Friday, 1 November 2013

Off we go again; autumn trip from Caen Hill marina

We have had no internet signal since we left, so here’s several days’ worth of blog posted on Friday 1st November…

Tuesday 29th October 2013 – Caen Hill marina to Seend

A delayed start to this trip.  We had been so alarmed by the dire storm warnings for Monday that we thought we had better stay home in case any of our trees came down.  In the event there was very little damage in our area, though the roads were covered in leaves and bits of branch.  We drove up to Caen Hill in bright sunshine and apart from the brisk wind blowing across the marina it was a beautiful day.

We discovered the heavy rain had caused water to pool on the pram cover and break two of the guys which was a shame as the water had been dumped on the mat outside the door.  But no matter – after a quick lunch we left the marina (not an easy job in the wind) and set off for Seend, stopping briefly at Sells Green to top up the water.  Though we had only gone a short distance, we had already picked up a large twiggy moustache on the bow.  When we reached the locks there were boats coming up and also a CRT Hydrographic Survey boat coming up behind us with 4 crew so the locks were easy peasy. We moored at the Barge and set about re-hanging all the curtains which we had taken home to wash.  Here is the survey boat passing us to go down the fourth lock; they carry on till it’s too dark then finish for the day.  As you can see dusk is creeping on and it’s only 4.30. 

hydrographic survey at seend

The woman in charge, CRT’s only surveyor apparently, had come down from Leeds.  They go around the system, and are currently surveying the K and A to find out where it needs dredging – though she couldn’t say when that would be!  We lit the fire and decided to stay in as the rain started again.

2 miles, 3 locks, 2 swing bridges and lovely sunshine.

Wednesday 30th October – Seend to Bradford-on-Avon

It was very cold first thing, but the sun was shining as we had breakfast.  The CRT survey team passed us before we left on their way to their boat below the lock, and that was the last we saw of them.  By the time we left soon after 9 we had already had to take the thermals off!  We had an excellent morning with brilliant sunshine, and company for the first two locks to boot. 

By the time we moored at Hilperton for lunch the cloud was over and the wind getting up.  Dave popped up to the shop for the paper and came back with a sack of recycled wood briquettes which we have started to use instead of coal.  There is sometimes a bit of sawdust on the floor but they are generally much cleaner to use and to burn than coal, and leave very little ash.  They provide plenty of heat too, but need topping up more often than coal.  The other advantage is that they are relatively cheap (4.99 for a sack) and obviously much lighter to carry!

There are some interesting craft amongst the liveaboards; very tall

tall boat near bradford

and with some interesting artwork!

interesting art work

There are a lot of hire boats out this week and many have Halloween decoration of various kinds.


We moored mid-afternoon above Bradford lock, midway between the road bridges, where it is nice and quiet, and straight away went down to the town.  We discovered the cake shop shortly before it closed and got some lovely half-price cakes, then strolled round the town admiring the buildings and dodging the traffic.  We walked into a little park to take a photo of the Avon bridge

bradford bridge

and crossed the river via the footbridge which was renamed to honour Bradford’s own Olympic gold medallist Ed McKeever;

plaque on footbridge over avon

soon afterwards we found his gold post-box and took the obligatory photo of that too.  I love how towns are so proud of their athletes.

ed mckeever gold post box

We walked back to the canal via the road bridge over the Avon, where my picture of the old lock-up on the bridge is too rubbish to publish, but here is a much better photo of the Bradford Gudgeon! (That’s the fish on the weather-vane above the lock-up, for those who don’t know Bradford-on-Avon).

the bradford gudgeon

We made a diversion past the station to rejoin the canal by the Tithe Barn – no photos as it was getting quite dark by this time.  As we approached the boat the rain started and continued on and off all evening.  We didn’t mind, we were cosy and warm inside!

7 miles, 4 locks, 4 swing bridges.

Thursday 31st October- - Bradford to Dundas and Avoncliff

We popped down to the town to get some milk and check out the market – some good food stalls but we didn’t really need anything this time.  We thought we’d get going straight away when we got back; we pulled in to wait as two hire boats came up the lock; approaching bradford lock

and with two more waiting below had no work to do for a change!  This is an unusual view for me – leaving a lock on the boat!

leaving bradford lock

There was a steady procession of hire boats this morning on their way back to Hilperton, Foxhanger and Bradford – it’s clearly been a good week for the hire companies.

The planned tree felling between bridges 174 and 175 at Limpley Stoke has begun.

felling at limpley stoke

We continued to Dundas, where we took on water and emptied a cassette, then turned and moored for lunch on one of the 24-hour spots at the end of the aqueduct.  Before we left we strolled up the Somersetshire Coal Canal to realise we could have had lunch at the cafe, then went down the steps for a look at the aqueduct from the river.

dave at dundas aqueduct

and from the other side, where Dave was looking at the masons’ marks.

dave admiring masons marks

The marks are fascinating – as Dave pointed out, they can mostly all be quickly chipped out with ordinary stone chisels.  Some nice lichen too where it hasn’t been cleaned off.

masons marks 1    masons marks 2

masons marks 3    masons marks 4

On the way back to Avoncliff, we saw some of the sculptures that have been made out of bike bits and other rubbish pulled out of the canal;

  sculpture 2

We moored just past the Cross Guns and walked down to look at the Avoncliff aqueduct while it was still light enough. 

avoncliff aqueduct

The river is flowing very fast, and it’s not surprising that the navigation below Bath locks has been closed for several days.

We were astonished to see two canoes turning above the weir – not only is the river high, but the light was beginning to go.  We didn’t catch them on camera though.

weir at avoncliff

We had a pleasant meal in the Cross Guns, with beer from the Box Steam Brewery 4 miles away.

7 miles, 1 lock.

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