|A familiar mooring style for us on the shallow sided canal|
This is a very different canal from the one we were travelling west of Caen Hill. Now we have been running through a gentle, tree lined valley cheek by jowl with the railway line and a series of rivers – as well as frequent WWII pillboxes since the canal was a 'last ditch' line of defence against German invasion forces that might be moving northwards from the coast.
|WWII pillboxes still stand on the north bank of the canal|
Thus it was that on Wednesday – the hottest day of not just this year but of many years – I found myself walking the best part of five miles to work us through the 12 locks between Crofton and Hungerford.
Not surprisingly we had a later start the next day! Anyway, Hungerford is a pleasant little spot to explore. It's quite obviously affluent in an under-stated 'old money' way, with antique shops, posh estate agents and classy gift shops lining the single shopping street. Yet it's solid, comfortable, easy on the eye and reassuringly one of those evergreen English country towns that defy change.
Yesterday, then, was just a short day on the boat, a couple of miles down to Wire Lock where we saw someone fly fishing on the adjacent River Kennet. We also found ourself moored rather closer than I would have liked to a wild bees nest and watched them make their way in and out during the evening. My lack of enthusiasm for creatures that sting was not helped by Harrywoman's comment that bees like to swarm at this time of year. Fortunately they appeared to be happy with their present home and didn't fancy taking over ours!
|Here at Copse Lock the river joins the canal|
Pretty much all the way from Pewsey it has been clear that the K&A is suffering serious problems with bank erosion. It is natural sided with soft, soil banks and with hardly any steel piling. As a result mile after mile has been eaten away by prop wash on each side. The erosion has made the canal wider and shallower – depositing increasing amounts of silt into the water. A lot has been repaired with environmentally friendly natural materials and planting but there's much more still to do.
|Repairs recently done to the eroded bankside|
|The tell-tale sign of a bank eaten away by engine running|
I can understand the problem but the trouble is that, frankly, the K&A here is absurdly short of decent moorings. Away from the short term, 24 or 48 hour visitor moorings (and there are precious few of these around here) the edges are generally shallow and usually a jungle which few can visit. If C&RT want boaters to avoid the fragile edges then they need to do more dredging and more robust edging to create more mooring opportunities.
|Moored here at pretty West Mills on the edge of Newbury|