Kingfisher Formation Flight. 20th October

Woolhampton Lock to Theale Swing Bridge

This morning I noticed that our window frames need a good clean out. We seem to have a crop growing in the fluffy surround. Maybe it’ll be something tasty!

Cress or something more substantial?

As we finished off breakfast yesterdays locking partners came past us, then as we were rolling back the covers they came past again, heading in the same direction as us. How nice of them to call for us to do Woolhampton Lock together.

The river joins from the right

They of course were experienced at this lock and the swing bridge that closely follows it, having been through it yesterday. Below the lock the River Kennet joins again at 90 degrees, this is soon followed by the swing bridge. The flow on the river can mean that heading downstream you won’t be able to stop to operate the bridge, so it is recommended to open the bridge before leaving the lock.

Power on
Both safe through the bridge

Crew went ahead to open up, from my side of the lock I couldn’t see that it was opened but the chap on the other side said it was as Mick left the lock. A bit of power was needed to get past the initial force of the current, then enough to keep steerage through the bridge where shortly afterwards the boats pulled in to pick us all up. We’d both safely made the transit.

The culvert work we passed has progressed into a lot of mud

At Aldermaston Lock we waited and helped bring a wide beam up before we both could descend. An off duty volunteer appeared and as there were a few boats he went off to get his windlass and life jacket from the car, a handy extra pair of hands.

That’s what they look like

NB Seraph went on ahead through the lift bridge whilst we turned to the services to fill with water, this will be the last opportunity before going onto the Thames. This meant I got to see what the underside of a lift bridge looks like from the road. At the services we disposed of all our waste and then reversed out winded and waited for the road to be clear to lift the bridge again. I was glad we’d waited as I got 27 cars compared to NB Seraph’s 19.


As Mick brought Oleanna into Padworth Lock I heard two Kingfishers, soon followed by the two of them darting past in electric blue unison, both banking at the same time to give a flash of orange as they turned just behind Mick’s head and vanished into the trees. It was like the Red Arrows, they just needed a few more mates to make a proper display team. Sadly no photos were possible.

Sticky sticky things

We carried on working our way down through the locks and swinging the bridges now on our own, each chamber needing to be filled. Every now and then the river would join again, one stretch taking us by surprise and speeding our way downstream.

Sulhampstead Swing Bridge and lock were to be my last on the Kennet and Avon. A shame the sun hadn’t been out for my last day of freedom before Panto starts. We pulled in at Theale Visitor Moorings, hoping that the Thames will have dropped enough for Mick to make progress upstream towards Oxford this coming week. Today more yellow boards, stream decreasing are showing, they are almost half way to Oxford now, just a few more needed.

Tilly had a good explore this afternoon as I packed, baked and booked train tickets. Mick spent much of the time searching the internet for a new shower thermostatic mixer bar. Ours has decided to keep a constant temperature, just about too hot! So tomorrow he’ll help me with my bags and then go and see if he can get a new one from Reading Screwfix to plumb in.

My bags are now packed and in the morning I’ll be heading off to Panto. Hopefully when you are reading this Mick will be closer to moving onto the Thames, my navigational and windlass duties will be passed over to Paul from Waterway Routes to help Mick get off the K&A.

Image result for puss in boots chipping norton

So until I get chance to post a postcard here, this will be the last post for a while. I’ll be keeping an eye on the Thames and other boaters blogs as I eat my cereal each morning before painting my arms off on Puss in Boots. See you all soon.

6 locks, 5.99 miles, 1 wind, 5 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge, 41 held up, 1 boat let through, 1 full water tank, 20 biscuits, 1 oat and chestnut loaf, 1 big bag packed, 1 rucksack, 1 bag of templates, 2 kingfishers, 1 boater signing off for a while.

9 thoughts on “Kingfisher Formation Flight. 20th October

  1. jennie230

    I hope all goes well with the panto Pip. Glad you made it through Woolhampton okay – we know how tricky it can be at times. I will miss your morning posts. Jennie


  2. Karen Berger

    The kingfishers must have been a delight to see….a bald eagle passed overhead on my early morning walk yesterday. Thank you for your posts, Pip…hope all goes well with Puss ‘n Boots.


    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you Karen. Doubt I’d ever get a bald eagle flying low on the English canals, but I’m quite happy with the odd flash of kingfisher blue


  3. adrian2013

    Brilliant Pip loved following you and Mick in this end of the world. Shame we missed a meet up but I’m sure there will be another time. Good luck with your Panto hope Mick and a Paul get a good trip to Oxford soon.


    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thanks Ade. We will be back, there is plenty more to explore on the K&A.
      The Thames boards are improving, so the push towards Oxford will start tomorrow.


  4. Debby

    Hope the Panto goes well Pip and good luck to Mick with the river levels! You might like to know that the Clean Kilo zero-waste shop in Digbeth won the Best Ethical Food Project award in the Observer Food Monthly awards at the weekend.


    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thanks Debby, there’s lots to keep me busy.
      I’m considering adding a page to the blog to list such shops. We’ll be heading that way hopefully at the beginning of next year so will pay them a call.


  5. Anonymous

    My understanding is it was a condition of heritage funding that two turf sided locks were retained/restored. Monkey Marsh and Gastly Garston were selected as they are both on river sections of the K&A meaning the excessive requirement for water wasn’t an issue. There is (was?) a water point and other CRT facilities at Tyle Mill Lock which is the last on the K&A. No doubt Mick can walk/cycle to Sainsburys Theale from your mooring at Sheffield Bottom Swing Bridge?



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