Monday, 21 October 2013

Reflections on the K&A

Among the high spots: visiting elegant Bath
We started off loving the Kennet & Avon; by the end we were thoroughly fed up with it. Sadly, I don't think we'll be rushing back.
What are the plus points? It certainly runs through some delightful and varied countryside - the lush, green woods and pastures of Berkshire, then the open Wiltshire downs, the more rugged terrain as you near Bath and the lovely River Avon to Bristol. Some decent towns too: affable little country places like Hungerford and Devizes, historic Bath and - our favourite - the live-wire Bristol.
The Caen Hill flight is something to be remembered, too.
So what's wrong with it? The fact that there are so few moorings is the chief one. I don't mind nudging the bank, dropping down a plank and banging in pins, but I could certainly do with a few more places where I could tie up up to some rings or Armco and feel safe in leaving the boat for a day or three without worrying that some passing speedster wouldn't rip its pins out. (And it happens, we passed six or seven boats adrift or on the brink of it.)
It's a special pain if you have a deep drafted boat like ours - there are many stretches where you simply get bored of trying to get near enough to the side even to put a plank down, only to find you can't, you're grounded and you have to wrestle back into midstream.
And among the lows: the lines of moored boats
Much of the canal seems to be in a poor-ish state too; needing dredging, stretches overgrown with reeds, with badly leaking locks, missing paddle gear and so on. (Not to mention the often awful over-geared mechanisms.)
And as I've said before, I found the lines of 'continuous moorers' from Bradford on Avon through to Bath utterly depressing.
The point about the K&A is that visiting it is a serious commitment. A tiny minority will want to risk their boats coming back to the network on the estuary crossing to Sharpness; the rest will go down and canal and then back again. That should be an enjoyable summer's worth of cruising with the chance to vary the route each way - to moor in different spots, leave the boat and visit other towns, take country walks and so on. It's very far from that at the moment

1 comment:

  1. Well you have been there, done that. But at least your blog of the trip has been entertaining and Bath and Bristol did seem like high spots plus of course the Devizes Fish and Chips.....Sop the BIG question is 'where next?'