Wire Lock to West Mills, Newbury
Yet another wet morning, we loitered a while before inevitably getting wet.
At Kintbury we pulled in, filled the water tank, emptied the yellow water, cleaned out Tilly’s pooh box and disposed of rubbish, all the time getting wetter. A chap was coming up in the lock hoping to find a space on the 48hr moorings. He complained of the same boats frequenting the moorings here and nobody doing anything about it. He found a space anyway so could dry off and enjoy the rest of his Sunday, whilst we got wetter.
Soon we were joined by the River Kennet. It meanders around not quite knowing what it’s doing. In some places channels join the canal, others water drains off. At one place water seemed to be coming into the canal whilst at the same time dropping down through a hole into the center of the earth! Sorry no photo as it was a touch wet!
There were quite a few moving boats, well it was starting to dry up! A couple of boats were coming up in locks as we arrived, one lady needing assistance with a lock gate. I asked where they were heading, both up and over the top in the next couple of days. Neither of them knew about the locks up to the summit being locked overnight. Have to say that unless you look at the occasional notice board or get C&RT notices there is nothing to tell you. Some people didn’t like the notices attached to lock gates earlier in the year on the Grand Union, at least they made you aware of when things would be locked up. Both boats seemed to be heading to Bedwyn so they’d be going over the top in the morning.
Gradually our waterproofs stopped dripping. Having said that Micks new ones were holding up pretty well, whilst mine had just been absorbing the rain! That’s one thing to add to the Christmas list.
A hire boat was coming up Guyers Lock. It looked like a daughter and Mum and Dad. Dad at the helm and the ladies with windlasses. The daughter suggested getting on board to her Mum so that they could leave the lock, ‘Better do as I’m told!’ was said through gritted teeth. Think they are going to have a lovely week!
Now, there are people who come to watch at locks, there are those who love to help, there are those who think they look after stretches of canal even though they have nothing to do with C&RT. Here there was a chap who had helped the hirers, he asked if I wanted help with the gates just as Mick hopped off to close the offside one. This was the gate that got stuck when we came up, Mick joked about leaving it open as he eventually managed to close it. The chap (wearing high-vis) said he’d make a note of it and get it seen to, but this wasn’t his lock.
Maybe he was a volunteer bored on a Sunday afternoon, so had come out to help at the locks without a windlass. The lock emptied and he took pictures of something below the lock a little like he was doing an inspection. As we left he got on his bike and cycled along stopping for us to catch up several times, I found it a bit creepy to be honest as though he was stalking us.
Tomorrow two dead ash trees are to be felled along the towpath and signs discouraging mooring by them were evident. We carried on hoping for somewhere with a touch less footfall. Mr Man was waiting for us at the v e r y s l o w swing bridge. There was space before the lock so Mick went to moor up whilst the b r i d g e s l o w l y c l o s e d, the current taking him by surprise and necessitating a good blast of reverse to be able to position Oleanna better to moor up. Mr Man loitered at the next lock, after quarter of an hour he cycled off, we’d lost him at last.
A quick H&S check for Tilly. Here there is a little garden that was proving popular and behind it the Kennet. We looked at the river, not docile infact it had quite a strong stream. As much as we would like to let Tilly out we decided that shore leave was cancelled for today, if she happened to fall in who knows where she’d end up. As I explained this to her she wasn’t impressed. I’m a very good swimmer I’ll have you know!
More work on Houdini for me, checking out sight lines because a set of black tabs won’t pull right off out of view. This meant having to chop my mud banks up and making them good again.
Whilst we waited for our mammoth pork joint to cook, we checked out the River Thames conditions. Yellow boards for the second day of our journey upstream and one red board. Not good. One thing is certain we won’t be cruising upstream on the Thames in a few days, we just need to work out where is best for us to wait and for me to be able to get to Chippy in a weeks time.
Have to say I managed to do some very good crackling on the pork today. Whether it was leaving it out of its packaging under a tea towel in the fridge over night, or because it took almost three hours to cook I don’t know, but what ever it was it worked. We’ll be eating pork now for the remainder of the week.
8 locks, 6.88 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 load washing, 1 clean pooh box, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 more wet day, 1 red board, 5 yellow, 1 boat will not be going far for a while, 1 cat stuck indoors, looking at those great trees!