Sunday, 1 September 2013

Rough round the edges

My reading glasses fell in the cut the other day and with them went my rose tinted spectacles. After three days on the Kennet & Avon my eyes have been opened to some of its shortcomings.
It's still a very beautiful, largely rural canal but it has its problems too. Some of the locks are desperately in need of attention: most leak but we've come upon several that leak more out the bottom gates then is going in the top ones necessitating a two-man (or one man and his boat) shove to get one to open. We got stuck on a sill going into one, too.
Mooring is probably the biggest issue for a deep drafted boat like ours. Unless you luck into one of the pretty infrequent visitor moorings you're limited to those bits of bankside that aren't reed-filled, which many are, and when you find one you'll be lucky to get a deep boat within a plank's width of the side. It's frustrating and probably one reason why some of the visitor moorings appear clogged with, shall we say, infrequent movers. 
We've been breasting up alongside our shallower drafted travelling companion and Seadog Brian has become pretty adept at leaping between boats and then walking the plank to do his necessaries. There can't be many boaters who need to wear a lifejacket to go to the toilet!
We spent a day in Newbury, which the canal winds pleasantly through the centre of. It's probably the best aspect of a small town which looks rather forlorn with a dowdy shopping mall (the Kennet Centre) and too many empty shops. Out of town, under the controversial by-pass was what we christened 'The By-pass Boatyard' – a "continuous cruiser" with so much stuff gathered along the towpath, a generator working away powering his angle grinder on his boat that it would be hard to conceive him moving anywhere in a hurry.
The horse drawn trip boat with its human caargo
The canal remains a delight, though, with lovely mill streams and weirs everywhere, handsome houses and, outside the pretty village of Kintbury, even a horse drawn trip boat.
Hungerford, where we are now, is a small and clearly extremely affluent little place. Put it this way, I saw two E Type Jaguars out for a sunny drive as well as the usual motoring affluence of big Audis and sporty BMWs.
We've just met up with the couple who had Harry built for them and filled in some of its early history. They loved the boat, having seen it lying sad and neglected on the K&A in the years after they sold it.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if Harryman is getting a touch too old for this boating phones and NOW spectacles in the cut! I bet he didn't entertain thoughts of more underwater explorations and salvage operations. Despite all he still sounds cheerful. Just don't loose the keys, credit cards or Brian. Cheers