Saturday, 17 June 2017

Newbury to Hungerford

Mon 12th Jun  Newbury to Benham Lock

We broke with tradition this morning and had breakfast at Bill’s instead of at the cafe. We returned to the boat and said our farewells to everyone we could find

We put the hood down, made sure Hugo was on board and set off.  The first boat we met was Kew coming the other way, before we had gone more than a boat length.

Farewell to Kew

Through Newbury

 Newbury Lock

We found Graham at the first lock and he kindly helped us through and operated the swing bridge for us.  It is really good that he has been welcomed into the Canal Ministries team.

Graham on the locks

Through the swing bridge

We waved to Jane Sutton as we went past

As we were ascending in Guyer's Lock a widebeam boat  pulled out in front of us, and we followed them most of the way.

At Higg’s Lock the top paddle failed to close, so we could not leave the lock empty as requested. We made a phone call to CRT, and left a message.   

We moored above Benham Lock, and James sent a proforma message to CRT on their website.  Then he sent an email to the regional office, whose phone number was not published.

We needed very little lunch as we had had a decent breakfast. James went for a walk, and saw two cinnabar moths, which was encouraging and they have been scarce in recent years.

He also saw a whitethroat singing on a branch

We started to watch Springwatch. Unfortunately this is screened at the best time for seeing wildlife so James went for another walk hoping to see some deer or water voles.  He found some black slugs and some nice flowers.

Blackberry flower

 Some other flower


Some interesting reflections and ripples meant that the following three images all came from one photo:

Water art
There are lots of WWII defences along the K & A. We have counted eighteen pillboxes between Reading and Hungerford.

Benham Bridge and pillbox

Oxeye Daisy

Weathered bridge parapet

A white umbellifer

Hugo waiting for his dad to return

4 locks, 3 miles, 1 swing bridge

Tue 13th Jun  Benham Lock to Kintbury

There was a lovely early morning mist hanging over the meadows and the canal this morning.

Dawn at Benham Lock

 Mist on the waters

We had a pleasant cruise through delightful countryside to Kintbury.

Has this boater heard about the floral boat competition?

Approaching Copse Lock

The view from Dreweatt’s Lock

Kintbury Lock

We had to wait for the water point while we dealt with rubbish and cassettes. When we had filled the water tank, we moored alongside Mistol to begin with, as there were no bank side moorings available. Rob and Trish were away for the day.

Moored behind Mistol

Then the boat behind moved away, so we took their place.  Later, Tony and Pat arrived on Paws 4 Thought and tied alongside us.

Rob and Trish returned much later after we had all turned in.

4 locks, 3 miles.

Wed 14th Jun  Kintbury to Hungerford

Hugo staying close to the boat

Rob and Trish set off fairly early with Mistol and Litania.  We followed almost an hour later, with Paws 4 Thought.  We had a very agile tern following the boats and catching fish.

Leaving Kintbury with Paws

The vicarage at Kintbury

The tern

 It was a fairly easy journey, but very hot. We were trying to find shady spots near the locks while we were waiting for them to fill or empty.  Thankfully we only had three locks.

At Wire Lock we were hoping to see a watervole, where we saw one eleven years ago.  We didn’t see one this time, but Tony and Pat said they saw one yesterday near Hamstead Lock. There must be several along here, because there are many holes in the bank.

Wire Lock 76

A beautiful copper beech

At Dun Mill lock, the towpath goes up onto a road, which crosses the canal via a bridge. We used to cross straight over the road and through a gap in the hedge onto the lock side. Now the people in Dun Mill have put a fence right across, and up to the bridge, so that we have to walk up over the bridge, halfway down the lock where there is a stile, and back to the bridge and across the lock gates to reach the same place.  Grumble! Moan!

Arriving at Hungerford we saw a shady section of towpath, sheltered by some tall trees, and we tried to get into the side to moor. It was too shallow and we couldn’t get close enough for James to get off, so we had to abandon the idea.

We passed the facilities wharf, and a footbridge, and then a narrow section to Hungerford Road Bridge.  The moorings on the right, where we have moored in the past, were taken up by two large work boats and two narrowboats, including one called Rosie.  Instead we had to moor on the towpath side, where the waiting is limited to one day, and there are no rings, so we had to use mooring pins.

Paws 4 Thought moored behind us. Thankfully we both had some shade, although the sun moved round later.  There was a steep bank with a hedge, but Hugo managed to find his way up and out of sight.

Hungerford moorings

We contacted Theresa, and made an arrangement for her to collect us this evening for dinner, along with our guitars.

We went to explore the town, and found a butcher that sold eggs. We also discovered a market stall selling fresh produce (Wednesdays only) so we bought a few things there. Some oven liners and a room thermometer completed our shopping spree, and we called in at a cafe for ice creams before returning to the boat.  We will visit Tesco before we leave tomorrow.

We discovered Tony hammering in our mooring pins, as the boat had been washed out by someone going too fast.

 We found our heavy duty angle iron spikes and bashed those in instead.

Later, David and Frances came to collect us and our instruments, to take us to see their daughter Theresa, number three out of the “four little girls”.  She lives about five miles north. Her husband Diccon is an artist, making sculptures out of metal. Sadly he was away, but we may catch up on the way back. We had a lovely meal on their patio, and then we sang a few songs to them, including “that” song.  Theresa delivered us back to Hungerford.

David, Theresa, Frances

Diccon Dadey’s artwork

3 locks, 3 miles

Next:  Sunday in Pewsey, Monday night at Devizes Folk Club.

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