Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Two Posts

You get two posts today as a consolation for the lack of a post yesterday. Smile

On Monday evening I went for a towpath walk up the canal before returning and wandering around the village of Great Bedwyn.  There was a long line of moored boats above Bedwyn Church Lock.  Two thirds the way along the line of boat I came upon a boat crew mooring for the evening.  They were facing the opposite way to us and had obviously just come down the locks we would be doing tomorrow.  He was driving in the mooring pins whilst she was on the mobile phone.  I recognised the boat from our fit-out time at Aldermaston. It’s a share boat!

On reaching the next lock I found the lower gates open and the top gates leaking.  Not good as the pound will drain overnight.  I closed the gates and walked on to find the lower gates on the next lock also open.  Closed them as well.  When I reached Crofton Lock not only were the lower gates open but the paddles were also raised.  Not having a windlass with me I had to leave the paddles up and made a mental note that the pound would probably be very low in the morning.

gates and paddles

Gate paddles up

In the centre of Great Bedwyn there was a tourist notice (one of those brown signs) with the words Historic Pump House.  We will probably visit the Crofton Pump House on the way back so I decided to wander around the village.  The post office was rather interesting.

po mason

It’s the first time I’ve come upon a stonemason who holds the local post office franchise.  There were a number of interesting stones outside.


The walk back to Waiouru took me via Great Bedwyn church

great bedwyn church

and from there over the canal via one of those numerous old brick arch bridges.  Two interesting things about the bridge.  Do any of our readers know the purpose of the cast iron post in the following photo.  There was one on either side of the bridge approach.  My assumption is it’s an old fence strainer post.

iron strainer post

Many of the bridges we have seen on this stretch of the canal have the concrete vertical cylinders you can see in the above photo.  I have assumed they are WW2 concrete anti-tank obstacles?

After stopping to top up the water tank, we left Great Bedwyn around 9am yesterday morning slowly cruising past the moored boats.  As we reached that shared ownership boat the lady stuck her head out the window and commented “Going a bit fast!”  We had a little giggle at that comment (after all they had left the gates open on their way down the previous evening).  The next two pounds were well down and you could feel Waiouru dragging along the bottom.  Some boats had gone before us and had obviously contacted CRT as a worker was there attempting to managed the water levels whilst also assisting boats to the Crofton flight.

Our timing was perfect as two volunteer lock keepers had just commenced work at the bottom of the Crofton Flight of six locks.  To the left was the reservoir and on the hill to the right was Crofton Pump House.  200 years ago the pump house first started pumping water from the reservoir to the top of the flight using a steam driven beam engine.  The water is now moved using electric pumps but on special days the original beam engine pumps are used.

crofton pumphouse

We’ll stop and have a good look around the pump house on the way back.

Our thanks to Doug & Nick, the volunteer lock keepers who assisted us up the flight.  Doug lives in Southampton and volunteers one day each week.  He told Jan he loves it!


Shortly after leaving the top lock we reached the Bruce Tunnel.  It’s wide, but single way traffic, and almost 460 metres long.

bruce tunnelThe tunnel is named after Lord Thomas Brudenell Bruce who was the local land owner and who refused the canal company permission to make a deep cutting across his land, insisting they build a tunnel.

We are now on the long summit pound with the next locks at Devizes.   There were no vacant moorings at Wotton Rivers so we pressed on to the next moorings at Pewsey.  It was a similar situation there and we couldn’t help wondering how long some boats had been on the short term moorings (more on that later).  By now we had been cruising for seven hours and were more than ready to moor.  The Kennet & Avon is notorious for its shallow sides and we struggled to get against the bank.  After several attempts we managed to get ashore just beyond Stowell Park Footbridge by leaping from the boat through the stinging nettles to reach the bank.  There was quite a water gap between us and the bank.

no signal It wasn’t until we had settled that we realised there was ABSOLUTELY NO MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE irrespective of the network provider.  This is the first time our external outback Australia phone antenna has failed us!  So no blog post yesterday.

Late in the evening Jan could hear the sound of distant thunder.  It was too frequent for thunder and from the dark corner of my memory came the thought “That’s the sound of incoming artillery fire!” I guess we must be relatively close to Salisbury Plains?


Peter and Margaret said...

Another Bruce! However this one is not directly in my family tree - but his mother is! She was Lady Elizabeth Bruce b Jan 1689 d Dec 1745 the daughter of Thomas Bruce, 3rd Earl of Elgin, (in my tree - she will be my cousin's several generations great grandmother). She married George Brudenell Bruce 3rd Earl of Cardigan. Their youngest child was your Thomas Brudenell Bruce, 1st Earl of Aylesbury, b 30/04/1729 d 19/04/1814. These Bruce's don't 'alf get around. I perhaps would have been better continuing in his dislike of the canals.

Tom and Jan said...

Peter I'm starting to think you are a bit of a mongrel as you have a little bit of everyone in your ancestory 😆