Thu 22nd Jun Foxhangers to Trowbridge
This morning was slightly cooler. Thank you, Lord.
Sells Green Swing Bridge was chained up, with a notice “Do not use”. There was a walker on the towpath wanting to cross. We offered him a lift to the next one but he stomped off in the other direction, not at all pleased. Rusty Lane Swing Bridge was operational, and only ¼ mile further on, and the paths on the other side connected so he could have got to where he wanted.
There are five locks at Seend, and after the first three there are rubbish, elsan, and a water point. However, they are spread out along the pound, and there are also visitor moorings there. We had two cassettes to empty, and James emptied one. Babs went to set the next lock, but another boat was waiting to come up. Everyone was waiting for us, so we put a cassette on the towpath, together with our bags of rubbish. Hazel took the boat in to the lock while James went to dispose of things. It was all a bit of a rush.
Sharing Seend Locks with Babs
At Seend bottom lock there was a narrowboat waiting to come up. Behind there was a wide cruiser, and behind that another narrowboat. We suggested to the first narrowboat that they share with the third boat, and we said the same to the third boat.
Three swing bridges followed. The first was Seend Park Swing Bridge, which was kept open for all of us by a boat coming the other way.
The second bridge was Lowes Swing Bridge. Babs opened it, and we went through, stopping on the bollards for James to close it. Then we spotted the wide cruiser, which had turned round, following on. Babs went through first, and James held the bridge for the cruiser, then when the bridge was closed, Gabriel followed on.
Seend Park Farm by Lowes Swing Bridge.
Lowes Swing Bridge
The third bridge was Newton Swing Bridge, and a boat was coming through. As they passed us they said “We’ve left the swing bridge open for you”. When we went through we stopped on the bollards the other side, and James went back to close it, only to find a notice saying “Do not use” on it!
Boat with roof storage
There is a new aqueduct over the new A350 just before Semington Top Lock, which took us by surprise as we have an old Nicholson Guide.
A350 Aqueduct and the white cruiser
When we reached Semington Top Lock, Babs had gone in. The crew of the white cruiser said “I don’t think we can fit in there so you had better go in”. Considering that we had held the bridge open for them, we might have chosen to be cross with them if they had had a narrowboat and went in with Babs. However, we found out that the boat had belonged to the man’s brother-in-law who had just died. They had never been through a lock before, and they were moving the boat further down the canal to sell it.
After the second lock at Semington, there is a special pontoon for getting crews back onto the boats. We found an elderly man with a rowing dinghy, which was on top of the pontoon, with the stern sticking out over the canal. James suggested he swing the boat round out of harm’s way so that it was not in danger of being hit by one of the boats, and the man gave a load of abuse. “I pay my licence the same as you” “Isn’t the wharf long enough for you?” etc. We guess he must have completely misunderstood the intention behind the suggestion.
We moored by bridge 168 at Trowbridge, where there was a wider grassy area. This was not a good decision in hindsight, as there was a bench there, and it turned out to be a gathering point for a number of the local youth population. We had stones thrown onto the boat and abusive comments from the young teenagers who were showing off to each other. They were also shouting abuse at walkers who went past. It calmed down a little when one of them asked for a glass of water which we supplied. Eventually they gradually dispersed, and were replaced by some older ones who were having a few lagers but not bothering us.
Babs had moored just round the corner, out of sight of the group on the bench. She came on board Gabriel for dips and wine.
Moored in Trowbridge
James looked at the bilge pump which was on its side. He turned it upright. Although the motor was running no water was being pumped. Perhaps it was blocked, or broken in some way. Engineer needed plus a new pump in the morning.
7 locks, 6 miles, 5 swing bridges
Fri 23rd Jun Trowbridge to Dundas
Babs wanted to go further than we did, so she had gone when we emerged in the morning.
Our mooring in Trowbridge
We phoned round the boatyards trying to find someone to replace our bilge pump, but it was changeover day for hire boat fleets at ABC, Hilperton and Bath Narrowboats. Some said they would have to order in the part.
We cruised to Bradford-on-Avon Sainsbury’s and managed to get the last mooring on rings. James had hoped for a bacon bap or similar, but there was only a cafe serving full lunches. We bought some food and wine and returned to the boat where we had lunch. We prayed for a solution to our bilge pump issue.
Setting off again, we came to Bradford Lock, where we noticed a chandlery. They had a bilge pump, so we bought it.
The lock at Bradford
We descended through the lock, where we were “helped” by a volunteer who, as James was about to raise a paddle to empty the lock, pointed out that the top gates were not quite shut. Exactly what he expected us to do about it we are not sure, but James just said “They soon will be”, and opened the paddle. When the lock was empty the volunteer opened the second gate which we did not need. We don’t think he can have been a boater. He then bellowed at Hazel for her to let him know if any boats were coming. She would of course have said if there were.
