Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wild Flora and Fauna

A peaceful night and surprise, surprise, we cast off before 11am! A beautiful sunny day and there was a boat coming down lock 71, an Alvechurch hire boat, so it was set for us by their large crew!

The next three locks were the Froxfield flight with varied lock gear. At each lock we met a boat or two boats coming down. Guess who was doing the locks. Not me, so John had it easy. J

There are a quite a few Yellow Lily beds in the shallows. The flowers are smaller than White Lilies and open in full sunlight.

I hoped to get a better photo, but sods law, we didn’t see any more! We have also seen bushes of Dog Roses on the banks; they are so pretty.

There are lots of fluffy willow seeds floating around, making me sneeze and getting inside Epiphany! Spring and early summer is one of my favourite times.

Wildlife spotted along the way has included mallards, coots and moorhens (of course!), swans, Canada geese and three heron – which may have been the same one as we saw it on the way down and twice on the way up! They are very territorial and patrol the same stretch. There are still a few chicks around, mainly moorhens and mallards.

We moored for lunch above Froxfield middle lock. The Bruce Trust boat “Diana” was winding below the top lock (Oakhill Down lock) and was able to go through again as another boat came down. We passed mainly private boats in the flight.

After lunch we headed for Great Bedwyn. We hoped to moor before the Bedwyn Wharf Bridge that leads to the station. From there it is a few minutes, crossing the railway line, into Great Bedwyn and the shops. Some of the locks on this stretch have to be left empty so going up is an advantage!

We moored up on the 48-hour mooring just before the bridge as have a number of boats. We are opposite the end of the platform in the station, but again we don’t mind trains. They are a fact of life on much of this end of the Kennet and Avon canal from Pewsey. The railway deviates into the towns and then returns. On the outskirts of Reading it leaves at Southcote. This part of Reading we both know well as John spent a while living there. The canal returns in Reading near where I started my working life – well before the regeneration in the centre at the Oracle.

So it is very pleasant here, the sun is still shining; we have the cratch and starboard swan doors open. I can heart the birds singing and the reflection of the water playing on the port side and ceiling. Heaven! Tomorrow morning we will wander into Great Bedwyn and see if our memories of it are accurate!

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