Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Newbury To Kintbury

5.5 miles, 7 locks, 2 swing bridges, 3.36 hrs, 3.49lm/hr

Today was decision day. Do we turn round or not? We looked at the canal below Newbury lock yesterday.

This is where the River Kennet joins the canal again, in a narrow channel between buildings and under the low bridge that carries the pedestrianised high street.

The river was running very fast and we thought we would check it again today. John wandered down to below the lock and decided that whilst we could probably get through going with the current he was not prepared to risk trying to come up stream on our return until the flow was much less. Knowing the volume of water around this could take more time than we had.

Fortunately there is a winding hole above Newbury lock once you are through the swing bridge.

Only problem was that there was a wide beam barge moored blocking some of the winding hole and no one aboard when he knocked. It was not only moored with ropes but chained as well.

He considered the options and thought he had it sussed! His plan was to tie the bows in the winding hole and let the current take the stern around, hoping that there was enough room. If not we were stuck and we would ring BW to get them to move the barge if there was still no one on board.

He chatted to another boat that had arrived and was moored nearer the bridge and they said they were waiting to see if another boat was going through to watch! They had only just bought the boat a couple of days ago from Great Bedwyn. They offered to help if we needed it.

So we had an early lunch and then I walked to open the swing bridge – 2 barriers closed by windlass and an electric control for the bridge.

With careful use of the throttle against the current John brought the boat alongside the winding hole and we secured her to the posts there.

The guy from the barge emerged and offered to move back – we accepted and waited for him to do so. He said his engine was knackered from the trip against the stream through Newbury yesterday!? However it was not exactly a good place to moor we felt. Then loosing the stern and keeping the bow rope tight she turned with the current and we were able to secure her again facing the opposite way to wait for the swing bridge again.

So we were now on our return journey, first stop Kintbury. All went smoothly as we locked through, there was definitely a little less water around but the canal was still full and currents were still there. John made an impressive entrance to Copse lock (80) at full throttle through one gate to avoid being swept away by the weir at the tail of the lock!

Arriving at Kintbury there were more spaces and we were able to moor up so we can get a satellite signal. Sad as it is, Tuesday night is my one evening when I watch Holby City and Hotel Babylon – the first as sometimes the story lines are pretty good and the second because it makes me laugh.

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