Monday 23rd September
We arrived at the marina as the sun came out and spent a pleasant afternoon getting some jobs done. The carpet got a good clean with the machine from home (not such a pleasant job), and the brasses shone.
Tuesday 24th September
Here we are at our mooring on a very misty morning;
Our plans for an early start didn’t quite materialise, and we finally got away at about 11, hoping that the two kingfishers we spotted as we left were a good omen for the trip. It was rather foggy, making for an atmospheric cruise. Here is Wickham Knight bridge looming through the mist;
What is the reason for these strange bricked-up arches at Wickham Knight?
The boat waiting above Woolhampton lock had only just arrived so we went first as the lock was empty – here Dave has taken Chuffed through the bridge past that lovely creeper on the pipe bridge.
The next challenge was the Oxlease swing bridge, which wouldn’t budge until I crossed to push from the other side. Then it wouldn’t close fully unless I went back over again. The rest of the morning was a regular passage through locks and swing bridges till we moored for lunch below Monkey Marsh lock. Between Midgham and Colthorp locks CRT had been dredging and were installing piling on the offside as we passed. We had rather a late lunch at the 48-hour moorings, where the boat with the turf roof was also moored – they have a small push-mower to keep it in trim along with a pair of scissors to keep the edges tidy! We did wonder about how they stop the roof rusting though.
As we rose up Monkey Marsh lock, 3 men came along the towpath, and behind me as I opened the offside paddle I heard the shout ‘Warden here, anyone at home?’ They were standing looking into the pillbox, so naturally I asked whether they were pillbox wardens! no – they, or at least one of them, is a Neighbourhood Warden and looks after this and the other Thatcham pillbox among other tasks. Twice a week they have to come along to check the pillboxes for drugs paraphernalia. They have tried to get the entrances barred, as they have been at Hungerford, but with no luck. I took this photo just before they arrived.
As we came into Newbury we passed the Victoria Park moorings – plenty of room, but Dave had been warned that kids congregate in the park and make a nuisance of themselves, so we went on through Newbury lock with its pretty balustraded bridge and moored just above.
We went for a stroll round the town to find out where the shops were – delighted to find them so close! as far as the clock tower.
We also spotted this ‘Henry VIII slept here’ plaque halfway along the High Street. It was a shame that the shop, along with several others, is empty and to let.
10 locks, 4 swing bridges (1 electric), 7 and a half miles.