Theale Swing Bridge to Froudes Bridge 29
Autumn is starting to show itself. This morning I considered knitting myself some fingerless gloves as it was chilly inside. Out side there was need for coats as well as jumpers to start the day.
Do not open these gate paddles until the lock is half full. Newish blue signs on Sulhampstead Lock. Well if you followed these instructions you’d be waiting a lifetime as the only paddles to fill the lock are on the gate. At other locks the more sensible signs tell you to raise paddles with care, keeping an eye out for jets of water and turbulence.
The water certainly rushes into these old turf sided locks. Not locks you want to drift forward in with your front doors open!
A selection of bridges today. A totally manual one with no lock, the others operated with the key of power. I had varying success in holding vehicles up. First six cars, then only a bike at Ufton Swing Bridge.
Here I spotted a boat coming the other way so we waved them through first, he said another boat was following, they appeared just as Mick brought Oleanna through so I kept it open for them, all the time a patient cyclist waited. Normally I’d have been concerned at waiting motorists, but here the road was closed. A police sign and a police car sat by the next railway bridge. Apparently this is where PC Andrew Harper was killed a couple of weeks ago.
We rose up to Aldermaston. Here there are four hour moorings, or you can pay to stay overnight next to the hire base. This is where NB Waiouru was brought to be fitted out after Tom and Jan managed to get their boat out of the hands of their first builder. Today a couple of marquees filled the yard, making a suitable space to paint in, voices could be heard from within. Out on the water a very short boat was having work done, the size of it’s solar panel was almost bigger than itself.
I walked up to the lock to open a bottom gate and then back to Aldermaston Lift Bridge. Key of power turned, I waited for a gap in traffic then pressed the first button. This set sirens and flashing lights into operation. Then with the barriers down I pressed the lift bridge button. One press was all that was needed, up it went. Lines of traffic now building up in both directions. As soon as Oleanna was through I held the close button to finish the process.
Now it’s all very well there being traffic lights to aid the traffic flow across such bridges, but it doesn’t half make it hard to count how many you’ve held up! Twenty two one way and ten or maybe more the other. Were the last few cars just arriving and managing to get through with the others? I did my best to count on the way to the lock.
Aldermaston Lock is 7ft 4 deep and the cill is visible when the lock is empty. But when full which is the correct marker on the side of the lock?
This is where our route planner had us stopping for the day. There was nowhere obvious to stop so we continued. The railway, which will be our shadow for sometime, came close and then drifted away, a low edge with a couple of boats moored and some space. We tried pulling in. I managed to hop off, but the back end wasn’t coming in. I hopped back on again, we’d carry on, so I took a comfort break and bobbed to the loo.
Outside I could hear a lady suggesting to Mick that it was a touch deeper by her boat the one in front. She was quite insistent that he tried again, she held the centre line as he brought Oleanna a few inches closer. We were mooring with our new neighbour. We chatted away, her lercher dog being watched all the time by Tilly from the window. A parting comment from the lady was that she’d named her boat after the book she wrote ‘The Black Cat’. Of course this was checked out and a familiar name popped onto the computer screen. Edgar Allen Poe, but also Jenny Maxwell. Jenny makes many comments on Facebook groups and is a member of Cats on the cut. She very sadly lost her cat Murphy earlier in the year, he was run over.
Along the K&A there has been a spate of break ins. Jenny is putting together a campaign to help boaters deter such acts. If you are on the K&A and hear five short blasts from a boat horn, join in, hopefully others will join in too. If the button for your horn is outside airhorns are now available from chandlers along the canal, so you can have one by your bed. Houses in areas which have been targeted will have letters put through their doors to inform them and Jenny is hoping to get the police on board with it too.
We settled down for an afternoon listening to the cricket, some model making for me and some climbing trees and friend finding for Tilly. She managed to stay out past curfew, but popped out from the friendly cover at just gone 7.
5 locks, 4.39 miles, 4 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge, 42 held up, 1 blocked elsan, 1 full water tank, 1 black cat, 5 hours, 3 Dans, 1 cyc, 10 sleepers.