Saturday, September 29, 2007

What We Did, Where We Went

Epiphany is moored at Sydney Wharf, Bath. Again!
Blog of journey from Sydney Wharf to Bristol on Wednesday 26th September
14.76 miles, 8 hours, 14 locks, 3.59 l/mph

Today is Saturday - a rest and catch up day. This was a good decision at it is raining and not very nice! So it is time to catch up on our cruise blog!

On Wednesday we set off down the Bath locks, or the Widcombe flight, to the River Avon. This the pound between Abbey View Lock and Wash House Lock (11 and 10)

Despite my trepidation Bath deep lock was not so bad. I think it helped that I was videoing the experience! The result may be a bit like “watching paint dry”, but when edited I hope it will give a flavour of the experience!

The weather was very kind – if a little blowy and once on the river it was quite pleasant! There was no flow at all, and we only met one boat going down at Weston lock, the first lock.

I was surprised that the locks were so easy; Kelston Lock has lots of boats moored before and above the weir.

Saltford and Swineford Locks follow in quite quick succession.

Easy that was until we got to Keynsham lock – horrid, horrid lock!
It was empty, had heavy lock gear and gates and took an age to fill. It is also not the prettiest lock, feels neglected and looks out over a wooded section and the huge Cadbury factory alongside the river.

Hanham Lock is the last on the British Waterways stretch and we did as instructed and rang the lock keeper at Netham Lock to say we were on our way – “that’s OK, come on down” was the cheery reply.

As the river was behaving itself Netham lock was open. John had a very cheerful chat with the Harbour Master who was on duty, paid our dues for the licence and mooring in the Floating harbour and we set off down the feeder canal. This is basically a straight boring cut which leads into the approach to Bristol and the Floating Harbour. The River Avon hives off to port and is not seen again until after Cumberland Basin entrance lock as it joins up to run to the sea.

Once under the huge Temple Meads Bridge and past where we caught the ferry when we visited the Harbour Festival, we began to recognise things!
It was so good to be on our own boat though! The approach to the Harbour is lined with buildings, some new, some restored wharf buildings and some derelict. There are boats galore, of all types, shapes and condition.

We know that Prince Street Bridge was low – it is a swing bridge, but we only just squeezed under.
We are 2.1 meters from the waterline, including the Chinese hat on the chimney and the allowance was supposed to be 2.2! And yes we did have a full water tank!

The Harbour Master had suggested that the best place to moor would be past the SS Great Britain. We wanted to avoid the nightclubs in St Augustine’s reach and anyway there were quite a few narrowboats moored there. We sailed past all the boats, the Great Britain, The Matthew and moored up in splendid isolation opposite Hotwells.

A tip for you, if you ever do the same, think about your fenders. You will need a wide fender, tyre or lash up of 2 fenders (like us) as there are concrete bits jutting out. It would be Ok if the boat was 50ft or below I think. There is also a handy pub – The Cottage.

We were meeting John’s brother who very kindly was providing us with a meal at his house in Bristol. He picked us up and we had a great time with him and his family. Returning to the boat we spent a very quiet night.

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