Cow Roast Marina to Pixes Farm Bridge 146
Final load of washing on whilst we had breakfast, most of this got a turn or two in the tumble dryer. By the time it had all finished the post still had £8.03 on it. Not bad.
The bow post hadn’t fully cured but the fenders had to go on, it’s not often you can get this close to the pointy end without having to hang over the gas locker and that doesn’t appeal to either of us. The button was put back on and then Mick tried to work out how to attach the new fender underneath.
It seems to want to hang a touch more vertically than horizontally. Mick tried shackling it in a different place but this seemed to be looser, so we’ll see how this arrangement works, we just want to stop biffing as we go up in locks.
Whilst this was happening outside I was unpacking the summer clothing bag, with temperatures expected of around 30 degrees on Saturday I wanted my shorts out. Bulky winter jumpers were popped in the vacuum bag ready to be compacted and hidden away for the next few months.
Wayne in his Lemon van arrived a good twenty minutes early for our delivery slot, one substitution and unfortunately a hole in the bag of rice flour. I’ve asked for a refund and popped the bag in another bag. With gluten free ingredients replenished I can make bread again.
Once the water tank was topped back up, rubbish taken to the bin and the marina gate fob returned to the office we were ready. Mick gently nudged us backwards, instead of fending off at the front I pulled us in towards the boat next door trying to get as much turn as we could before the stern met the concrete edge behind. Finally we were free and back out on the canal.
Cow Roast Lock was being emptied so we pulled in to wait our turn. Walking up to the lock I could see that it was a huge widebeam going down, taking their time not to hit the bridge with their wheelhouse canopy. They got back onboard, leaving the gates, was someone waiting to come up? Or are we now south enough for southern cruising ways?!
Two boats were waiting, phew we’d not spend the next few hours closing gates at every lock. The gates at Cow Roast have been replaced, somehow new huge baulks of oak catch your eye more than old painted ones. Here the usual roofing felt anti slip strip isn’t present, instead they have added studs to do the job. Apparently the roofing felt holds moisture underneath it helping the beam to rot quicker. The studs are a good idea, but according to a C&RT chap a bit further along as the oak dries out the studs become loose and you can just lift them out.
At Dudswell Top Lock, two chaps were letting water down. Thier boats were sat in the next pound and as boats came down they refloated, but then as they left the pound they were going aground again. I’m fairly sure there used to be a note in the Nicholsons guide suggesting not to moor there. If it was us, we’d move to the next pound.
At Dudswell Bottom Lock a C&RT chap was sat waiting for someone to turn up with things to fix a hole in the towpath. He’d come out to unlock the offside top gate for the wide beam. He showed me where the gate was rotten and badly needed some TLC. The bottom gates are also bad, two big holes constantly letting water through. The two boats in the pound above really should move down, they were fighting a loosing battle trying to keep their boats afloat.
North Church Lock needed refilling, the widebeam having just gone down. We’d now gradually catch them up. By the time we both reached Gas Locks coming into Berko we both sat in line waiting for the lock to fill.
Here the two locks are close together, so I offered to go and set the second one ready for them to go straight into, knowing that Mick would reset the top one for us. However the bottom lock was empty and below there was a coal boat across the cut. I walked down to see if he wanted the lock or if it was alright to reset it for the widebeam. He was with a customer but was heading up the way to wind and come back, so he’d top up the diesel later.
Just as we were starting to fill the lock a Wyvern Hire boat appeared, so we emptied the chamber again to open the bottom gates. The widebeam above came down, the lady not having spotted boats coming up was closing gates and about to help lift a paddle for us. Luckily Mick had spotted what was happening below. Having such a big boat the crew had walkie talkies, she would help guide the boat in by standing at the bottom gates and then give the chap at the helm a distance to the bottom gates constantly. I wonder if they enjoy cruising on canals, or just can’t wait to get onto the Thames.
We followed them down and found a space on the moorings in Berko. By now we were ravenous and after lunch I popped over to Waitrose for a couple of bits and to pick up an order from John Lewis. The decision was made to move on further today, we want to be within the M25 and find shade before the heat hits on Saturday.
At The Rising Sun pub the aftermath of two nights of Mikron shows was visible, large piles of plastic chairs still lock side. Today it seemed to have converted into a resting place for walkers. They were apparently walking a circular route from Goring to Goring. Most of the people we’d seen on the towpath with numbers on them were walking carefully, it was only the first chap we’d seen a few hours earlier who didn’t seem to be limping.
Down a few more locks to below Sewer Lock. Most of the locks today we’ve had to leave empty, necessitating leaving a paddle up when you leave. This is great when you arrive going up hill, but a touch more work to do when going down.
Here we had a couple of attempts to moor up where our 2014 Christmas card photo was taken. In the end we decided that being a couple of foot away from the bank would be good practice for when we get to the Kennet and Avon. It was now 7pm, but Tilly was allowed special dispensation and given an hour of towpath frolicks. We introduced ourselves to the boat behind, they are heading the same way as us, if we manage to push off at the same time tomorrow then we’ll share the locks into Hemel with them.
13 locks, 7 following, 4.77 miles, 1 coal boat, 1 late lunch, 2 parcels, 1 red onion, 1 very sunny day, 2 obligatory photos, 4 pairs of shorts dug out, 1 offer, 1 script.