Thursday, 4 April 2013

Bashed Again!

Moored on the rings in Victoria Park, Newbury when we were heavily struck by another hireboat going downstream.  This time the cratch cover has been ripped <bugga>!  I suspect the steerer misjudged his own speed and the speed of the river through the town centre.  He probably decided to moor in front of us (we’re facing upstream) and couldn’t stop.  We took a fair old wack!  I’ll have to contact the hire base tomorrow and let them know.

Yesterday we moored in Thatcham on a nice wide stretch and were struck by a hire boat attempting to moor.

Yesterday’s mooring

We started today’s cruise in cold and slightly blustery conditions.  Jan walked the short distance to Monkey Marsh lock.  It’s one of two turf sided locks on the Kennet & Avon.

They must have been cheaper to build only requiring abutments and gates at each end.  However filling one obviously uses significantly more water than a ‘conventional’ lock.  Apparently it was one of the conditions of the grant from the Heritage Lottery Commission that at least two of them be retained when the K&A was re-opened.  Monkey Marsh and Garston Locks were selected.  Both are fed by river sections of the canal which significantly increases the available water supply.

Shortly after the lock there is a swing bridge followed by a reasonably long pound to Widmead Lock.

Drifting whilst Jan goes to open the bridge

In the distance we could see what appeared to be an obstruction across the canal.  As we got closer it became apparent it was some type of working boat.  Two men were on a floating platform made of interlinked plastic cubes and clearing some of the smaller branches from beside the canal.  One was at the stern controlling the raft with a small outboard motor.  What puzzled us was the number of branches over or in the canal that they were ignoring?

Widmead suffered water damage last winter.  It appears the repairs consist of timber baulks that have been bolted to the sides of the lock in the affected areas.

It’s possible to see how high the canal rose during the winter flooding as the vegetation beside the canal has drowned and died.

We made it through Bulls Lock but found the the upstream gate very heavy.  It actually took our combined effort to get one gate to open.

The swing bridge just beyond it was even more of a problem.  Jan couldn’t budge it but fortunately three ornithologists (twitchers… bird watches) arrived on the scene.  The combined efforts (weight) of all four jumping on the deck freed whatever was causing the bridge to jam.

The view at Ham Lock is better looking back with the weir to the left and the lock to the right.

Ham Lock to the right

Until you get closer, the canal gets slightly confusing on approaching Greenham Lock.

Straight ahead is wrong!  Hard left takes you to the river.  The approach to the lock is between them.  Just out of sight in the above photo.

Straight ahead under the footbridge will take you to the dry dock.  No… we didn’t go that way! Smile

We want to go that way.  But the lock has to empty first which is why Jan is propping up the gate beam!

It was a late lunch and then we received a text message advising a parcel for us had been delivered to Aldermaston Wharf.  I caught the Jet Black bus from Newbury to Aldermaston to collect it whilst Jan did the first shopping cycle at Sainsbury’s.  It seemed strange to be catching a bus from Newbury to Aldermaston after 18 months of doing the reverse!.

On my return we got out the folding sack trolley and folding crates before heading back to Sainsbury’s for the second restocking cycle.  I used the sack trolley and crates to convey 48 one litre containers of long-life milk back to Waiouru whilst Jan continued shopping.  We then used her shopping trolley and our two small backpacks to carry the remaining food back to the boat. 

The plan for tomorrow is to complete the food shopping and probably move off this dangerous  (accident prone) mooring.  We’ll probably move above Newbury Lock.

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