We had a lovely cruise past the Tithe Barn, down the valley and across the Avoncliffe Aqueduct. We plan to return here on a Tuesday for the Cross Guns music session.
Tithe Barn roof
Floating Charge, seen earlier at Brentford
Avon Valley from the aqueduct
Continuing along the valley side, as we approached Dundas Aqueduct we came across Mistol, and Trish said she would come and find us when we had moored up.
As we turned onto the aqueduct there was a space immediately on our left where we were able to moor, and she came on board for a cuppa, and invited us back for a meal later.
Hazel made a fruit salad, while James inspected the bilge pump, which he discovered was upside down. He turned it over, and it pumped out water! Problem solved. Prayer answered, with a sense of humour. We went round to Mistol at the appointed time and had a very pleasant meal.
1 lock, 6 miles.
Sat 24th Jun Dundas to Bath
Moored at Dundas
Crossing the aqueduct
A leisurely start took us across the aqueduct where we said farewell to Rob, who was expecting visitors on Litania. We decided not to stop at the water point as it was in use.
Rob on Litania
Just round the corner at Millbrook Swing Bridge, we came up behind two hire boats full of youngsters. They were going very slowly, allowing the kiddies to steer, so we asked if we could pass. They pulled over to the left, so we had to pass on the right. We managed it OK, but we came to a line of moored boats very soon after this manoeuvre, and a wide beam entered the resulting narrow channel, coming towards us. We tucked into a space to let it pass, but there was some chaos behind us as the wide beam met the kiddies hire boats.
As we passed Claverton Road Bridge, we noticed it was numbered 179, and not 180 as our guide had it. The book had the swing bridge as 179. We’ll check it out on the return journey.
This is a lovely river valley with fields and woods rising on both sides, with the railway below us, and the canal following a contour on the hillside.
We soon caught up with another slow boat, operated by an elderly couple. When we arrived at Bathampton Swing Bridge, instead of setting one person ashore to operate the bridge while the other remained with the boat, they both got off, and started to make a long job of mooring the boat, with bow and stern lines, and even the centre line. We couldn’t get off to do the bridge as they were on the landing stage. Another boat was coming from the other direction as well. Thankfully a lady on one of the moored boats saw the challenge and went to open the bridge for everyone. We took the opportunity to pass the elderly couple and continued on our way.
By Bathampton Bridge 183 we stopped to fill up with water and to empty rubbish. The pressure was quite good and it didn’t take long. While we were there Babs arrived to dispose of rubbish and said she had moored just beyond the bridge. Although there was a mooring space right behind her, we carried on as we wanted to be closer in to Bath. Also she had relatives with her.
Babs in Bathampton
We found a mooring space just before Sydney Gardens, but while we were tying the ropes, we discovered that just over the low wall was a fifty foot drop to the railway line below and we were concerned for Hugo. We undid the ropes and continued our journey through the gardens, under Cleveland House, which used to be the headquarters of the canal company.
Cleveland House Tunnel
We found a 2 day mooring between Sydney Wharf Bridge and the Top Lock, just where we wanted to be for access to the city. We had heard that there is no longer any mooring allowed on the river by Pulteney Weir, where we moored last time.
No mooring at Pulteney Weir
We had lunch on board before setting off for a shopping spree. We visited Vodafone as our data usage has increased hugely recently, and we couldn’t get sensible answers over the phone. We discovered that a lot of the usage was via a “free” app we had both installed which has a lot of adverts. That has now been deleted.
We took a few non-postcard views of Bath
A back street
A quiet corner
After a busy days shopping with very crowded tourist-filled streets, we had a meal in a Moroccan restaurant which was very pleasant.
Back at the boat we discovered that the next boat was Bibendum. He had been to Bristol and back.
0 locks, 4 miles, 2 swing bridges.
Sun 25th Jun Bath
There was a little light rain this morning, so we took brollies and walked down the flight of stairs towards the city centre, and found the Pavilion, where the Vineyard Church has its meeting.
There were some good musicians and singers leading the worship, with two new songs. There followed two baptisms and they had very exciting testimonies. The talk was about going deeper with God, and was partly about fasting – not just giving something up, but making room for more time with God.
The worship band at the Vineyard
Praying for the baptised
Then we found a small Thai restaurant overlooking Pulteney Weir, where we had lunch. During further shopping in the afternoon, we came across Rob and Trish who were trying to buy some kiddies fishing nets.
We caught a bus back from the centre up to Bathwick Hill, where it stopped very close to our mooring place.
No boating today. 1 mouse
0 locks, 4 miles.
Next: a few days on the River Avon, between Bath and Bristol, before turning round and starting back.