Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Tomorrow's challenge looms

The steep climb of the Caen Hill Flight looms ahead of us
Well, this is it; the giddy 16 lock climb that is the Caen Hill Flight. It is an astounding feat of engineering and, like so many pieces of engineering excellence, a thing of elegant and beautiful symmetry.
First thing tomorrow we will start them and once started, there is nowhere to stop until you reach the top some three hours later.And then, since that is in the middle of nowhere, there follows the six lock dessert course that brings you to Devizes and a well deserved rest. This afternon we tasted the hors d'ouevre in the shape of eleven locks that brought us here from the Barge at Seend.
Tonight one of the duty lock keepers stopped by for a chat and told us a few statistics about this amazing lock flight which lay in ruins until its spectacular restoration as the crowning glory to the re-opening of the whole canal.
Apparently the 1 locks and their huge side ponds hold 16 million gallons of water and all the water which is lost down them is pumped back to the top via a pumping station further on down that can pump 33 million litres of water a day.
We heard a few tales, too, of life as a lockie: like the group of Scandinavians swimming naked in the bottom pound after finishing the flight. Or the novice lockie who managed to drive his quad bike (and himself) into the top lock – fortunately with no lasting damage to either.
Tomorrow we will be hoping to get up without adding to the lockies'

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