimensions’
As it was very nearly lunchtime we moored up just past the “Cunning Man” pub and had a con flab as to what we were going to do in the forthcoming days as the women aboard both boats have to catch trains to London and Paignton at the end of the week.
In the end we decided to stop here for the day and I got a few odd jobs done that had been waiting a while.

While having a cuppa on the stern deck I took 97 photo’s trying to get a picture of a Damsel fly in flight. After editing the shots I finished up with 22 reasonable pictures.

There was also an air pageant going on somewhere nearby and we had a lot of small aircraft flying over including 2 Biplanes with wing walkers standing on the top.

No comments: