Friday, 11 July 2008
Compared to Wednesday, yesterday dawned with a considerable improvement. We set off about 7.30 to climb the last 3 locks into Devizes itself. (Editors Note: We did not even make it to the pub for the pudding I could not manage the previous evening, it was just too wet to go out)
We watered etc and Geoff took the trolley ( not my fancy shopping one!) to collect a new bag of dog food for Ellie (Very important)
We then set off for Pewsey as our intended destination. Last time we were there we had seen that the rather nice cafe did breakfasts and we had these thoughts...........
Not far into our journey we picked up a boat who was travelling at snails pace. I should add here that we do not race and we always go very slowly past moored boats, but there is slow and another slow. After a while a small day boat also appeared in front of this boat and if it were possible they were going even more slowly. This a quite a narrow stretch of the canal but there are places where it is possible to pass. After some considerable time the day boat pulled over and allowed the two boats to pass. Unbelievably this did not make much difference and we still had to chug along at about half a knot. Eventually the guy in front signalled that we could pass which we did with alacrity, and a few hundred yards on he stopped at the fuel place!!!! Just to put this moan in perspective all this took place over a period of about 2 hours.
However the weather was holding so we should be thankful. We then made the decision that since the weather was being so kind we should make hay while the sun shone, literally! We would press on to Crofton, abandoning all thoughts of unhealthy breakfasts at Pewsey.
A wise decision as it turned out as mooring at Pewsey would have been difficult. We did have a kind offer from someone to breast alongside but all the 48hr moorings were filled (and they weren't all travelling boats!)
En route near bridge 116 (pipe bridge) there was a tree down leaving a very narrow passage to get through. Not only narrow but shallow and we went aground solidly. Lot of pushing by Geoff on the pole eventually had us free and we duly reported it to BW.
We reached the summit about mid afternoon...all downhill to London now........
At the first downhill lock there were a pair of boats waiting who were roped together and driven by a single-hander. We set off to help and the fun and games started. When he had dropped in the lock he was stuck! One of his boats is slightly wider than the norm and also one of the gates was very reluctant to open fully. We thought we were going to have to refill the lock but after some pushing and shoving he eventually managed to get the thinner boat out and attached a tow to the other. He was very grateful for our help as he had visions of being stuck there all night. He kindly said he would let us through at the next lock, which he did and we went down with his big boat.
Tight fit (note his greenhouse!)
We eventually reached the lock at Crofton pumping station to find a wide beam just coming off the watering point and trying to enter the lock. However he was stuck and as he was using a huge amount of throttle and churning the water up I had great difficulty coming alongside the opposite bank onto the lock waiting place. That achieved we waited for him to go down, then an age for the lock to refill as only one paddle was working.
An eventful and long day, but pleasant for all that. The countryside through which we travelled is lovely, we really are not in a rush and there was plenty of space on the mooring at Crofton when we reached here. I had managed considerable time sitting in the cratch with my paper and Ellie. Geoff prefers to be on the tiller on the longer stretches without locks. There won't be so many of those for the rest of the Kennett & Avon, it is an average of 1 lock per KM from here!