sund 5

We felt like we had rather rushed our voyage up the Thames and up the River Kennet, but we did need to get the boat to a safe place where it could be left for an undefined period.

We actually left the boat  somewhere near the half way point of the Canal, about three lock pounds below the historic steam beam engine pumps which lifted the water to the summit level of this ancient canal for 150 years - it is the oldest working beam engine in the world..

Chris left the boat to be at home with Chris and Carolyn who was expecing and on 27th June Caz gave birth to our grandchildren, Mary and Jack,  bringing them into this wonderful world.

green boat 1

At Great Bedwyn

We were fortunate to have a couple of contacts who could keep an eye on it whilst our attention was elsewhere. This picture was emailed to me by a passing boater, very reassuring thanks Lindsay.

I went back to the boat alone and on 18 July I was joined by Chris, Caz, ChrisG, Mary, Jack and Bryn, he is 5 month old springer and he fell in 10 seconds after he first stepped on board !

After that, he was not best pleased to be caged whilst we were moving along:

The family had arrived in the heatwave, so the gazebo sun shade saw the light of day again, it was last seen at Garstang on the Lancaster Canal - that now feels a very long time ago! About 6 years probably.

Inline images 2 despite the heat, the babies took it all in their stride, so much so they came again  for the trip to Devizes.

Below they are in the special pram with mum checking one of the attractions of Wooton Rivers village:


This may look like a beekeeper, but in fact it is a boater who has got fed up with being bitten with horseflies,The Pewsey stretch is infamous for these little pests.

The Bruce tunnel, 500yds long was a breeze compared to the Foulridge tunnel on the L & L, it has smooth, straight sides and loads of headroom:
The Bruce Tunnel is so high that "legging through"   would be difficult, so there was a chain all along one side to pull the boats through whilst the horses walked over the top, most of it still remains.
The Kennet and Avon Canal was been a very pleasant and peaceful interlude in our journey, the canal is well maintained, I get the feeling that it is well loved by volunteers and so far there has been plenty of water for us and we haven't struggled too much to find temporary moorings. Finding a permanent mooring for the winter will be more of a challenge, but it is early days yet.



Wiltshire White Horses


Descending the Caen Hill Flight -

Apart from the thunderstorm that got us when we were half way down, the descent was pleasure, thanks to the help of Andy and Chris, and at the end, the lockkeeper, who was encouraging us to keep moving so that we were out of his flight by 5 pm.

We moored near a road for the night, and next day moved down to a spot near Foxhangers Hire Boats where the new family left again for home.

Web Album Link


After the big staircase of locks our progress slowed even further, and we lingered at every stop to enjoy the scenery.


Bradford on Avon is a beatutiful town at the southern end of the cotswolds, and understandably attacts many hireboaters, including many who see it as an opportiunity for a “booze cruise”

Between Bradford on Avon and Bath the canal is in a steep wooded valley which is at the southern end of the Cotwolds. The engineering required to produce a level canal through this terrain is staggering, and even more so when you remember that it was all done with muscle power more than 200 years ago          


Picture from Mike Higginbottom’s Blog

 the Avoncliff, built by Rennie to cross the River Avon. The unique thing about the Avoncliff is that the centre span sags quite noticably.

I would never have believed that stone could squeeze without crushing, there must be something unique about the Bath limestone.

 Rennie would have preferred to use brick for his aqueducts and bridges, but he used the local stone to keep his major shareholders happy - they also owned much of the land he was cutting through.


Moored for a while between the two Aqueducts, but could not settle because of the narrowness of the channel, the fact that a lot of it was lined with concrete and this created a loud banging through the hull when bother boats came past, often too quickly.


The Dundas Aqueduct is very similar to the Avoncliff, but has just one big arch, and this has managed to retain its shape and is now regarded as Rennies’ masterpiece, but we must remember that he also designed the magnificent Lune Aqueduct that the barge last crossed way back in 2005?

After the two aqueducts, the scenery remained very pretty as we approached Bath. This stretch is also extremely popular with liveaboard boaters, many of whom do not have a permanent mooring, but take advantage of the excellent communications of this area to southern cities via the Great Western Railway and the A4 trunk road which both run right through the valley, along with the old canal.

We found a superb permanent mooring in Bathampton and started the proceedure for bidding for it with the new Canal & River Trust, but whilst we were at home, got a message to say it had already been taken, and could we move along please?

Dundas Web Album

The Somersetshire Coal Canal

The SCC Society


Our next mooring was amongst the mobile liveaboard group on the outskirts of Bath.and even nearer to the railway which was now really competing for space as they enter the city together.

Brunel was the chief engineer for this railway, and he had to push the canal further into the hillside and build this tremendous stone embakment to retain the canal high above the tracks. The achievements of those Victorians was amazing, how on earth could they contemplate moving a canal, whilst keeping it open, using what we would class now as primitive equipment?

Link to Bath page

What a shame that a lot of the Victorian infrastructure became redundant when road traffic came into fashion.

However, a railway which once ran between Bath and Shepton Mallet the “Somerset and Dorset” now forms part of a very popular Sustrans cycle route.route 24 the “ Two Tunnels