Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The rain is falling on the plain

Eleven more locks yesterday - five of them in company with a friendly couple on an ex-Challenger share boat - and two more today have brought us to a complete change of scenery.
Tumbling down the hill from Devizes in a succession of flights, 36 locks have seen the rolling downlands disappear in favour of somewhat less soul-lifting low flat plains. The stone houses are still charming and the hamlets pretty but it's just not the same.
The canal-scape is quite different, too: much busier for one thing. The stretch from the bottom of the Devizes locks to Bath is home to several hire boat firms and their boats are on the move in both directions - wide beams as well as narrow boats. It's been good to meet foreign visitors enjoying our canals, too: we met a family of New Zealanders and an American couple who've been coming on canal holidays for the past five years.
Less pleasing, though, to witness the growing ranks of 'continuous moorers' in varying condition from good to dire. Are they all engaged in a continuous journey, staying not more than 14 days before moving on? Maybe – though the evidence suggests not. And if they were then there would be a helluva lot more boats on the move than there presently are.
I'm a bit of a woolly minded liberal on this subject: for some the canals are all they can manage in the way of a home, while others side-step the rules because they can. I don't have any sympathy for someone who can afford a £100k+ widebeam or barge and then can't or won't pay for a mooring. But the whole issue has been allowed to grow until it's almost out of control and won't be resolved without a lot of pain all round.
But let's not get too grumpy, we have also seen an entertaining range of craft down to the utterly bizarre - like the pedal-powered 'green lifestyle' boat we passed (stationary, not being pedalled by its crew of Wiggins-alikes). So here's a few:

Lovely wooden hull but quite a project
You're entering Indian country - nice boat, great paint job

Little aluminium (I think) lifeboat
After a long sunny summer and a couple of days when it threatened but never materialised, today the rain is finally falling on the plain and we are moored with the stove burning in the pretty canalside town of Bradford-on-Avon. We may linger a while - but not too long, honest.


  1. I shall be manning the six locks in Bath on Thursday and would be delighted to help you down in the forecast rain if required.
    Fruit of The Vine

    1. Thanks Keith but we will be hanging around here in BOA until the weekend as Vicky is away. Would still welcome any local knowledge on mooring in Bath and Bristol though.
      The estuary trip is in doubt too: the winter stoppages look like they would make things rather a rush for us at the other end. Instead we may amble back along the K&A where most stoppages can be avoided with suitable timing.

    2. CaRT are a man down of the single Bradford on Avon lock on Saturday so I will be filling in for that day. If you are still in the town then pop along to the lock and I'll give you some info on the Bath and Bristol moorings.

  2. Onwards to Bath....remember that boat shoot we did there one cold but sunny day. That was a nice tug, hand crafted fit out and if I recall correctly named Rocket. Those bridges were great for some location shots...so have the camera ready!

    1. I remember it well - Rocket is still my favourite boat and we kept it in mind when re-fitting Harry. Just wish I could have afforded all the oak they used!