Across The Top. 10th September

Crofton Top Lock to Pewsey Wharf

The view across the top

The Lockie arrived to unlock the top lock as we were making ready to push off this morning. C&RT say that the locks will be opened by 10am, this morning the chap informed us that they were all open and it was 9am. The pumping station pound was full and he’d wondered why nobody was moored there.

Warp factor twelve, dilithium crystals working hard

We didn’t want to hang around, we were moored in a winding hole after all. The summit pound stretches about 2 miles, mostly along a cutting which dips under the surface at Bruce Tunnel, named after the land owner Thomas Brudenell-Bruce.

Burbage Wharf

He insisted on it being built, not wanting a cutting across his land. Whilst in the tunnel the railway line crosses from one side of the canal to the other and trees now separate the two, their roots almost acting as a wall.

First of many many downhill locks to come

Now we were on to down hill locks. As we finished lowering to the next level the crew from the first uphill boat arrived meaning I could leave the gates for them.

Pretty house

As the second lock emptied there was time to admire the large house next to it along with it’s wheelie bins!

Swapping locks

At Brimslade Lock another boat approached, the lady on her bike said she’d call the boats behind to let them know we were coming, so as not to drain the lock when they’d finished. The message got through and the gates were waiting wide open for us.

Walking down to Wooton Rivers Lock I passed a chap painting his cabin side, the boat had all the signs of a coal boat, but no sign writing. When I reached the lock and was about to call Mick in case we wanted anything I noticed that he was stopping anyway, pulling alongside them.

Coal boat, soon to be burgandy and blue

Karen and Ed have had the boat for a year. When they bought it it was called William, they’ve been trading under that name until recently. Bored of hearing about the previous owners they want to make the boat theirs, hence the repaint and it will soon be sign written with it’s new name Frederick, after their Pug . Ed topped our diesel tank up, cheaper than we’d paid on the Thames. They were still waiting for their coal delivery so we held off buying supplies, maybe on the way back from Bristol.

The lock had been sat waiting for us for a while and a chap on a bike suggested we should leave the bottom gates for him. I imagined he was waiting below, but no we passed him about a mile away only just getting ready to push out. A wide beam hire boat beat him to the lock anyway, so the badly leaking top gates would stop emptying the pound above.

The bow still to be painted

Soon we passed NB White Swan, the boat of an Instagram acquaintance. Frankie has recently repainted her gunnels, we were going to have a competition as to who’s were the best. So far she is winning as I’ve not started on ours, good job she was out at work. We waved anyway to Ghost and Shadow her two cats most probably having their morning snoozes.

Quite a collection to clear for low bridges

So far all had been friendly. But then the atmosphere changed. A line of moored boats ahead, Mick slowed to tick over. The first boat had a genny running inside with the back doors closed. I was a touch worried for anyone inside and was about to shout out to check they were alive and had not gassed themselves when swearing came from inside. Followed by stomping, then expletives and suggesting we should ‘F**g SLOW DOWN!’ His boat was moving due to slack ropes. Mick took umberance and suggested he should tighten his ropes. A lady had just got off her boat nearby with a face like thunder (possibly her natural demeanour). Mick asked her opinion, ‘That’s too fast for Tick Over’ was her reply. Sorry but it is our tick over.

From here on wards it felt like word had been passed along. Our smiles nods and waves either being ignored or reluctantly returned. They’re a friendly bunch along here!

This is now what is known as The Long Pound. At just over 15 miles it is quite long. We pushed on to Pewsey ahead of our schedule and slotted into the last space on the visitor moorings. Five hours for Tilly and lunch at a reasonable time for us.

Pretty

After lunch I gave the grabrail and stern deck rust patches a first coat of primer, hoping that Tilly was otherwise engaged for long enough for it to dry. Then as I was in job mode I found my linen thread. Ran a couple of lengths through a candle to give it a layer of wax and mended where some of the stitching had come loose on the cratch. Not the prettiest of stitching but it’s hard to be dainty when using pliers to pull your needle through several layers of canvas and zip. That’s one job off the to do list.

4 locks all downhill, 6.17 miles, 2 shoes still sopping wet, 501 yards of tunnel, 1 way traffic, 74 litres diesel, 1 bag kindling, 1 telling off, 1st coat primer, 2 zips mended, 1 friend rescued, 2 boaters who can’t get their heads round when and where we will be where and when!

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